# Suggested Guidelines for determining second-highest, fourteeners, etc...

Chris
Chris
I think a fairly simple guideline to determine which peaks should be counted in lists such as the Colorado 14'ers, Eastern 600's, and similar situations:

For second-highest: the peak should be the highest that is separated from the true highpoint by a saddle 9/10 the height of the highest peak. (see prominence at http://cohp.org/prominence/index.htm ) Therefore, if peak X was 10,000 feet high, the second-highest peak would require a mandatory climb down to 9,000 feet or lower. If peak Y was 9,500 feet tall, and was connected to X by a saddle of which the lowest point was 9100 feet, then this peak would not be considered the second-highest.

For lists: taking, for example, 14000 peaks. For example a peak 14,500 feet tall would be encircled by a contour (however confusing) of 13,050 feet high. Any other peak inside this area would not be considered a fourteener.

I think this is an easy rule to remember, and would reduce a lot of confusion among those who attempt to climb peak groups such as these.

Jeffrey Cook
Jeffrey Cook
I can see the logic behind using 9/10 ratio, but applying it to only the higher peak means that any little bump on a descending ridge might be considered a legitimate peak if it happens to be separated by a dip that is 9/10 the height of the main peak. I would think such a requirement should be applied to both peaks.

I typically just use the 300 foot rule--if two peaks are separated by a saddle at least 300 feet lower than either peak, the lower one is a separate peak. Maybe it doesn't have to be 300 feet, but a fixed number does make the math a lot easier.

As far as 300 feet being much bigger on a small mountain than on a large one, keep in mind that because of altitude effects, a 300 foot climb on a high mountain is a whole lot harder than a 300 foot climb on a low one!

A further argument might be that the difficulty of the terrain between the peaks should be considered, but that just gets into a whole other can of worms. I definitely agree that the simplest definition is probably the best!

Andy
Andy
I think a fairly simple guideline to determine which peaks should be counted in lists such as the Colorado 14'ers, Eastern 600's, and similar situations:

For second-highest: the peak should be the highest that is separated from the true highpoint by a saddle 9/10 the height of the highest peak. (see prominence at http://cohp.org/prominence/index.htm ) Therefore, if peak X was 10,000 feet high, the second-highest peak would require a mandatory climb down to 9,000 feet or lower. If peak Y was 9,500 feet tall, and was connected to X by a saddle of which the lowest point was 9100 feet, then this peak would not be considered the second-highest.

For lists: taking, for example, 14000 peaks. For example a peak 14,500 feet tall would be encircled by a contour (however confusing) of 13,050 feet high. Any other peak inside this area would not be considered a fourteener.

I think this is an easy rule to remember, and would reduce a lot of confusion among those who attempt to climb peak groups such as these.
>>For second-highest: the peak should be
>>the highest that is separated from the true
>>highpoint by a saddle 9/10 the height of
>>the highest peak.

But "9/10" is an arbitrary number,
just like the "300 feet" drop rule hidden in the definition
of what makes a fourteener.

Straight prominence has no numbers like this at all
in its definition:

Priminence is elevation difference between a peak
and the lowest contour that encircles it and no
higher summit.

It works equally well in an area of high peaks like
CO, or lower peaks as found in New England.

The proof is in the lists, of course. We would need to
compare height, prominence, and 9/10 height lists for
several areas.

To give an idea of the peaks selected by prominence,
the worlds top 10 by prominence follows. It
includes the Seven Summits and 3 additional peaks:

by David Metzler, with help from
Eberhard Jurgalski, 2001.

Peak Location Elev Prominence, meters
Everest Nepal/Tibet 8848 8848
Aconcagua Argentina 6960 6960
Kilimanjaro Tanzania 5895 5895
Cristobal Colon Colombia 5775 5500
Logan Yukon 5959 5248
Citlaltepetl Mexico 5611 4898
Vinson Massif Antarctica 4897 4897
Puncak Jaya Indonesia 4884 4884
Elbrus Russia 5642 4767

Anonymous
Anonymous
I can see the logic behind using 9/10 ratio, but applying it to only the higher peak means that any little bump on a descending ridge might be considered a legitimate peak if it happens to be separated by a dip that is 9/10 the height of the main peak. I would think such a requirement should be applied to both peaks.

I typically just use the 300 foot rule--if two peaks are separated by a saddle at least 300 feet lower than either peak, the lower one is a separate peak. Maybe it doesn't have to be 300 feet, but a fixed number does make the math a lot easier.

As far as 300 feet being much bigger on a small mountain than on a large one, keep in mind that because of altitude effects, a 300 foot climb on a high mountain is a whole lot harder than a 300 foot climb on a low one!

A further argument might be that the difficulty of the terrain between the peaks should be considered, but that just gets into a whole other can of worms. I definitely agree that the simplest definition is probably the best!
Accuracy/Precision -
So a 299' drop would not qualify?

Round Number -
Is 300' linked to anything, or is it just easy to remember? Maybe there's a statistical cutoff in number of peaks.

Feet -
Why feet, why meters? Your terrain comment is interesting(ie, forget just using feet - - establish drop by using terrain-defining parameters such as boulders-per-yard, or grade of slope.)

Good comments Jeff. I'll try to get permission from the (extinct?) publisher of Four Thousand Meters to let me post their discussion of drops and their discussion of the use of meters. I'll also try to post the CMC's original article defining 300' as the standard drop.

Roger Williams
Roger Williams
>>For second-highest: the peak should be
>>the highest that is separated from the true
>>highpoint by a saddle 9/10 the height of
>>the highest peak.

But "9/10" is an arbitrary number,
just like the "300 feet" drop rule hidden in the definition
of what makes a fourteener.

Straight prominence has no numbers like this at all
in its definition:

Priminence is elevation difference between a peak
and the lowest contour that encircles it and no
higher summit.

It works equally well in an area of high peaks like
CO, or lower peaks as found in New England.

The proof is in the lists, of course. We would need to
compare height, prominence, and 9/10 height lists for
several areas.

To give an idea of the peaks selected by prominence,
the worlds top 10 by prominence follows. It
includes the Seven Summits and 3 additional peaks:

by David Metzler, with help from
Eberhard Jurgalski, 2001.

Peak Location Elev Prominence, meters
Everest Nepal/Tibet 8848 8848
Aconcagua Argentina 6960 6960
Kilimanjaro Tanzania 5895 5895
Cristobal Colon Colombia 5775 5500
Logan Yukon 5959 5248
Citlaltepetl Mexico 5611 4898
Vinson Massif Antarctica 4897 4897
Puncak Jaya Indonesia 4884 4884
Elbrus Russia 5642 4767
I've only climbed one of these, Kibo/Kilimanjaro in Mar 73. I do have a couple of questions:
I thought it was Puntjak Jaya or Carstenz Top or Pyramid, not Puncak--a minor point. Used to be called Gunong Sukarno, but I guess he's in the doghouse by now.
I thought Vinson Massif in the Antarctic was 5140 m. I think the height of Bukit Kinabalu, highest in Sabah, Borneo & by some definitions in SE Asia, has also been revised; it was 4101 m. (13 455') when I climbed it in Nov. 72. I think it's lost some height since then.
Roger Williams, Boulder CO.

Jeffrey Cook
Jeffrey Cook
>>For second-highest: the peak should be
>>the highest that is separated from the true
>>highpoint by a saddle 9/10 the height of
>>the highest peak.

But "9/10" is an arbitrary number,
just like the "300 feet" drop rule hidden in the definition
of what makes a fourteener.

Straight prominence has no numbers like this at all
in its definition:

Priminence is elevation difference between a peak
and the lowest contour that encircles it and no
higher summit.

It works equally well in an area of high peaks like
CO, or lower peaks as found in New England.

The proof is in the lists, of course. We would need to
compare height, prominence, and 9/10 height lists for
several areas.

To give an idea of the peaks selected by prominence,
the worlds top 10 by prominence follows. It
includes the Seven Summits and 3 additional peaks:

by David Metzler, with help from
Eberhard Jurgalski, 2001.

Peak Location Elev Prominence, meters
Everest Nepal/Tibet 8848 8848
Aconcagua Argentina 6960 6960