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

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

Chris
Chris

December 4th, 2001, 8:42 pm #1

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.
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Jeffrey Cook
Jeffrey Cook

December 5th, 2001, 7:37 pm #2

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!
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Andy
Andy

December 5th, 2001, 8:12 pm #3

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
Denali Alaska 6194 6168
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
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Anonymous
Anonymous

December 5th, 2001, 8:45 pm #4

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.
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Roger Williams
Roger Williams

December 6th, 2001, 5:25 pm #5

>>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
Denali Alaska 6194 6168
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.
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Jeffrey Cook
Jeffrey Cook

December 6th, 2001, 7:30 pm #6

>>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
Denali Alaska 6194 6168
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
The prominence definition works well in some ways, but here's an additional complication: How does one rank a mountain like Pikes Peak that has a road all the way to the top? Pikes is pretty darn prominent by Lower 48 standards, but does a liesurely (or perhaps white-knuckle for some) drive to the summit give one claim to a prominent peak? Or do we need to modify the definition to refer to the lowest contour which does not cross a road, for example?

Also, prominence doesn't include the summit elevation, which could significantly underrate a mountain where altitude is a factor, and which would completely reordering the rank list of hundreds of mountains. I still have to lean toward some absolute measure, even if it requires one to establish artificial and arbitrary boundaries.
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