The Official State Highpoint Prominence Thread

The Official State Highpoint Prominence Thread

Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

June 5th, 2006, 1:05 am #1

So I thought this might be fun. From the inane to the obscure, let's see how many facts we can come up with regarding the prominence of our 50 State Highpoints.

I'll start with a simple question. Which State Highpoint has the least amount of prominence and why??
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Joined: July 31st, 2004, 9:36 pm

June 5th, 2006, 3:18 am #2

That's an easy one...

I won't give it away here, but the state starts with a "C" and ends with a "onnecticut"
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

June 5th, 2006, 10:21 am #3

I didn't think someone would get it that quick! Hmmmm. Of the highpoints east of the Mississippi, which ones have a prominence of at least 2000 feet ... or P2Ks in prominence jargon?
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Joined: April 20th, 2004, 7:19 pm

June 5th, 2006, 6:49 pm #4

I'm not exactly clear on what prominence is - but I am pretty sure that a point with an elevation below 2000' (and without any points below sea level around) cannot have a prominence of more than 2000'.

So these are not the answer.. (:

Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, & Wisconsin (all are below 2000')
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

June 5th, 2006, 7:27 pm #5

So I thought this might be fun. From the inane to the obscure, let's see how many facts we can come up with regarding the prominence of our 50 State Highpoints.

I'll start with a simple question. Which State Highpoint has the least amount of prominence and why??
Wikipedia has as good of a definition of prominence as I've seen:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prominence

Once you understand it, you realize that the southwest slope of Frissell where Connecticut's highpoint is located has a prominence of zero since there is a higher point immediately on the other side of the Mass. border.

And how 'bout a really tough question. Which state highpoints are not the most prominent points in their states? BTW, I don't have the answer to this one but can think of several likely candidates.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:10 pm

June 5th, 2006, 8:19 pm #6

AZ: Mount Graham is the most prominent mountain in the state. Humphreys comes in second.

NM: Sierra Blanca is most prominent - Wheeler Peak is 11th!

TX: Emory Peak (Big Bend) is most prominent, Guadalupe is 4th.

MT: Crazy Peak is first, Granite 5th.

NV: Charleston Peak outside of Las Vegas is most prominent. Boundary Peak isn't even listed! It's just a subsidiary bump on a ridge leading to higher peaks in California. I can't imagine Boundary having much more than a few hundred feet of prominence. Nevada's list of peaks with above 2,000' of prominence is 169 peaks long, the most for any state.

WA, OR, AK, HI, ID, UT, CO, CA, WY: all hps are the most prominent.

Here are two good resources:

Prominence Lists by State - by Aaron Maizlish

Greg Slayden's Peakbagger site

Andy Martin's book has lists for all states' prominence leaders, and most don't match up with the state HP. Most of the plains states' HPs lie at or near their western borders with higher land not much farther west, while a lone hill somewhere might win prominence honors. Similar for most of the east, too.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 6:42 pm

June 5th, 2006, 9:01 pm #7

I didn't think someone would get it that quick! Hmmmm. Of the highpoints east of the Mississippi, which ones have a prominence of at least 2000 feet ... or P2Ks in prominence jargon?
Here are my guesses for highpoints east of the Mississippi River with at least a 2,000-foot prominence:

Mount Washington, NH
Mount Mitchell, NC
Clingmans Dome, TN
Baxter Peak (Katahdin), ME
Mount Marcy, NY
Mount Mansfield, VT
Mount Greylock, MA
Spruce Knob, WV
Mount Rogers, VA
Brasstown Bald, GA

I think only 10 of the 27 state HPs east of the Mississippi River that have at least a 2,000-foot prominence.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

June 5th, 2006, 9:13 pm #8

That's what I came up with too, Steve. From peakbagger.com (linked by surgent), the clean prominence of the 10 states is as follows:

Mt. Washington - 6,148 feet
Mitchell - 6,089 feet
Marcy - 4,912 feet
Clingman's Dome - 4,503 feet
Katahdin - 4,288 feet
Mansfield - 3,633 feet
Spruce Knob - 2,781 feet
Mt. Rogers - 2,449 feet
Greylock - 2,464 feet
Brasstown Bald - 2,107 feet

Great post below by surgent!
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

June 6th, 2006, 6:19 am #9

AZ: Mount Graham is the most prominent mountain in the state. Humphreys comes in second.

NM: Sierra Blanca is most prominent - Wheeler Peak is 11th!

TX: Emory Peak (Big Bend) is most prominent, Guadalupe is 4th.

MT: Crazy Peak is first, Granite 5th.

NV: Charleston Peak outside of Las Vegas is most prominent. Boundary Peak isn't even listed! It's just a subsidiary bump on a ridge leading to higher peaks in California. I can't imagine Boundary having much more than a few hundred feet of prominence. Nevada's list of peaks with above 2,000' of prominence is 169 peaks long, the most for any state.

WA, OR, AK, HI, ID, UT, CO, CA, WY: all hps are the most prominent.

Here are two good resources:

Prominence Lists by State - by Aaron Maizlish

Greg Slayden's Peakbagger site

Andy Martin's book has lists for all states' prominence leaders, and most don't match up with the state HP. Most of the plains states' HPs lie at or near their western borders with higher land not much farther west, while a lone hill somewhere might win prominence honors. Similar for most of the east, too.
I read this thread while plotting my ill-fated attempt at Shasta for later this week...one of the "ultra-prominences" of the lower 48.

Your questions have all been answered i think. But i can add that Boundary's prominence is 220'.

I still hope to sometime generate and climb a list of all the states' highest peak, with "peak" defined in an objective way, either by prominence or some sort of prominence ratio. (e.g. to be a "peak" the prominence has to be at least 5% of the elevation of the summit...or e.g. to be a "peak" the prominence has to be at least 300'.) I know there are several state highpoints that aren't peaks by really ANYone's defintion, and it would be fun to have a separate list that recognizes Charleston Peak instead of Boundary, Bear Mtn. instead of SSoMFrissel, etc. But besides the time and skill necessary to make the list, i'm stuck on exactly what's the best objective definition of a "peak." Ideas?

Btw, if anyone is interested in some beta/ trip reportish info on the northern presidentials in New Hampshire, i was up there to get those 3 peaks last week. I meant to get back to Mt. Washington too, but we were too spent and never made it...so i didn't bother with a trip report on this site.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:10 pm

June 6th, 2006, 2:16 pm #10

I still hope to sometime generate and climb a list of all the states' highest peak, with "peak" defined in an objective way, either by prominence or some sort of prominence ratio. (e.g. to be a "peak" the prominence has to be at least 5% of the elevation of the summit...or e.g. to be a "peak" the prominence has to be at least 300'.) I know there are several state highpoints that aren't peaks by really ANYone's defintion, and it would be fun to have a separate list that recognizes Charleston Peak instead of Boundary, Bear Mtn. instead of SSoMFrissel, etc. But besides the time and skill necessary to make the list, i'm stuck on exactly what's the best objective definition of a "peak." Ideas?

The state HP list and lists of peaks by prominence are both objectively defined so that there should be no confusion (up to the accuracy of the maps). I think this objectivity - in which we all work from common lists - is partially what makes these challenges so enjoyable. But both definitions have their downsides (and their ugly cousins) too. State and county HPs are often flukes of where the boundaries were drawn, often leading to HPs on the sides of slopes, or overlooking a better-deserving peak, as in the case of CT. But since these boundaries are set and rarely change, there's a sense of consistency and timelessness that has a certain appeal. To me, at least.

Prominence was developed to be an objective measure of actual mountains, and for the most part, it seems to be a pretty good measure. The most prominent mountains are usually the biggest and most visible. But even then, there are some odd entries that meet the criteria but really can't be called peaks. The best example I know of is the HP of the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona. The Kaibab Plateau is an huge extensive highland that is ringed by cliffs on all sides (including the Grand Canyon itself). But on top, it's hundreds of square miles of mostly gentle hills and meadows. Even so, its HP - if you can find it - has over 3,000 feet of prominence and ranks very high on AZ's list. Since AZ (and UT) have long series of cliffs and 'staircases', sometimes the HPs of these massifs get high prominence honors despite not being a 'peak' by most people's definition (The Grand Wash Cliffs HP in AZ is another highly prominent point, not likely to be confused with a mountain). Another 'problem' with prominence is that one peak can grab all the prominence and its nearby peaks, even the impressive ones, get overlooked. Mt. Elbert in CO has over 9,000 feet of prominence - essentially including the entire Rocky Mountain body of mass - and as a result just about every other big peak in CO has proms in the 2k-3k range, which isn't bad, but not what you'd expect in a state with so many 14ers.

'Highly Prominent' points also overlook modest but interesting peaks in low-lying areas... Some peaks in Western AZ only rise to about 1,500 feet but may have about 1,200 feet of prominence, a good percentage.

Even so, the lists do offer a number of interesting peaks, many of which I might never have thought of visiting. But I think any attempt to come up with a single definition that works everywhere is always going to have some strong counterexamples. I think the 300-500 ft drop (prominence) rule used in a lot of states is still the way to go, even if some deserving (subjective) peaks are overlooked while other places get on the list that (subjectively) probably shouldn't be there.

As for Kansas, who knows. Here's my vote: "Snake Hill", Seward County


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