2020 Highpointing, and What Comes Next

My current county high point completion map.

Well, this year really sucked, didn’t it?

I climbed Grayback and Salmon Mountains over Independence Day weekend but COVID-19 made any further expeditions a bad idea even if theoretically possible. I was hoping to get those last three SoCal county high points over Thanksgiving but cancelled plans to do so in light of viral spread. I did, however, spend a number of weekends in the High Sierra to practice higher-elevation peakbagging. The big challenge there remains being able to quickly acclimatize, as I found myself repeatedly out-of-breath and slowing down after efforts that should not have resulted in that much fatigue.

Next year’s plans are entirely up for grabs depending on vaccine timelines and whether we have an in-person Worldcon in 2021. If we do, then the obvious target is Fort Reno, the District of Columbia highpoint, and I might also rent a car for a day and go after some other area county (or independent city) high points—I have not yet done the research but a recent thread on the county highpointers mailing list suggests that Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park would all be reasonable objectives. If we do not, then obviously I won’t bother with an East Coast trip. Either way, I’m hoping to take some time off in the summer and sweep up some Nevada county high points, and hopefully I’ll find time to return to far northern California for Bear Mountain.

2020 year-end statistics:

  • New county high points: 2 (61 total)
  • Home glob: 52 counties (+1), 141,796 square miles (+3613)
  • New 2000′ prominence peaks: 5
  • New Sierra Peaks Section peaks: 7
  • Highest peak climbed: Mount Dana (13,057′)
  • Most prominent peak climbed: South Yolla Bolly Mountain (8094′, P4814)
  • New peaks (min. 300′ prominence) climbed: 26
  • P-Index: 119

Observation Log: The Great Conjunction

Tonight saw the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn since July 1623, so of course I had to go out and see it for myself. As both planets are bright, easily observable objects, the conjunction was plainly visible from the light-polluted heart of Sunnyvale. My only worry was a cloud bank over the Santa Cruz Mountains, but this proved to be a non-factor. I found the best nearby view of the southwestern sky to be the Fair Oaks overpass above Central Expressway. Through my binoculars, while not good enough to clearly resolve the Jovian and Saturnian moons, the two planets were clearly visible close together in the same field of view, with Jupiter, significantly brighter, to the left and a bit below Saturn.