2018 Highpointing, and What Comes Next

MartinPyne_CountyHighPoints
My current county high point completion map.

I didn’t have a particularly productive year in terms of county highpointing in 2018. The biggest reason for this is simple distance. With a couple access-related exceptions, I’ve now climbed every county high point that can be done in a single day from my home. The other problem is time and energy. I did San Gorgonio Mountain and Mt. Eddy, this year’s two ultras, as full-weekend trips, but that does require spending pretty much the entire weekend away from home, and with the usual schedule of “hike Sunday morning and then drive back” that means going pretty much right from a long drive to bed to work.

The other issue I ran into was that having a narrow vacation window is a good way to be vulnerable to weather problems. My vacation plan this year was to spend the first half of a week or so near the Nevada–California border and claim successively higher high points, then head back home and go to the Worldcon. Unfortunately, the week in question was plagued with atmospheric instability that led to two of three hikes having to be aborted early; I didn’t even bother attempting White Mountain Peak given the low likelihood of pre-thunderstorm success and car-camping fatigue.

I’m not sure what lessons to take away from the above. I don’t really have a way to try to reschedule vacations on short notice based on the forecast. The best plan would have probably been to go somewhere else, although in this particular case the need to get advance permission from the Army for Mt. Grant would have made that difficult as well. Still, worth noting for future years.

In 2019, I am planning on hiking Thurston Peak, high point of Davis and Morgan Counties in Utah, at some point over Independence Day weekend in conjunction with Westercon. (There will be ribbons.) Apart from that, I’m not really sure what county high points are on the docket for next year, as I will be using most of my vacation time on a trip to Ireland for the Dublin Worldcon. (As I do not expect to have a car there, sadly neither Carrauntoohil or Kippure are likely.) I might look at using some or all of Labor Day Weekend to tackle Hat/Eagle or Salmon/Bear. Depending on snow levels, it might also be possible to leverage Memorial Day Weekend into a couple county high points. I’d still really like to get White Mountain Peak done, but I’m not quite sure how to acclimate sensibly over the necessarily short amount of time I’d have.

In the mean time, there are still plenty of other peaks to ascend. I have twenty-five peaks remaining on the SF Bay Nifty Ninety list, and hope to finish them off in the first half of next year. The biggest limiting factors here are Brushy Peak, which can only be legally accessed via a $40+ tour that you have to sign up for, and the peaks in Henry Coe that are best accessed via the seasonally-closed Dowdy Ranch entrance.

There are also plenty of unclimbed peaks (e.g. Konocti) relatively nearby with 2000 feet of prominence, are the most prominent point in their county, or are otherwise of interest (e.g. South Chalone Peak, the Pinnacles Wilderness high point). If nothing else, Tahoe is still fairly close and has plenty of interesting mountains that are not county high points. Hopefully 2019 will see less fire and smoke.

Here at Acrophilia, I’m hoping to keep the posts about peaks climbed in the last couple years coming at noon on Fridays until I’m caught up. No guarantees, but that’s the schedule I’m working towards.

2018 year-end statistics:

  • New county high points: 6 (54 total)
  • Home glob: 46 counties (+7), 123,603 square miles (+37,211)
  • New 2000′ prominence peaks: 5
  • New SF Bay Nifty Ninety peaks: 34
  • Highest and most prominent peak climbed: San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499′)
  • Highest point reached: the side of Boundary Peak at about 12,480′
  • New peaks (min. 300′ prominence) climbed: 22
  • P-Index: 93

Peakbagging Pictures, Part Three

I’ve been pretty bad about updating pictures and other anecdotes of my various adventures here (and elsewhere). I’m probably not going to get up-to-date by the end of the year. But I’ll see what I can do.

Below the fold, here’s some stuff from the first five months of 2016. I also went back and fixed the pictures that weren’t displaying from the first two posts. Continue reading “Peakbagging Pictures, Part Three”

Peakbagging Pictures, Part Two

I’ve been pretty bad about updating pictures and other anecdotes of my various adventures here (and elsewhere). I’m not quite sure I can get up-to-date by the end of the year, especially as hopefully I’m not done going outside for the year, Camp Fire smoke aside. But I’ll see what I can do.

Below the fold, here’s some stuff from the final five months of 2015. Continue reading “Peakbagging Pictures, Part Two”

Peakbagging Pictures, Part One

I’ve been pretty bad about updating pictures and other anecdotes of my various adventures here (and elsewhere). I’m not quite sure I can get up-to-date by the end of the year, especially as hopefully I’m not done going outside for the year, Camp Fire smoke aside. But I’ll see what I can do.

Below the fold, here’s some stuff from the first seven months of 2015. Continue reading “Peakbagging Pictures, Part One”

2017 County Highpointing, and What Comes Next

MartinPyne_CountyHighPoints
My current county high point completion map.
Absent an unexpected travel opportunity, I’m done with county high points for the year. It was a fairly productive year in terms of my original goals, but there were still plenty of lessons to learn.

My big push for this year was to get most of the Lake Tahoe-area high points, and this was very successful. The only county high point that remains for me near Tahoe is Snow Valley Peak, high point of Carson City. I also tagged a few other county high points in the northern Sierras. As a result, I was able to extend my home glob into Nevada—more on that later.

I also had a multiday trip through Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon for this year’s total solar eclipse. The part of this trip that centered around the eclipse was wildly successful, as I had a wonderful view of the eclipse from the high point of Gem County, Idaho. However, I didn’t plan the second half of the trip as well as I should have. Poor weather and a lack of adequate research led to failure on Hat Mountain, high point of Lassen County, and no attempt on Eagle Peak, high point of Modoc County. In the future, I’ll do a better job of checking the weather and planning for an entire trip, although a lack of eclipse focus should help here too—I paid almost exclusive attention to making sure I’d have a clear spot to view it.

Despite the problems with this trip, I was able to extend my home glob into Oregon by ascending Crane Mountain (and Mount Rose, a couple weeks later), and added a significant amount of glob area in Oregon by ascending Granite Peak. I now stand at 48 county high points, with 39 (across three states and 86,392 square miles) connected.

So what comes next? I’m almost out of county high points that I can hike without sleeping anywhere but my own bed, so my next targets (outside of Los Prohibidos) will likely be weekend trips, with the possibility of a longer trip or two thrown in. My current priorities, in no real order:

  • I was hoping to ascend San Gorgonio Mountain, the highest point in Southern California, this summer, but after an exhausting Sunday combining San Jacinto Peak and the drive home I decided that quidditch weekends and highpointing weekends should be separate. I should be able to do this next summer, globbing both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. (Santiago Peak would also be nice if I have time.)
  • With better planning and fewer fires, the Hat/Eagle combo in far northeastern California should be a fun weekend. It would be cool to find a route up Hat that doesn’t involve the annoying descent to Lost Lake, but I can deal with that if it’s drier and I’m not worried about thunderstorms.
  • The rest of the northern tier of California is also on my high-priority list, subject to feasibility. Mt. Eddy (ultra!) is the obvious pick. Salmon Mountain and Bear Mountain would be obvious, but last I heard the road to Bear Mountain is impassible from last winter’s storms. Hopefully that will be repaired sooner rather than later.
  • As I mentioned above, Snow Valley Peak is the last county high point I haven’t ascended near Tahoe, and it’s also one of the last doable in a (very long) day from home.
  • I want to start seriously pushing towards a Nevada completion. Nevada’s easier to complete than California, due to a lack of access issues, fewer counties overall, and no apex high points. I don’t expect to complete Nevada next year but I’d like to make some headway.
  • Similarly, I’d like to extend my home glob into Idaho and connect the three counties I already have there. Unfortunately Humboldt County doesn’t have adjacency with Idaho, so that means—in addition to Cinnabar Mountain—either BM Stevenson, a notorious tire-killer, or Ruby Dome, which is reportedly both quite fun and the hardest county high point in Nevada. Again, I don’t really expect to glob Idaho next year, but 2019 maybe?
  • And finally, some inroads into the High Sierra. White Mountain Peak (14er!) would be the obvious starting point, I think. (Although White Mountain Peak isn’t actually in the High Sierra, but the nearby White Mountains.)

In the mean time, there are plenty of Bay Area peaks to climb this winter. That is, if the worst fire season anyone can remember ever ends.

Pictures from this summer’s highpointing adventures can be found on my Facebook.