2019 Highpointing, and What Comes Next

MartinPyne_CountyHighPoints
My current county high point completion map.

The limiting factor continues to be distance and vacation time. I was able to ascend White Mountain Peak without taking time off primarily due to Open Gate Day reducing the requisite hiking distance and still didn’t get home until pretty late Sunday night. Eagle Peak and Hat Mountain required pretty much the entirety of Labor Day Weekend just from the sheer amount of driving necessary to reach the Modoc National Forest.

Closer to home, Laveaga Peak and Long Ridge were made possible by the efforts of Coby King to obtain legal access to these private-property peaks.

Frustratingly I was unable to get anything done over Thanksgiving break due to bad weather up and down the state. While it’s possible that my plans for Hot Springs Mountain and Blue Angels Peak would have gone successfully despite the snow, that’s an awfully long drive that can be put off until there’s better weather.

My actual biggest peakbagging achievement of the year is finishing off the Nifty Ninety list of Bay Area peaks. I am not planning on going nearly as hard in the spring as this year’s effort to finish off the list on my birthday, especially as in hindsight that led to a bit of fatigue (and a desire to not burn even more gas) in trying to get much done in the Sierras in September/October this year. But I’m sure I can find something to do closer to home before the snow melts.

The other lesson learned was to not try to crowbar a non-trivial highpoint into a weekend where I’m already busy and tired—hiking is best done before the convention starts. I’m not currently planning on trying to work any highpointing into Westercon weekend. (Note also that July 4th weekend is still pretty early in the season for the Seattle area.)

So what’s next? It’s mostly a question of trying to work out vacation plans. I’m almost certainly not going to Worldcon this year (turns out flights to New Zealand are really expensive) so I am hoping to spend a week in the Sierra sometime in August. It would also be really nice to bump off both the Salmon/Bear duo (likely a Labor Day Weekend target) and the three I have left in SoCal next year, although this may be a tad ambitious given that the latter would likely have to be crowbarred into Memorial Day Weekend and I’m not sure that’s actually enough time considering the drive.

For summer weekend trips, there’s also a number of county prominences that I’m interested in—Granite Chief, Mt. Conness, South Yolla Bolly, Hull Mountain, and Babbitt Peak come to mind.

Longer term, I’m planning on combining my 2021 trip for the Tonopah Westercon with some county high points in southern / central Nevada, as well as a few easy pings in D.C. and environs in conjunction with the 2021 Worldcon.

2019 year-end statistics:

  • New county high points: 5 (59 total)
  • Home glob: 51 counties (+5), 138,183 square miles (+14,580)
  • New 2000′ prominence peaks: 3
  • New SF Bay Nifty Ninety peaks: 25
  • Highest and most prominent peak climbed: White Mountain Peak (14,246)
  • New peaks (min. 300′ prominence) climbed: 22
  • P-Index: 103

Highpointing Season!

MartinPyne_CountyHighPoints

It’s June, and that mean it’s time for the summer highpointing season to finally kick off. My plans for this year:

Counties

I have concrete plans for the following:

  • 9 June: Laveaga Peak (3801′). Highest and most prominent point of Merced County, CA. With a group of fellow county highpointers for what will be the first legal ascent by any of us. (I’m pretty excited for this.)
  • 4 July: Thurston Peak (9706′). Highest point of Davis and Morgan Counties, UT. In conjunction with SpikeCon. There are a couple of route variations and I’m still locking down exactly how I plan to do this. (And of course, subject to change based on weather.)

I’m also hoping to swing by SoCal at some point in the fall for Santiago Peak (Orange: 5687′), Hot Springs Mountain (San Diego: 6533′), and Blue Angels Peak (Imperial: 4548′). Thanksgiving sounds like a good time for this.

I believe I am out of county high points that can be legally ascended in the course of a day from home, and there isn’t even much that can be sensibly done over a full weekend. The biggest possible exception here is White Mountain Peak (Mono: 14,246′) and the big question there would be whether trying to do it as a weekend blitz is sensible from an acclimation perspective, as well as not being super tired on the drive home.

Unfortunately there’s only one other three-day weekend during the summer season and that’s Labor Day Weekend, which I hope to spend targeting either Eagle Peak (Modoc: 9892′) and Hat Mountain (Lassen: 8745′) in far northeastern California or Salmon Mountain (Humboldt: 6956′) and Bear Mountain (Del Norte: 6411′) in northwestern California. Hard to plan this in advance without knowing weather and wildfire status.

If all goes well this should put me at 44-47 of 58 California county high points by the end of 2019.

International

I am not currently planning on ascending anything of note during my trip to Ireland for the 77th World Science Fiction Convention. I looked into trying to squeeze in Carrauntoohil (1039m), the country high point, but I don’t think I can make it work logistically without spending way too much time away from the convention. (Kippure (757m), the highest point of County Dublin, is more feasible but still requires a car.) I haven’t figured out what the highest point of the City of Dublin itself is yet.

Other

Not the highest point of anything, but I do plan on completing the Nifty Ninety list on McAbee Overlook (1730′), in Big Basin State Park, on my birthday, 15 June. If anybody wants to come along I expect to be hitting the trailhead around 9am.

This is going to be a very late Sierra season due to high snow levels but I am potentially and particularly interested in weekend ascents of Granite Chief (9006′), Mokelumne Peak (9334′), and Mt. Hoffmann (10,850′), most prominent peaks of Placer, Amador, and Mariposa Counties, respectively.

Additionally, well, I maintain this wish list for a reason.