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

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