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.

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