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On peak bagging.

I don't consider myself a peak bagger, in fact I've made fun of them, calling them "list checkers"  But I confess that I'm not immune to the disease.  Early in my hiking career, I went on a couple peak bagging trips with the ultimate peak bagger, Bob Martin.  Bob Martin was the second person to climb all the peaks in Colorado over thirteen thousand feet, and there are a lot of them.  but he didn't stop there, he climbed all the peaks over 12,000 feet, but he didn't stop there.  The number of peaks he's climbed numbers in the thousands.  He's done a lot of passes too, even writing a book about them.  He's also climbed most of the peaks in Arizona.

Bob Martin has heard the list checker criticism and his response was a good one.  He has seen many, many amazing and beautiful things that he wouldn't have seen if he weren't trying to check peaks off a list (not his exact words, but along those lines).  That's the best defense of peak bagging I've heard.

By weird coincidence, a long time friend of mine, who I've done may adventures with, became one of Bob Martin's last hiking partners, 

I often claim not to be one myself but know other who are and have a lot of respect for them - I certainly have "bagged" my own but don't tend to keep lists.

Hike your own hike as they say - doesn't matter why you go out there, how high or fast you walk, etc - just go.

I climb mountains because they are in my way :p

I go out there because I like walking and I like camping. Folks will ask me how many I've done on one list or another and I have to admit I have no idea. I keep score by how much I enjoy myself instead.

I lost interest in them by the age of 30.  Now I try to stay below tree line. 

I peak out for the view from the top and the vibe of that peak, not the achievement the effort reflects or status allegedly conveyed.  For example: both Mt Whitney and Mt Langley have great views,  but Langley is much less visited - in fact we had the peak to ourselves in the late afternoon on a trip this last August - whereas the Whitney trail is gridlocked and the peak a carnival atmosphere. 

There are far too many destinies more compelling than for me to predicate my hikes be based on summiting a peak for the sake of adding a notch to my walking staff.  Besides, I have yet to find trout on any of the peaks I visited.


ppine said:

I lost interest in them by the age of 30.  Now I try to stay below tree line. 

 You'll miss some views that way.  We're not peak baggers, per se, but we do enjoy getting high enough to take in the massive views they often offer.

While we don’t do it, there is nothing wrong with peak bagging at all.

I have at least on of Bob and Dolly’s books in my archive, one from from 1986 and another somewhere in the library room too. They did their thing, got out there in High fashion.

I have always been strongly compelled to get to the tops of things, whether it is a mountain, a local hill, the rim of a canyon, a tree, or the roof of my house. Not just for the view at the top, but for the workout, all the things to see and hear and smell along the way, maybe some moving meditation, fresh air, and, in the case of skiing, the descent! I am always up for doing new summits, and have a running list of ones I'd like to get to, but I also don't mind doing repeats of quality summits -- I'd often rather redo a good one than use the same time and effort to get to another not so good one just to say I've been there. I love that feeling of topping out, seeing what's on the other side of the mountain from the one you came up. After about 7 or 8 ascents I tend to lose count of how many times I've done some of my favorite tops here in Norway, and there are summits in NH and VT that I have done dozens of times. And I will often turn around if the weather is bad, especially if there is no promise of a view. I don't keep a list, but try to hold on to the memories. Photos help. So, yeah, I guess I'm a peak bagger, but not a lister or counter.

No need to climb peaks "for the view" if you know where to look. 

I love the feeling of standing on a peak, looking down on everything around you. Top of the world. Great views, and great sense of accomplishment. And, I am always reminded of this:

"Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."

- Dag Hammarskjöld

This thread makes me want to go bag a peak! There is a perfect peak in sight of my house about 20 miles south just over 9400’ and the views are stupendous. Many other ranges can be seen from up there as well as far into Mexico. The weather is just starting to cool off enough for a hard, prolonged climb.

I do like that saying by Dag. Here is another good old Zen saying. “When you reach the top of a mountain, keep on climbing.”

Yeah I don't care about lists but I agree with Red; I love climbing to the top of things. It's just really fun. 

Ghost dog,would that peak be mt. Wrightson?  Great trip and a wonderful view....

Not interested in peaks, but very interested in getting further into wild lands. I don't care about up but care a lot about out. Many backpackers have not had the experience of being a long way from a trailhead.  Many wilderness areas in the East are not that big.  There is the concept of going and then after some travel time coming out the other side.  In states like Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Alaska you can just keep going in.

hikermor said:

Ghost dog,would that peak be mt. Wrightson?  Great trip and a wonderful view....

 That’s the place.It has probably been 10 years since we’ve been up there but usually take the short, steep trail to Josephine saddle, pay our respects to those who perished and then on to the peak. It is amazing how you travel through the lower Sonoran zone, upper pinion/juniper zone, transitional zone with oak, Canadian zone, Hudson zone and then break out into the alpine zone for those thrilling views for 360 degrees. 

There is is indeed something compelling about it. We have so many mountain ranges, tons of canyons and huge tracts of public lands for just about any on trail or off trail adventure imaginable as you probably already know.

I always associate 'Old Baldy' with the search, 60 years ago, for the three young lads who perished in a crazy, unprecedented snow storm sixty years ago.  I and two buddies responded to the scene and spent two days reaching the summit and checking the register.  That led to decades of volunteer SAR work and influenced my career choices.  I understand there will be a sixtieth anniversary commemoration this coming November.

Didn't know y'all were in Tucson! Wrightson was my favorite peak that I did while we were there, twice, and I like it for the same reason as Ghost, a great elevational transect from oaks and turkeys to ±alpine. Also enjoyed our "winter" 3-nighter on Tanque Verde Ridge, from Sonoran Desert up into oaks, junipers, manzanitas, and pines. Wasson Peak was my most oft-visited, maybe 5 or 6 times, usually as a trail run. Nice territory, I'm going to miss it!

When I was in school there (UA class of 59), three of us would often climb Baldy on Wednesday night, having no classes on Thursday.  Did the peak a bunch of times.  My favorite peak in the Tucson area, however, is Baboquivari.  I think the native peoples are absolutely correct in regarding it as the center of the universe.

Any of the peaks round  about Tucson offer a delightful change and contrast, all reachable within minutes . 


I’ll never leave the desert with all of its “sky islands” and all the life zone levels of altitude. The entire southwest is the land of my dreams. Parts of southern Utah were the last areas mapped (1970’s) in the lower 48. They are still very wild and guarded by their rugged terrain. It is like a three dimensional chess game at times, negotiating ones way through. The challenges on various levels are sublime.

Hikermor that must have been intense searching for the lost on that mountain. Last time we were up there a Firesteel among other offerings was left at the memorial monuments, reminding that even a hike that only takes hours can turn deadly in an instant with a sudden change in weather.

September 24, 2020
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