Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Peak bagging (also hill bagging, mountain bagging, or among enthusiasts, just bagging) is a popular activity for hillwalkers and mountaineers in which they attempt to reach the summit of each peak in a region above some height, or having a particular feature.
For some peak baggers, simply being present at the highest point is sufficient to check the summit off the list. This allows for driving to car-accessible summits and stepping out out of the vehicle and declaring the summit "climbed." While this extreme case is scoffed at by most mountaineers, there are certain circles for which it is the norm. One example is the County Highpointers club, which attempts to get to the highest point in as many U.S. counties as possible. For many counties, the highest point might be a small rise along a farm road, and attempting to "climb" to the highest point has no real meaning. For this reason, the county highpointers are among the most notorious peak baggers.
Views for and against
Traditional climbers or adventurers may argue that bagging devalues the experience of climbing in favour of the achievement of reaching some arbitrary point on a map; that bagging reduces climbing to the status of stamp collecting or train spotting; that it is a little sad and obsessive.
Some baggers point out that making a list of peaks to climb and attempting to finish the list does not detract from one's ability to enjoy the climbing experience as any purist mountaineer might. For these people, peak bagging is simply a motivation to keep reaching new summits.
There is also an environmental concern, that encouraging the climbing of certain mountains that have nothing else to recommend them has caused trail damage from erosion through heavy use, and, where mountains have no trails, created ones. Proponents do not dispute that this has occurred, but note that large animals also create paths and that many peakbaggers become active in maintaining trails and aware enough to mitigate damage they may otherwise cause, more so than casual hikers. Furthermore, as any list will include less-visited summits, it may tend to reduce footfall on more popular hills which tend to suffer more from erosion.
In the British Isles
The Grahams are hills in Scotland between 2000 and 2500 feet (609.6 and 762 m), with a relative height of at least 500 feet (152.4 m). The list was first compiled by Fiona Graham.
The Hewitts are hills in England, Wales or Ireland over two thousand feet (610 m) high with a relative height of at least 30 m. The list was compiled and is maintained by Alan Dawson.
The Marilyns are hills in the British Isles that have a relative height of at least 150 m, regardless of distance, absolute height or other merit. There are currently 1552 Marilyns in Britain: 1213 in Scotland, 179 in England, 156 in Wales and 5 on the Isle of Man. (Black Mountain is in both England and Wales, which is why the country totals sum to 1553.) There are a further 453 Marilyns in Ireland. The list was compiled and is maintained by Alan Dawson.
The Wainwrights are hills in the English Lake District that have a chapter in one of Alfred Wainwright's Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. There are 214 hills in the seven guides. There are no height or distance qualifications to these hills; they are simply the ones he thought worthy of inclusion. A further 102 hills were included in the supplementary guide, The Outlying Fells of Lakeland.
In the Lake District especially, there is a tradition of finding the maximum number of tops, including all the major summits, which can be visited in a 24 hour period - see Lakeland 24 hour record. This usually requires fell running, and a support team. The pre-war record, set by Bob Graham, of 42 tops, has become a standard round, which has been repeated by over 1000 people.
In the United States
Popular bagging challenges in the US include:
- The 54 Colorado fourteeners.
- All Fourteeners, mountains over 14,000 feet (4,267 m) in height — Colorado’s 54, 14 in California and Mount Rainier in Washington.
- The highest point in each of the 50 US states.
- The Sierra Peaks Section of the Sierra Club maintains a list of peaks in the Sierra Nevada, and a series of emblems (levels) for climbing a large number of them.
- The 46 highest peaks in New York's Adirondack Mountains
- The 48 peaks over 4,000 feet in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
- All peaks in New England over 4,000 feet (1,219 m)
- The highest 100 peaks in New Hampshire
- The highest 100 peaks in New England.
- All peaks in the Catskill Mountains over 3,500 feet (1,067 m)
- The Northeast 111: The White Mountain 48, the Adirondack 46 and seven Maine peaks, five in Vermont and two Catskill summits over 4,000 feet.
- The Southern Sixers, or South Beyond 6000: all 40 peaks above 6,000 feet (1,828 m) in the southern Appalachians, which are in either North Carolina or Tennessee.
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