inthemtns wrote:My Rules for Peak Bagging
The first thing you need to do is to determine whether you are a peak bagger or a mountaineer. While a peak bagger and mountaineer have many different traits, I generally view a peak bagger as one who is primarily interested in climbing a peak to complete a list, while a mountaineer is more concerned with climbing challenging routes on a peak. A peak bagger is more likely never to reclimb a difficult peak once completed, while a mountaineer is more likely to reclimb a difficult peak again to experience the challenges of climbing. Some peak baggers are also driven by an obsessive compulsive personality. They get themselves on a list and I suspect some of these people actually don’t like to climb, but they need to finish the list to satisfy this deep desire to finish it.
Most people aren’t purely a peak bagger or a mountaineer – a continuum exists between the two extremes. My rules apply to people who are primarily peak baggers that are trying to complete a list. The rules are as follows:
1) Set a goal to climb a reasonable number of peaks in a year. There are a number of factors to consider when setting the number, such as your age, job, family, the size of the list, and the number of lists you are climbing simultaneously.
2) Do not avoid climbing the hardest peaks and leave them for last. This rule makes sense for the 13ers and top 100, but for the 14ers, it needs to be modified. First gain experience on the easier 14ers, and then do the hard peaks, but just don’t leave Capital, the Bells, Pyramid, and Mt. Wilson for last.
3) Climb the peaks with class 3 or harder climbing in July and August and finish with walkups in the fall months. This has an element of safety – you won’t be tempted to climb harder peaks that are best done without snow on them.
4) Have fun – don’t forget why you started climbing in the first place.
My initial post was meant to be more humorous but I'd like to be serious for a second, because I think you have some excellent points. However, I think the term "guidelines" would be more appropriate than "rules" since rules are generally not flexible or subject to interpretation by the individual.
First of all I will shamelessly admit that I am a peak bagger. I see nothing wrong with it. I am not working toward a goal of the Seven Summits (at least not at this point in my life), I don't anticipate climbing Rainier, I am not trying to write a book, or become the best, or intentionally choose more difficult routes to gain a summit. That's not to say I don't like repeating mountains, but I'm not there to put myself into dire situations in order to prepare for taller and more exotic mountain ranges. I simply like to hike to the highest point in the area, see the sights, hear the birds, enjoy my day and make it safely back to the comfort of my home with my family and my pets (right after I stick another pin in my wall map of the 14ers, upload my photos to Facebook and update my peak checklist on this website).
Like a mountaineer, I like adventure and and finding my limits; I like stepping out of my comfort zone; but I would still call myself a peak bagger. Of course, these are only words
. A way for us to understand what makes me different than the next person when in fact it is probably a very blurred line.
Regarding Guideline #1, I agree that it is important to balance your "the rest of your life" with climbing and be realistic. Sure, we are all out there yearning for new experiences and risk but there are people outside of the mountains who need our attention too (hopefully). I also think it's important to not kick yourself for not climbing as much as someone with more skill, more free time, more money or fewer responsibilities. Do what you can and be happy with what you can achieve.
Regarding Guideline #2, you might be the first person to say what I have always thought. While it is a good idea to step up the difficulty in a logical way, that doesn't mean saving the hardest for last. At some point you have to realize no other mountain will completely prepare you for the next, and there is an uncertainty and mystery that comes with the territory of mountain climbing. While preparation is important, don't put yourself into a crunch where everything left on your list is Class 4.
Regarding Guideline #3, I don't completely agree only because I feel that September is often the safest month with regards to weather. I'm sure anyone here is well aware that storms can occur at any time between May and October, but they seem to be less likely in September. Also, the summer is often a useful time to get yourself in shape for the more challenging peaks. I would not start this summer off by doing Class 4 when I've been doing Class 2 and below all winter. I do understand what you mean by people feeling the pressure to do all they can before winter sets in, so I'm not dismissing this entirely. This one is really about being honest with yourself. Are you climbing a Class 4 at the end of the season because you feel you are ready for it? Or are you just trying to get one more check mark in before the snow comes?
Regarding Guideline #4, yes definitely. If you're not having fun anymore with this activity it is time to reassess what is important to you and why you are peak bagging in the first place. Though I always have fun when I'm in the mountains, I do tend to have to ask/remind myself "Why did you start climbing 14ers? What was the reason and what was most important to you?"
in order to avoid getting carried away with lists and check marks and beating myself up over missed opportunities.
One last thing I would like to add - if you put people and safety before glory and ego, I think you are climbing for the right reasons. Whether you are a peak bagger, mountaineer, skier, rock climber, ice climber, 13er hipster, thru hiker or any other kind of person in the hills, we are all in this together. You don't have to agree with me, but that's how I see it. I thought the original post was thought-provoking enough to deserve a longer response than my usual post, so there you go.