I wanted to weigh in on this topic when it was current but since at that time I hadn't done a couple of notable peaks I kept quiet. At this point, though, I've lead or soloed the all Colorado ranked peaks > 10000' that listsofjohn considers 5th class, so I thought I'd add my two cents to the discussion. In an attempt at objectivity, I devised (at the speed of typing) a scoring system to rank peak difficulty by several criteria, something akin to Roach's RP system though hopefully more transparent.
The individual scores are somewhat subjective; if I re-scored everything tomorrow many values would likely change. Also all scores reflect and are biased by my cragging background in which I was used to making relatively hard moves on solid rock with short approaches; thus relative to most peak-baggers I probably underrate technical difficulty while being unduly impressed by bad rock and arduous approaches.
Hardest Move (HM). Max possible points: 5. Intended to recognize "stopper" moves. The scale is based on moves found on peaks on this list i.e. solid 5.8 earns a 5.
Continuousness (C). Max possible points: 10. Recognizes the amount of 5th class climbing on a peak. Again the scale is based on peaks on this list i.e. Turret Ridge, with three pitches of solid 5th class earns max points.
Seriousness (S). Max possible points 10. Recognizes the overall risk of a peak and is comprised of three components: remoteness(4) (difficulty/likelihood of rescue), rockfall hazard(3) and difficulty of obtaining reliable protection (3)
Approach (A). Max possible points 10. Recognizes that getting there is half the fun. Among other things, a long approach makes it more difficult to cherry pick a good weather window.
Code: Select all
HM C Seriousness A Total
Jagged 2 3 7 (4/1/2) 10 22
Teakettle 1 1 3 (1/1/1) 3 8
Dallas* 4 2 4 (2/1/1) 5 15
Peak Fifteen 3 5 9 (4/2/3) 9 26
Coxcomb 1 2 3 (2/1/0) 3 9
Whitney 2 0 2 (1/0/1) 2 6
Lizard Head 5 10 4 (1/2/1) 2 21
12740 0 1 3 (2/0/1) 3 7
Sharkstooth ** 4 8 2 (1/1/0) 2 16
12500 0 0 1 (1/0/0) 3 4
Silver Plume 3 0 0 (0/0/0) 3 6
Twin Peaks 4 6 8 (3/2/3) 4 22
McReynolds 5 2 0 (0/0/0) 3 10
Turret Ridge*** 5 10 9 (2/3/3) 2 26
Chimney Rock 3 8 5 (1/2/2) 2 19
Squaretop**** 5 5 4 (2/1/1) 3 17
Tuckaway 1 0 1 (1/0/0) 4 6
Rabbit Ears 3 4 6 (1/2/3) 0 13
10100 1 1 2 (1/0/1) 1 5
Castle Mtn 1 1 3 (1/1/1) 1 6
* I was off route on Dallas. Seriousness ratings attempt to approximate halving the difference between what I did I what I've subsequently learned about the "standard" route.
** I did not do the easiest route on Sharkstooth. Ratings are for ascending the NE Ridge.
*** Turret Ridge has a lot of decent pro and few run outs. However, all the pro on the P3 traverse is suspect putting a lot of pressure on the leader and the 2nd not to fall.
**** Squaretop ratings reflect doing the higher quality and harder variant on P1.
Discussion of results:
Part of my motivation to compile these rankings was my recent ascent of Peak Fifteen and subsequent feeling that its historical rating in the 5.2 range substantially belied its overall difficulty and seriousness. In some respects it felt to me like a bigger undertaking than Turret Ridge, the near consensus choice as hardest ranked summit above timberline in Colorado. So I was pleased to see that P15 came out at the top of my rankings, tied with Turret.
The rankings essentially fall into three tiers: more than 20 points, 10-20 points and less than 10.
The top tier contains the usual suspects, Turret Ridge, Lizard Head along with P15 and Jagged. The first two scored high for sustained technical difficulty but low otherwise while the latter two earned their points for remoteness and difficulty of approach.
The middle tier is a grab bag ranging from a quality multi-pitch moderate 5th class on good rock, Sharkstooth, to a short but trying aid climb on terrible rock, Rabbit Ears. Scores in this tier are somewhat skewed by the fact that on some of the peaks I did not ascend the standard route.
The bottom tier consists mostly of climbs that would not be considered 5th class in the rock climbing world. Many of these peaks are class two with a short boulder problem at the top.
Again, I did not put a lot of time or contemplation into any individual score. If I rated everything again tomorrow many totals would likely shift a point or two one direction or the other. So anyone tempted to put any stock in these rankings should be too fussed about small differences in individual or total scores.
There are some fourth class peaks which might earn higher scores than some of the peaks on this list.
There are several ranked peaks in Colorado lower than 10000', some of which have never been climbed, which would earn high scores in this system. To be continued?