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My rules for peak bagging

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My rules for peak bagging

Postby DArcyS » Mon May 13, 2013 10:58 pm

[edit: After reading the responses to my "rules" (or guidelines, philosophies, or suggestions or whatever you'd like to call them), I think it would be useful to note that the following is only applicable to those "peak baggers" who have a strong desire to finish a list. If this is not you, what follows below is probably not relevant to you.]

This is something I wrote up awhile ago for a club publication. It contains some of the sentiment expressed in the thread "Finishing vs. not finishing - why?" at http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=39699 so I figured I'd finally post it.

Perhaps my write up is too long so I'll give the short takehome message - if you're a peak bagger, you might find yourself leading a happier and safer existence if you set a reasonable goal of peaks to climb in a year. For the rationale, read on . . .

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.

I believe the first rule is the most important rule in terms of maintaining a healthy perspective on your hobby. If you set a goal to climb five 14ers a year or 20 13ers a year, at the end of the climbing season you will have a sense of accomplishment. Instead of looking at your list and feeling you still need to climb all these peaks, you can look back on the summer and feel satisfied having met a goal. Some peak baggers never seem happy until the list is finished. Set the goal to climb a certain number of peaks in the summer and end your climbing season with a sense of accomplishment.

Setting a goal to climb a certain number of peaks also incorporates an element of safety, especially in combination of rule 3. Whenever I hear of an accident on a peak requiring at least class 3 climbing in September or October, I can’t help but wonder if this person was driven to squeeze in another peak before winter just to increase a peak count. If you set a goal to climb seven 14ers a year and a couple of them were hard ones, like North Maroon and Wetterhorn, you won’t feel the need to extend your climbing season far into the fall. Here, the difference between a peak bagger and mountaineer is relevant. If you aspire to be a mountaineer, go climb the tough peaks with snow on them – that’s what mountaineers do. But if you’re more of a peak bagger, look back and be happy with what you’ve climbed in the summer and wait until the next summer to climb the hard ones.

Similarly, if you set yourself an annual goal, you may not feel the need to do ridge traverses to bag as many peaks as you possibly can on a trip to an area (which may also involve descending a difficult route you have not seen before, increasing the element of risk). Again, if you aspire to be a mountaineer, do the tough ridge traverses, because that’s what mountaineers do. But if you’re more of peak bagger, why put yourself in danger if you can climb two peaks on separate days?

Another benefit to setting a reasonable annual peak goal is that repeating peaks with your friends is easier to do without feeling like you’re missing an opportunity to work on your list. I’ve set a goal of climbing about 20 13ers a year, which allows enough time for me to do repeats, which is a nice thing to do for your friends, especially the harder peaks. But if you’re so consumed with doing as many peaks as possible to tackle your list, you’ll probably hate doing repeats because you’ll feel like you’re wasting your time.

Regarding rule 2, I cringe at seeing people leave the harder peaks for last. When it comes to lists, it’s not how many, it’s which ones you’ve climbed that’s important. If you’ve climbed 97 centennials and have Jagged, Dallas, and Teakettle left to climb, what have you proved? So, inherent in rule 2 is don’t start a list unless you know you can finish it. And if you can finish it, don’t leave the harder ones for last. If you leave the hard ones for last, are you going to push through the peak with threatening weather? Or are you going to try to finish the list with a hard peak in October when it’s covered in snow? If you’re climbing a harder peak and you’re not that close to finishing, psychologically it’s probably easier to turn back and leave it for another day.

As for rule 3, I like to finish my peaks with class 3 or harder climbing before September, even though the snows haven’t arrived. Part of this rule is also a result of me starting to climb peaks closer to Denver in September, most of which are walkups (I’ll drive the longer distances, such as to the San Juans, in the summer). But here’s the purpose of the rule – you won’t be trying to climb hard peaks with snow on them. Sure you can schedule a class 3 peak in September or October, but are you going to turn back if there’s snow on it, or are you going to increase your risk of injury when that risk wouldn’t exist next summer? There should be enough easy peaks around to keep yourself busy in September and October.

Finally, rule 4 is to have fun and don’t forget why you started your hobby. This also relates to rule 1 – if I were to advise a new hiker on how to climb the 14ers, I’d recommend doing five to seven peaks a year so that the experience lasts around ten years (or even longer). If you like hiking and you can get out to do more than five to seven 14ers, do repeats and hike up 13ers, 12ers and whatever else. If you don’t like hiking and you just want to get them over with as soon as possible, why even start? As for rushing through any list in a short time, I wonder what’s the rush to kill a hobby you like? Is a list an enemy to be slayed as quickly as possible, or is the list a friend that is a catalyst to a healthy pursuit? I think it’s been established that finishing all of the 14ers in a couple weeks is a big deal, but other than that, finishing the 14ers in a year or two probably says something only about your commitments. Enjoy the journey of completing a list, and figure out a way to make the experience last as long as possible.
Last edited by DArcyS on Tue May 14, 2013 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Cruiser » Tue May 14, 2013 6:49 am

Mine are a bit more concise.

1. Go up.
2. Go down.
3. Go home.
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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Tue May 14, 2013 6:53 am

inthemtns wrote:you won’t be tempted to climb harder peaks that are best done without snow on them.

This does not compute
"There's no recess and no rules in the school of life" - D. Mustaine

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby susanjoypaul » Tue May 14, 2013 7:20 am

The first rule of peak bagging is: "There are no rules in peak bagging."
The second rule of peak bagging is: "There are NO rules in peak bagging."

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Scott P » Tue May 14, 2013 7:31 am

Wow.

So, inherent in rule 2 is don’t start a list unless you know you can finish it.


Why not? Even if you don't finish a list, you will still have climbed some great peaks.

This is my list:

http://www.summitpost.org/scott-s-wish-list/335481

Will I finish it? I hope to, but don't know if I will. Does that mean I shouldn't start it in the first place? Even if I never finish it, it will be great to climb as many as I can. Same goes for any climbing list that anyone wants to choose for their goals.

Again, if you aspire to be a mountaineer, do the tough ridge traverses, because that’s what mountaineers do.


Since Messner didn't usually do ridge traverses, I guess he wasn't a mountaineer. Too bad; he should have done those instead.

As for rule 3, I like to finish my peaks with class 3 or harder climbing before September, even though the snows haven’t arrived.


What happened to being a "mountaineer"? Shouldn't true mountaineers climb year round? It sounds like you are chastising people for not being a mountaineer if they don't repeat routes, do ridge traverses, etc, and then say you will only climb class 3 mountains in summer? Doesn't make sense.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with making your own rules to follow for peak bagging. I used to have the rule that I wouldn't "count" 14ers unless I did them in winter. Then I noticed that it was taking forever and (I got about half of them done) and taking from other things I wanted to do, so one day I just said "screw it" and decided to count summer ones. The great thing about making your own rules for peakbagging is that you can change them as you go along.

So, I guess no one can fault you for making your own rules as you did above.
Last edited by Scott P on Tue May 14, 2013 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Dan_Suitor » Tue May 14, 2013 7:38 am

Hi. My name is Dan and I’m a Peak Bagger.

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Dex » Tue May 14, 2013 7:46 am

Something seems missing from those guideline ...

----

If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top. Zen saying

---

Opening bell
echoes from the canyon walls --
raindrops on the river.

The sounds of rocks bouncing off rocks;
the shadows of trees traced on trees.

I sit, still.
The canyon river chants,
moving mountains.

The sermon spun on the still point:
dropping off eternity, picking up time;
letting go of self, awakened to Mind.


- Michael P. Garofalo, Above the Fog
Last edited by Dex on Tue May 14, 2013 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Steve Climber » Tue May 14, 2013 7:47 am

No offense to the OP, as you have done nothing to warrant my anger on this topic, but I despise everything this article represents. Just hearing the term "peak bagging" makes my blood boil. Like these amazing mountains that have been here for millions of years, and will be here for millions more (and don't give a rat's a$$ that you even exist, let alone are on them) are something to capture on a list like a kill tally painted on the nose of a WWII fighter.

*hears someone say they bagged a summit, and beat or defeated a mountain* ](*,) ](*,) ](*,)

Again, if you aspire to be a mountaineer, do the tough ridge traverses, because that’s what mountaineers do.


Can we get Wooly Stick's opinion on this? As climbing the Eiger North Face, apparently, is not what it takes to be a mountaineer either.
Last edited by Steve Climber on Tue May 14, 2013 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby rijaca » Tue May 14, 2013 7:48 am

Rules?! We don't need no stinkin' rules!
"Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill"

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Jeff Valliere » Tue May 14, 2013 7:52 am

Interesting post and interesting to see the varitions in what motivates people.

A few "rules" that I live by:

Come home safe.
Have fun.
Do no harm.
Leave no trace.
Respect others.

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby Jay521 » Tue May 14, 2013 7:58 am

susanjoypaul wrote:The first rule of peak bagging is: "There are no rules in peak bagging."
The second rule of peak bagging is: "There are NO rules in peak bagging."

+1
I take the mountain climber's approach to housekeeping - don't look down

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Re: My rules for peak bagging

Postby SilverLynx » Tue May 14, 2013 8:17 am

Cruiser wrote:Mine are a bit more concise.

1. Go up.
2. Go down.
3. Go home.

Beautiful in its simplicity! =D>

I would say my rules are:

1) Don't fall.
2) Don't let anything fall on you.
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