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300 foot rule

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300 foot rule

Postby argothor » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:48 pm

Just out of curiousity, how did the 300 foot rule come about for a peak to be ranked? And why 300' and not something like 250' or 500'? If the break point was only 250', Colorado would only gain two ranked 14ers - North Massive and El Diente. But if the break point was raised to 500', we'd lose seven 14ers - Crestone Needle, Bross, Tabeguache, Challenger Point, Sunlight, Ellingwood Point and Little Bear.

I'm also assuming that rule is not universal. While it is used here in Colorado, I doubt that it applies in places like New York or such a flat area as Florida (which only has 345' of elevation gain in the whole state). Just how universal is this standard? What other standards are there?

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Re: 300 foot rule

Postby Doctor No » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:51 pm

Roach's book has a paragraph which may answer both questions - "There is nothing sacred about 300 feet. It is just a round number that seems to make sense in Colorado."
Last edited by Doctor No on Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: 300 foot rule

Postby Jon Frohlich » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:54 pm

Himalayas use 300 meters I believe. I think I remember reading somewhere that Alaska is 500 feet. Not sure about California, Europe, etc.

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Re: 300 foot rule

Postby SpringsHiker » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:59 pm

The state of Alaska specifies 500' as the prominence rule for its peaks. If Alaska were to use 300' it would pick up half a dozen or so peaks, including 14ers, 15ers and couple higher than that I think. The rule is arbitrary but some value is necessary or every bump and wiggle would be a peak. Personally I have been fine with the use of 300' of prominence or USGS-named peaks. The use of either criteria to qualify peaks in Colorado has worked to include those that are a popularly considered legitimate peaks and is how Bill determined his list of 58, with the five not meeting the 300' rule shown in grey.
"I am not a fizzy yellow beer drinking ninny!"

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Re: 300 foot rule

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:22 pm

In the northeast (Adirondacks, White Mountains etc) it's 200 feet. You'd cull some eight or 10 peaks in the Whites if you bumped it up to 300.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: 300 foot rule

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:43 pm

argothor wrote:If the break point was only 250', Colorado would only gain two ranked 14ers - North Massive and El Diente. But if the break point was raised to 500', we'd lose seven 14ers - Crestone Needle, Bross, Tabeguache, Challenger Point, Sunlight, Ellingwood Point and Little Bear.


Also Sunshine would become debatable. The saddle is between the 13480 and 13520 contours, so it has only 481' of clean prominence. Thus demonstrating changing the prominence threshold does not eliminate arguments but only generates different ones.

Torreys would be OK, btw, with some 550' of clean prominence.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: 300 foot rule

Postby PeakCowboy » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:33 pm

California also utilizes the 300 ft. rule. But like El Diente in Colorado, three peaks: Polemonium Peak, Starlight Peak and Thunderbolt Peak, even though they don't qualify as "official" 14ers, are so imposing that they are considered real 14ers by mountaineers everywhere. Thunderbolt, with a 5.8 finish, is the most difficult of all California 14ers.
Mountains are earth's undecaying monuments.
William Hawthorne


In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
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