Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

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Eli Boardman
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Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

It seems inevitable that the wave of LiDAR-informed peakbagging will spread beyond Colorado, so why not Wyoming next? Today, I finally got around to downloading the new version of QGIS that has native laz capabilities and started poking around on some peaks in the Wind River Range. I'll start another thread at some point with a detailed tutorial for the workflow I'm following--since it's very simple and uses only free materials, I think others might be interested.

As of this evening, I've processed 31 peaks in the northern Wind River Range (full table of results at end). I found 3 new 12ers: Nebraska Point with 311 ft. of prominence, U.N. Point 12580 with 330 ft. of prominence, and Bondage Peak with 310 ft. of prominence.

Most notably, I found a new ranked Wyoming 13er! It's Miriam Peak, with 315 ft. of prominence!
The topo maps seem to have missed the 120 ft. contour on this peak, although the saddle elevation at Bonney Pass was pretty close to accurate. The highest return was 13,136 ft., and there were many other points very close to this. That's 56 ft. higher than the highest closed contour! I measured the col at 12,821 ft., previously 12,824 ft. It's awesome to add this peak to the list, since not only is it in a cool, central location (it will finally force me to climb Bonney Pass), but the woman it's named for, Miriam Underhill, was a pioneering female climber who made the first ascent of this peak along with her husband Robert Underhill in 1939. As of now, this upgrade makes Teresa Gergen the only known finisher of the new Wyoming 13er list (older records should still be honored, and it's individual choice whether to re-finish the list).

In terms of the 13er list, the addition of Miriam Peak seems to be the only big change. The only previously soft-ranked 13er, Pedestal Peak, has 292 ft. of prominence by my count, which is sadly not quite enough to make it ranked (though the 292 ft. is rather closer than expected based on the prevailing opinion).

There were also a few peaks which were originally ranked because of the type of interpolation used by Lists of John and could theoretically have been just shy of 300 ft., but they remain ranked: Spearhead Pinnacle went from 320 ft. of prominence to 332 ft., and U.N. Point 13180 (between Flagstone and Bastion) went from 320 ft. of prominence to 312 ft. I can also confirm that Spearhead is about 9 ft. taller than Forked Tongue, as was initially determined by Jim Rickard in 2010 with a sight level. The Sphinx, which was the least-prominent of the ranked 13ers, went from 318 ft. of prominence to 328 ft., and the unnamed peak between Flagstone and Bastion is now the least-prominent 13er.

I always suspected that the summit of Knife Point Mountain was substantially taller than the 13,001 ft. reported on the map, and indeed, the sharp summit obelisk extends to about 13,038 ft., making Knife Point move up considerably in the 13er rankings (pending final elevations for the remaining peaks).

The other elevation ambiguity has been the true summit of the Twin Peaks: on maps, the East Twin has a spot elevation of 13,185 ft. and the West Twin has a 13,160 ft. closed contour, but sight leveling and GPS measurements have revealed that the sharp summit of the West Twin is very close to the height of the East Twin. With the LiDAR data, I get elevations of 13,216 ft. for the East Twin and 13,214 ft. for the West Twin--close enough that I'm not personally comfortable declaring the East Twin to be higher. LiDAR points represent a sort of spatial average over the spot size (the laser beam spreads due to the distance of the airplane above the ground), and on a single sharp-topped boulder like the summit of the West Twin, it's unclear whether the reported elevation is really the highest point. Thus, for now, I encourage climbers to continue tagging both summits of the Twin Peaks.

More to come...
PeaksSoFar1.JPG
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Last edited by Eli Boardman on Wed Dec 29, 2021 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

Details on Miriam Peak, since this "new" 13er is by far my most interesting finding so far.

Binary view of the summit area above (pink) and below (black) 13,120 ft. elevation, showing nearly 800 sq. ft. of terrain above 13,120 ft., the elevation of the missing contour:
Miriam-13120ftArea.JPG
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Annotated binary view of the area above (pink) and below (black) 3908 m, the integer threshold closest to the key col:
Miriam-Above3908.JPG
Miriam-Above3908.JPG (59.05 KiB) Viewed 4296 times
Closeup of the same 3908 m binary map (a little higher than the true key col) in the vicinity of Bonney Pass:
Miriam-Above3908BonneyPass.JPG
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Last edited by Eli Boardman on Wed Dec 29, 2021 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

Summit of Miriam Peak with color ramp from 4000 m to 4003 m, showing the distance of 17 ft. across the area above 4003 m:
Miriam-Summit4000to4003m.JPG
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Key col of Miriam Peak with color ramp from 3907 m to 3908 m:
Miriam-Col3907to3908m.JPG
Miriam-Col3907to3908m.JPG (98.08 KiB) Viewed 4286 times
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by seano »

Oh nooo!!!! 😭

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to do this. Miriam doesn't change the nature of the northern Winds' 13ers much -- it's a slog and a short class 4 scramble from Bonney Pass according to SummitPost. Thankfully Doublet or Bobs Towers didn't make the cut, as they look much harder (I can't find info online, and I don't have Bonney or Kelsey with me).

EDIT: Haha, just kidding! I do have Bonney & Bonney with me. Bobs Towers were named for and first climbed by Robert and Miriam Underhill in 1939. The traverse is class 4 from the north, with rappels on the steeper south sides. The west gully is 5.0 from a traverse of Miriam (which was class 3 back then...).

Doublet is class 4 from the Warren saddle via the south chimney.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by bdloftin77 »

Eli Boardman wrote: ↑Tue Dec 28, 2021 10:24 pm Most notably, I found a new ranked Wyoming 13er! It's Miriam Peak, with 315 ft. of prominence!
Sweet! Thanks for taking a look at Wyoming! John and I have been mainly looking at Colorado, so it's cool people are looking elsewhere, too. Congrats on your new finds!

I'm sure quite a few people will be interested in your QGIS tutorial - looking forward to seeing that post.

P.S. If you like working in feet better than in meters, the "las2las" tool from rapidlasso is helpful, as well as going from the typical UTM coordinates to latitude/longitude. Once you download from the main page, the "las2las" tool is in the Bin folder of the download.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by 9patrickmurphy »

There a few soft-ranked 13ers in Hawaii as well, lots of possibilities for new peaks!
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Matt Lemke »

Oh sweet! So cool...seems like no one has officially and publicly climbed the WY 13ers then :lol:
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

seano wrote: ↑Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:44 am Oh nooo!!!! 😭

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to do this. Miriam doesn't change the nature of the northern Winds' 13ers much -- it's a slog and a short class 4 scramble from Bonney Pass according to SummitPost. Thankfully Doublet or Bobs Towers didn't make the cut, as they look much harder (I can't find info online, and I don't have Bonney or Kelsey with me).

EDIT: Haha, just kidding! I do have Bonney & Bonney with me. Bobs Towers were named for and first climbed by Robert and Miriam Underhill in 1939. The traverse is class 4 from the north, with rappels on the steeper south sides. The west gully is 5.0 from a traverse of Miriam (which was class 3 back then...).

Doublet is class 4 from the Warren saddle via the south chimney.
Haha, I was rooting for Doublet though...such an interesting looking peak; I need an excuse to climb it. THIS picture on that Summitpost page is pretty cool, and I can see how the original maps missed that sharp spire.

As far as the difficulty of Miriam, Kelsey rates the "Northeast Slope" from Bonney Pass class 4 and the West Ridge class 3, presumably starting at the col with Bobs Towers, which could probably (?) be reached on scree.
bdloftin77 wrote: ↑Wed Dec 29, 2021 1:58 pm Sweet! Thanks for taking a look at Wyoming! John and I have been mainly looking at Colorado, so it's cool people are looking elsewhere, too. Congrats on your new finds!

I'm sure quite a few people will be interested in your QGIS tutorial - looking forward to seeing that post.

P.S. If you like working in feet better than in meters, the "las2las" tool from rapidlasso is helpful, as well as going from the typical UTM coordinates to latitude/longitude. Once you download from the main page, the "las2las" tool is in the Bin folder of the download.
Good to know, thanks. I'm downloading so many tiles that it would be a real pain to convert them individually, and AFAIK the batch-processing capability of LASTools is reserved for the pro-version, so I'll probably stick with meters and use the exact conversion factor in Excel for now. I'll post some QGIS steps later tonight--though it's really nothing special, just loading the tiles into QGIS version 3.22.2 and applying a custom color ramp, then manually tweaking the high/low cutoffs until I have an understanding of the topography and can pick appropriate individual returns. Then I copy-paste the coordinates into Excel and screenshot the summit/saddle vicinity for future reference.
Matt Lemke wrote: ↑Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:21 pm Oh sweet! So cool...seems like no one has officially and publicly climbed the WY 13ers then :lol:
Teresa has! That's the reward for climbing "extra credit" summits while backpacking over passes I guess! *Or spending bonus days bagging extra peaks :wink:
Last edited by Eli Boardman on Wed Dec 29, 2021 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by glenmiz »

bdloftin77 wrote: ↑Wed Dec 29, 2021 1:58 pm
Eli Boardman wrote: ↑Tue Dec 28, 2021 10:24 pm Most notably, I found a new ranked Wyoming 13er! It's Miriam Peak, with 315 ft. of prominence!
I'm sure quite a few people will be interested in your QGIS tutorial - looking forward to seeing that post.
Yes, I'm fascinated and interested. Thank you Eli and all of you who have expertise and are applying it here.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by d_baker »

Eli, I just clicked on your sig line/website link, and took a quick look at your online guidebook for the 13ers in WY. Nice job! If I ever go there, I'll make sure to put your info to use!
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

Today's update...I must admit this is a little addictive, and I need to take a break after this round. Anyway, I've been trying to settle a few other questions in Wyoming, but so far nothing interesting has turned up. Gannett is <probably> more prominent than Cloud Peak, since it gained 7 ft. compared to a gain of 2 ft. on Cloud. There's theoretically LiDAR available at Cloud col, but I've been having trouble with it and I think the tiles are corrupted. Someday I'll download it the proper way through the USGS entwine archive. Frustratingly, there is LiDAR directly adjacent to the area of the Gannett col, but it's not quite covered!

None of the highest 13ers have changed rankings--the Grand Teton gained 5 ft. and Fremont gained 9 ft.

It's still unclear which is higher between Helen and Turret--I get elevations of 13,625 ft. and 13,626 ft. respectively, but there's a moderate-sized cairn on Turret and the difference is well within the uncertainty of the analysis. There's a similar situation with Bow (13,020 ft. --> 13,027 ft.) and Whitecap (13,020 ft. --> 13,023), though in this case, the difference is big enough and the summits are both flat enough that I'm barely comfortable declaring Bow the winner.

The only 13er to lose elevation so far is Black Tooth, which has dropped from 13,005 ft. to 13,002 ft., barely surviving as a 13er!
PeaksSoFar2.JPG
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d_baker wrote: ↑Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:34 pm Eli, I just clicked on your sig line/website link, and took a quick look at your online guidebook for the 13ers in WY. Nice job! If I ever go there, I'll make sure to put your info to use!
Thanks! It's a work in progress (10 peaks are not yet finished, not to mention the Miriam situation), but I thought it would be worthwhile to write something that was more detailed than the super-terse descriptions in Kelsey/Bonney but more general than most trip reports. There will be critics on both sides of the beta-sharing debate, but this is my attempt to strike a reasonable balance in what I share, with enough information to know what to expect on each route, but not so much as the 14ers.com-type of step-by-step guide.
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Re: Wyoming LiDAR Findings (New WY 13er!)

Post by Eli Boardman »

Checked a few peaks just for fun today...and I think I found a couple new peaks in the Cirque of the Towers in the southern Winds.

Overhanging Tower went from 264 ft. of prominence to 312 ft., and I'm pretty confident in this one.

Sharks Nose only has 129 ft. of prominence on the map, but it has a crazy sharp col with Watch Tower, and I <think> it has at least 303 ft. of prominence, potentially more. There's a LiDAR shadow right in the col area, and I tried to find the lowest path around one side of the blank area...but adjacent points differ by as much as several meters, so it's a bit tricky. I'd appreciate it if someone else would be able to take a look at this peak and see what they come up with independently.
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