The OverviewOne day I asked myself: what elevation would be number 100 on the Washington State Olympics Range Top 100 list? Then I realized that no such list exists from which to find my answer. So what's a peakbagger to do? Why create the list, of course. And thus was commenced the long road that eventually led to this page. This page is the host page for two lists: one for ALL of the summits in the range sorted by elevation and the other for ALL of the summits sorted by prominence.
There are 471 prominence (greater than or equal to 400P) summits in the range. And there are approximately 552 prominence plus non-prominence (officially named but shy on the 400P cutoff) summits in the range, depending on what gets counted and what doesn't. There are several <400P unofficially-named summits in the Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains. These were not included but have been appended to the lists for completeness. They take no part in the ranking.
Who will be first to do the Olympics Top 100? Come on! Somebody go for it. Make me proud.
(Addendum: since posting this, information has come to light that a couple of folks may have already finished their own Olympics Top 100. One person, so far unreachable, is or was from Grays Harbor County. The other person is Jack Christiansen of Bainbridge Island. For Jack's story, see lower down in this page.)
For the ELEVATION sort, click HERE.
For the PROMINENCE sort, click HERE.
The RulesI used the data Jeff Howbert painstakingly put together on his Peakbagger's Asylum (why reinvent the wheel?) by boustrophedonically rastering through the Olympic Peninsula section of his quad selector.
For the first order of business I had to determine the boundaries of the Olympic Range. I searched for definition online but found none. I asked the Washington State Board of Geographic Names but they didn't know for sure. I asked the United States Geologic Survey, but they had no definitive answer for me either. In simple terms, the Olympic (Mountain) Range could be considered to be any uplifted land of the Olympic Peninsula. So three boundaries are no-brainers: the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the north, and the Chehalis River on the south. The eastern boundary would be Hood Canal. But an uncertainty exists in the southeast corner: do the Black Hills (the Capitol State Forest southwest of Olympia) count as part of the Olympics? No one seemed to know for sure but the consensus was that they do not belong to the Olympics. And so, I left them out. This means that the southeast boundary of the Olympic Range is the Satsop River from where it flows into the Chehalis River trending NNE to where it nearly touches Hood Canal.
The second order of business was to decide what criteria to use for including a summit in the list. Or, more to the point, how to create the list. I have certain personal criteria for my own climbing log, but this list isn't my climbing log. One could make a list that includes only summits with enough prominence to be considered a peak (by Washington standards*). Or one could make a list of all summits regardless of prominence. For this latter list, the only requirement I set was that the summit have a discernible summit point, that it not have zero prominence (except Kloshe Nanich, with its zero prominence, was kept for now). This ruled out a few named ridges and a couple of other non-summits that Howbert felt worthy to list on his site (is a "bench" a summit?). In the end, I decided to make the elevation list for both, putting the list together and using a separate ranking column for each. With this, an Olympics Top 100 can be ascertained either way. Note that for the prominence-sorted list, all zero prominence summits were kept in the list since they appear at the end of the list and could not therefore affect the ranking of any summits above them.
* Washington standards, what exactly are they? Many years ago, 400 feet of prominence was selected as the cut-off for peak status in the state. This means that any peak with less than 400 feet of clean prominence is not a peak. Why use clean prominence and not mean or max prominence? This is a valid question. I personally have always held true to the clean prominence rule because I'm not interested in quasi-truths and clean prominence removes any ambiguity. So my list uses 400P as the cut-off. If you want to make a list with some other cut-off, feel free. Actually, I may do this myself later. But not right now.
The AnswerSo what is the answer to my question?...
On the prominence list, #100 on the Olympic Range Top 100 is a tie between three peaks:
Mount Carrie Quad 1 (5900+F, 850P or 500P), Mount Carrie Quad 2 (5900+F, 500P or 850P), and Cat Peak (5900+F, 750P), also on the Mount Carrie Quad. Mount Carrie Quads 1 and 2 are very close to each other along the same divide. Since they both have the same undefined ("+") elevation, whichever peak is actually higher in the field holds the other peak's prominence. Hence the higher peak would have 850P. The lower would have 500P. Note also that any one or all of these three peaks could be as high as 5949 feet (the contour intervals are 50 feet on this part of the map), which would place them a few places higher in the ranking above Mount Wilder (5939F).
On the ALL summits list, #100 on the Olympic Range Top 100 is a tie between two peaks:
"Mount Delabarre" (Pk 6024, 1144P) on the Chimney Peak Quad and "Mount Barnes, Southeast Peak" (Pk 6024, 624P) on the Mount Queets Quad.
#100 on the Olympic Range Top 100 by Prominence list is Wellesley Peak (6758F, 958P) on the Wellesley Peak Quad,
#100 on the Olympic Range Top 100 Named Summits (officially named on the map) is Mount Wilder (5939F, 939P). Note: Gray Wolf Ridge 2 (7076F) was omitted from the ranking since it is not officially named and only the second-highest summit on Gray Wolf Ridge, the highest being Gray Wolf Ridge 1 (7218F). Gray Wolf Ridge as a named ridge has a highpoint and that highpoint is Gray Wolf Ridge 1.
The NotesOn occasion there were disconnects between Howbert's data and my own indagations. These disconnects were in the form of small elevation corrections or application of unofficial names for unnamed prominence summits. There are probably other unofficial peakbagger names that I have yet to hear about. I also added a summit or two that he missed.
Many summits contain multiple (more than two) summit point candidates. The notes column highlights these extra summit point candidates, where appropriate.
There are several occasions where the highpoint of a summit is not exactly where the words for the summit appear on the map. The $10,000 question is how far away does the highpoint have to be from the named point to be its own separate summit? For example, is Gibson Peak on the Colonel Bob Quad the 4517 spot elevation or is that spot point something that should be called "NE Gibson"? Is the higher south summit of Mount Appleton the real Mount Appleton or is it something else? General usage is that the south summit has a different name ("Mount Cotleton", as in applets and cotlets).
According to the aforementioned Olympics Climber's Guide (Third Edition), the map-marked location of Burnt Mountain (4910F) on the Port Angeles Quad is apparently in error or contrary to local usage. The real (what's real now?) or intended location is here (5550+F) about a mile to the west where the actual forest fire occurred that gave the mountain its name.
Sams Ridge 1 (3680+F, 480P) and Sams Ridge 2 (3680+, 480P) are connected to each other through a 3200 saddle and are also both connected through another 3200 saddle to higher ground to the east. As such, both summits have 400+ feet of prominence.
Kloochman Rock Quad 3 has a 3561 elevation marked at the summit but the highest closed contour visible is only 3520+ (i.e., 3559-). Is there a miniscule 3560+ closed contour that is not readily visible on Acme Mapper or is the elevation in error?
Geodetic Hill (3018F) was combined with Spruce Mountain since the former is the summit of the latter.
Named landforms with zero prominence that were deleted from the elevation list because they have no identifiable summit point:
Crystal Ridge on the Mount Carrie Quad
Three O'Clock Ridge on the Mount Zion Quad
Deer Ridge on the Tyler Peak Quad
Halfway Rock on the Port Angeles Quad
South Point on the Mount Walker Quad
Lookout Rock on the Morse Creek Quad
Semple Plateau on the McCartney Creek Quad [a "bench" is not a summit]
Grennan Hill (120+F, 0P) on the Sequim Quad was not deleted because it is already at the very bottom of the elevation list.
Kloshe Nanich (3160F, 0P) was not deleted because it does contain one small 3160+ closed contour that does contain the toponym. Kloshe Nanich is an historic lookout (see here). Now if it can be argued that Kloshe Nanich only refers to the lookout and not the ground on which it sits, then this name can also be removed from the elevation ranking.
For unnamed prominence summits perhaps difficult to find on a quad, the section (e.g., Section 14) the summit resides in has been provided in the notes column, except for summits which reside in a quad without section information (e.g., wilderness areas).
I did not verify the accuracy of all of Howbert's saddle elevations for clean prominence calculations. I do not vouch for him in this regard, but I do know he made very few mistakes across the state.
The CourtsJeremy Schmidt has created two climbing lists for the Olympic Range akin to Jeff Howbert's Home and Back Court lists for the Cascades.
Jeremy's two lists are the Rain Forest Court for peaks roughly making up the rainy west side of the range and the Rain Shadow Court for the drier peaks making up the east side of the range. Both lists use a 400P cut-off. His lists can be found Here.
Who will be the first to complete these two climbing lists?
Who will be the first to complete the Top 100?
The First?A retired architectural engineer from Bainbridge Island may be the most prolific Olympic Mountains peakbagger in the history of the range. Jack Christiansen began his long climbing career in the early 1950s. In 1954 he scaled his first Olympics peak, Copper Mountain, with his wife Sue. Since that time Jack took on and vanquished 100 more Olympics summits, most of these being the highest in the range. This does not even include his many repeats of summits. For instance, Jack climbed Mount Ellinor and Mount Washington each over seven times. But did he climb the 100 highest from No. 1 to No. 100?
Jack used the well-known Olympic Mountains Climbing Guide put out by Olympic Mountain Rescue to formulate the list that he would be attempting to conquer. But that climbing guide has never listed a definitive Top 100 even going by whatever peaks it chooses to include in its book. For instance, in the Third Edition (1988), on the very last page, the book simply lists all of the summits above 7000 ft (about half of which are officially named on the map). According to this list, there are 45 summits above 7000 ft. What about the next 55? That clearly wasn't the book's modus. By my count, there are just 20 "prominence" summits above 7000 ft and then three more that do not "have prominence", these being the Middle and East peaks of Olympus and Mount Walkinshaw at 329P, 282P, and 378P respectively.
Given the above, what are some of the differences between Jack's accomplishment and my Olympics Top 100 (by elevation)? Jack was kind enough to furnish his climbing log. This log contained a total of 101 Olympics summits conquered (but he says he may have missed a few). Yet a great many of these summits were not among the Top 100 even by the standard that only officially named (USGS-named) summits be used, which goes down to about Mount Lawson at 5401 ft at #100. Of Jack's 101 summits, three are for summits lower than Lawson: Kimta Peak (5399 ft), Everett Peak (5250+ ft), and Lightning Peak (4654 ft). So right away we see there are only 98 (101 minus 3) possible summits with which to apply to a Top 100 comparitive analysis. Further, there are five summits in Jack's log that don't appear on my list at all: North Brother, Adelaide Peak (north of Mount Clark), "Alpha" (NE of Mount Cruiser), and "Hugin" and "Baldur" (two Valhalla summits).
Or, let's look at it another way...
For my Top 100, the peaks that Jack has done are denoted with an asterisk ( * ) in the NOTES column of the list.
The peaks on my list that Jack has not done are the ones missing an asterisk:
|Hal Foss Peak|
|Gray Wolf Ridge 2|
(Pk 7076, 676P)
|Wellesley Peak Quad 1|
(Pk 7060, 740P)
(Pk 7040+, 440P)
|"Big Buck Peak"|
(Pk 6998, 718P)
(Pk 6950 , 750P)
|Wellesley Peak Quad 2|
(Pk 6810, 650P)
|"Grand View Peak"|
(Pk 6759, 599P)
(Pk 6720+, 640P)
(Pk 6628, 708P)
|"West Wellesley Peak"|
(Pk 6490, 410P)
|Maiden Peak Quad 2|
(Pk 6434, 474P)
|"Mount Elk Lick, NE Peak"|
(Pk 6410, 450P)
|Mount Olympus Quad 1|
(Pk 6351, 751P)
|Mount Olympus Quad 2|
(Pk 6346, 1266P)
(Pk 6320+, 600P)
|East Peak (of Mt. Anderson)|
|Maiden Peak Quad 3|
(Pk 6230, 470P)
|Mount Steel Quad 1|
(Pk 6206, 486P)
|Mount Olympus Quad 3|
(Pk 6130, 410P)
(Pk 6038, 1038P)
Plus two others Jack may have climbed owing to their proximity to peaks he has climbed:
(Pk 6100+, 1700P)
|Jack may have considered Mount Appleton's true summit to be this summit|
|"Mount Barnes, SE Peak"|
(Pk 6024, 624P)
|Jack may have considered Mount Barnes' true summit to be this summit|
This is a significant number of summits, eleven of which are officially named on the map.
So what is my conclusion?
Jack's accomplishment is definitely notable and worthy of a special name, like the "Christiansen 100" (sort of a historical Top 100 like that of the Bulger List for the Cascades). But did Jack summit all 100 summits in the Top 100, by whatever the measure? I would have to say no. So at this time it is my assessment that the Olympics Top 100 has still not been completed (unless that fellow from Grays Harbor County has done them all).
There is a newspaper article by Suzanne Downing that appeared in The Bainbridge Review on October 25, 1989 that is about Jack Christiansen and his climbing accomplishment. 1989 was the year Jack finished his personal list of the 100 Olympics summits. He finished on "Mount Delabarre."
There is also an article by Shelby Scates that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at about the same time. The article provides many of the same details as the Downing article. In the Scates article Jack is quoted as saying, "I had already done 50 or 60 of the more accessible peaks. So 15 years ago [circa 1974] I decided to set a goal for 100." Notice Jack doesn't say he is going for the highest 100 and in fact the article never mentions a highest 100 at all, merely a total of 100. The same is true of the Downing article.
To end, the last paragraphs of the Scates article gave me a chuckle: "The Kingdome is very durable. It will outlast all of those other domed stadiums with fabric roofs in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Pontiac, Mich.--and they cost more to build. Christiansen's Olympic record, however, could outlast the Kingdome."
The ErrataRemove "*" from Makah Bay Quad 1 on elevation list. 11/25/09.
Add Mt. Zion. 1/29/10.
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]