The age-old discussion of what constitutes a distinct peak continues...
Unfortunately it is not as simple as a single prominance cutoff for all regions. Colorado, for example, uses 300' which makes sense, but the CMC includes El Diente and North Maroon Bell for historical reasons for a total of 54, but then excludes Challenger Point with a similar lower prominence. For conservative consistency and inclusion, I assume all 55 on my Colorado list.
California also claims a 300' hurdle, but many include Thunderbolt, Starlight and Polemonium with lesser prominence values resulting in 15 fourteeners. I concur with 15 on my California list.
Washington uses a 500' prominence, or Rainier would contain two peaks using a 300' rule. Absurd. There's only 1 fourteener in Washington.
Mexico uses 1,500' prominence to exclude the many summits of Ixta, among other duplicate summits. Then depending which elevation you assume for Perote and Colima, they float in and out of fourteener status. Giving each the benefit of the doubt, I assume each is a fourteener, resulting in 8 fourteeners in Mexico.
Alaska and Canada are perhaps the trickiest. The North Summit of Denali is not a distinct peak, so one must use a large enough prominence 1,350' to exclude it, but that also excludes other peaks like Churchill, Good Neighbor, and others. Using too large a prominence would exclude Aello at 1,450' prominence. So I assume arbitrarily a 1,400' prominence to exclude Denali north Peak but minimize other exclusions. The many summits of Logan must also be excluded with an appropriate promenence selection. a 1,400' prominence results in 10 Canada fourteeners, 10 Alaska fourteeners, and a shared 5 on the border of Canada and alaska.
Summing these all up (55+15+1+8+10+10+5) equals 104 peaks in North America over 14,000' tall. One could cull the lowest 4 fourteeners to create a hundred highest list. But I think it's more elegant to include all 104 fourteeners in North america. Central America, Hawaii, Greenland simply do not have any fourteeners, so the point is moot whether or not to include them.
This variable prominence list I describe is more appropriate than a hard 500 meter cut off for the entire region. Different geographies warrant different prominence criteria. Otherwise, many peaks in Colorado and California would be erroneously culled, which I guarantee would elicit disagreement in those areas.
I've stood atop 95 of these 104 fourteeners, lacking Popo (erupting), 5 Sierra peaks, 1 Alaska, 1 Canada and 1 border peak. I am planning a Sierra's trip in September 2012 to hike up the last five there. The three arctic peaks are on my horizon. Popo is on a geologic waiver for now...
*9-12-12 edit: I completed the 15 California fourteeners 9-9-12, bringing my tally to 100 of 104 North American fourteeners.
My thoughts... Dave
Last edited by davehart
on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:27 am, edited 2 times in total.