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Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:42 pm

Hi Gang,

As I've noted elsewhere, my ongoing attempts to finish the California Thirteeners often put me atop unnamed summits, and I have added a few pages to summitpost.org describing them. Some of these have unofficial names, so I use those whenever possible, surrounding them with quotation marks (as is the convention in guidebooks, etc.)

Other unnamed peaks are clearly shoulders of more prominent mountains, even though they're technically mountains in their own right (at least when objective criteria are applied). In those cases I've included the name of the major mountain within parentheses in both the Name and Query Name fields. For example, see my UTM515178 (Northwest Lamarck) (which, in my opinion, ought to be the major mountain anyway).

Finally, some unnamed peaks are quite simply unnamed peaks, and referring to some other peak from the name would still seem both awkward and arbitrary. Other summitpost.org authors (as well as guidebook authors) have referred to such peaks by elevation, but I would argue that this practice adds little for recognition purposes and is inherently unstable, particularly when only the approximate elevation of the summit is known. Instead, I've employed a compact UTM format for unnamed California peaks that is commonly used to refer to locations throughout the Sierra Nevada in R. J. Secor's The High Sierra - Peaks, Passes & Trails. This format has been criticized for not including the UTM zone. However, it would seem even more unlikely that two peaks in different UTM zones would share the same UTM coordinates than it would be for two peaks in different regions to share the same proper names (i.e., the UTM format is sufficiently specific.)

Thoughts?

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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby Bob Burd » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:22 am

Obviously there will be varying opinions around the world, so I don't think one solution works best for all. Local traditions should probably be followed if applicable. In the case of the Sierra Nevada, unnamed peaks have been listed as "Peak 12,xxxft" as far back as the 1950s with Voge's guide, followed by Roper and then by Secor. Your comment that Secor commonly uses the UTM designation is only partially correct. He does use it for some locations such as passes or specific locations where to leave a trail, but not for the designation of unnamed peaks themselves. If one wants to look up an unnamed peak in Secor's book in the index, they are all listed as "Peak 12,xxxft" (with a "+" to indicate no spot elevation given, based on highest contour). The fact that they may change in the future isn't really a big deal. Having peaks with the same name isn't a big deal as that is already very common. How many Black Mtns do we have on SP? Context will differentiate them.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:37 am

Bob Burd wrote:Your comment that Secor commonly uses the UTM designation is only partially correct. He does use it for some locations such as passes or specific locations where to leave a trail, but not for the designation of unnamed peaks themselves.


Quite so. Secor clearly favors referring to peaks by elevation, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was just pointing out that I wasn't the only one using such UTM coordinates in the Sierra. I obviously favor them over peak elevations for the reasons I outlined in my original post, but I am willing to follow whatever standard this group agrees upon, universal or region-specific.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby CSUMarmot » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:28 am

I think the biggest problem is that you're only using 1 UTM coordinate in your title. It isnt terribly unlikely that multiple peaks share the same easting. Put the northing in there to clarify.

You dont need to put it in your title, but do have the UTM zone somewhere in the description. If the peak is somewhere near where two UTM zones cross, this could cause confusion. It shouldn't if you have a good understanding of UTM, but not everyone does.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:09 pm

CSUMarmot wrote:I think the biggest problem is that you're only using 1 UTM coordinate in your title. It isnt terribly unlikely that multiple peaks share the same easting. Put the northing in there to clarify.

You dont need to put it in your title, but do have the UTM zone somewhere in the description. If the peak is somewhere near where two UTM zones cross, this could cause confusion. It shouldn't if you have a good understanding of UTM, but not everyone does.


Actually, the UTM format I'm proposing includes both the easting and the northing, each to a resolution of 100 meters. For example, UTM515178 has easting 351550 and northing 4117810 (see this page for more details).

Note also that I am suggesting the use of these UTM coordinates within a specific region, the Sierra Nevada, the climber's portion of which lies completely within UTM zone 11. Regardless, it's hard for me to understand the ambiguity issue, since many mountains in different regions (and sometimes in the same region) share the same proper names. Despite their other shortcomings, UTM coordinates will tend to be more distinct than even proper names. Note that an elevation-based naming scheme would not be particularly distinct even within the Sierra Nevada region.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby surgent » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:13 pm

I am the one who has commented on your pages on the practice of naming peaks by a single UTM coordinate alone. My comments are not an ad hominem at you, but an observation about citing unnamed peaks by something more descriptive than a set of numbers.

The Sierra Club's various peaks sections groups (me, I follow the Desert Peaks group) has used this single UTM practice a long time in its peaks guide. I am aware of this practice. This is something I find perplexing. Why they do this, I don't know.

In the field, if you are following a canyon or ridge or some other well-defined path, then yes, a single UTM is useful to let you know where you are or when to make a turn, since the "other" coordinate is dictated by natural features you have been following.

Naming a peak by a single UTM coordinate makes the peak unsearchable. No one will ever know to find that peak by that name.

There is no set method to cite unnamed peaks. Elevation figures may be the best since these can be read from a topo map and not a GPS. Appending parens with a tiny bit more info may help, e.g. Peak 10,567 (Range Name).

A related issue is peaks with common names, like "Pine", "Brushy", "Ragged" or "Black", etc. Often, to avoid complete confusion, citing the range or county or something that separates it from the mishmash is very helpful.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby Bob Sihler » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:55 pm

surgent wrote:Appending parens with a tiny bit more info may help, e.g. Peak 10,567 (Range Name).

A related issue is peaks with common names, like "Pine", "Brushy", "Ragged" or "Black", etc. Often, to avoid complete confusion, citing the range or county or something that separates it from the mishmash is very helpful.


Those are good suggestions, and I think I'll use them in the future and maybe go back and edit some of my pages that could benefit from this.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby MoapaPk » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:11 pm

At one time, the DPS used a "single UTM" that was actually a composite of the x,y UTM offsets from the corner of the sheet. That's not we mean here, right?
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:40 pm

surgent wrote:I am the one who has commented on your pages on the practice of naming peaks by a single UTM coordinate alone. My comments are not an ad hominem at you, but an observation about citing unnamed peaks by something more descriptive than a set of numbers.


One might argue that a raw elevation is perhaps no more descriptive than the fairly precise location of the peak in question.

surgent wrote:The Sierra Club's various peaks sections groups (me, I follow the Desert Peaks group) has used this single UTM practice a long time in its peaks guide. I am aware of this practice. This is something I find perplexing. Why they do this, I don't know.


I've outlined several specific reasons above for which I personally favor this practice.

surgent wrote:In the field, if you are following a canyon or ridge or some other well-defined path, then yes, a single UTM is useful to let you know where you are or when to make a turn, since the "other" coordinate is dictated by natural features you have been following.


It does not appear that you completely grasp the UTM convention being proposed. The single UTM designation provides BOTH easting and northing information. The first three digits specify the easting, to the nearest 100 meters. The second three digits specify the northing, to the nearest 100 meters. For example, UTM829540 actually has 382860 easting and 4054000 northing, but the rough location allows one to quickly locate the correct peak on the Mount Darwin USGS quadrangle.

Naming a peak by a single UTM coordinate makes the peak unsearchable. No one will ever know to find that peak by that name.


This is not a criticism of the proposed method per se, just a criticism of unnamed peaks in general. Even unofficial names suffer to some degree because their names fail to appear on USGS quadrangles. I am simply proposing a method to refer to unnamed peaks before they acquire even unofficial names.

There is no set method to cite unnamed peaks. Elevation figures may be the best since these can be read from a topo map and not a GPS.


As mentioned previously, both methods allow one to locate the unnamed peak on a USGS quadrangle, but the UTM designation makes finding the peak relatively straightforward (vs. examining every elevation, or worse, closed contour on the map).

Appending parens with a tiny bit more info may help, e.g. Peak 10,567 (Range Name).

A related issue is peaks with common names, like "Pine", "Brushy", "Ragged" or "Black", etc. Often, to avoid complete confusion, citing the range or county or something that separates it from the mishmash is very helpful.


I agree with Bob that these are both excellent suggestions and plan to incorporate them as much as possible into the names of my mountain pages.
Last edited by schmed on Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:45 pm

MoapaPk wrote:At one time, the DPS used a "single UTM" that was actually a composite of the x,y UTM offsets from the corner of the sheet. That's not we mean here, right?


That is precisely what is being discussed, yes. As mentioned in the original post, it is the same method Secor uses to identify many features in his guidebook. These specific UTM peak locations (i.e., those which are also Thirteeners) actually have a much longer history than the summitpost.org site itself.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby Bob Sihler » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:01 pm

I'll admit that I am completely unfamiliar with the UTM format, which is why it would be no help to me if I were searching for specific peaks. Guidebooks I own refer to unnamed peaks by elevation and/or nicknames.

Since that's what I'm used to, the way I would search for an unnamed peak either on SP or by Google would be to go by the elevation. If I were looking at, say, my topo map of Kings Canyon and Sequoia and saw a peak with, for example, an elevation of 12,698', that elevation is what I would use to search. My hunch is that most people would search for an unnamed peak by its elevation.

If the peak has no officially recorded elevation, that method obviously wouldn't work, but I still wouldn't use the UTM approach. Most likely, I'd start by searching for nearby peaks and then go from there. SP actually has a pretty good tool for doing that.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby MoapaPk » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:56 pm

A trouble with elevation is this: Since the change to an earth-centered datum and geoid, many peaks have "new" elevations. Even without the recent change of datum, there are significant differences between the USGS elevation determinations of the 1950s-1960s, and those in the 1990s or late 1980s. Many of the more recent USGS elevations (which must be better because they are newer, right?) are fairly imprecise, based on purely photogrammetric data with no real optical or differential GPS checks. Some put a lower peak in a range as a highpoint. There are some pretty disturbing examples at Pahrump Point, the Ireteba Peaks, and the Arrow Range of NV.

Check the elevation of Mt Whitney, both from the ludicrous summit sign and from the most recent PID files from the USGS:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ca ... ourteeners

The UTM approach is rather specific. The x,y coordinates won't change much (if the implicit datum is wgs84), whereas nothing guarantees that there won't be several peaks in the neighborhood with the same elevations (within error). The two disputed highpoints in the Arrow Range of NV have ~the same elavtion (taken off 1960s and 1990s maps), but are significantly different in x,y. I think the context of the peak description gives the UTM zone pretty well.

My systems: I give the approximate area, a USGS topo map fragment, and the elevation as reported on the USGS maps cited. And this is all on a personal web site. I generally don't want obscure peaks to be on peakbaggers' radar... but all that has changed with sites like peakbagger.com and with list of John, which compel people to overrun anything with requisite prominence.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby schmed » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:53 pm

Bob Sihler wrote:I'll admit that I am completely unfamiliar with the UTM format, which is why it would be no help to me if I were searching for specific peaks.


It would not be helpful if you remained unfamiliar with it, no. However, like familiarity with the meaning of topographic contours on a map, you might find it helpful once mastered. Regardless, you'd be in a better position to comment on its merits.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby Bob Sihler » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:46 am

MoapaPk wrote:A trouble with elevation is this: Since the change to an earth-centered datum and geoid, many peaks have "new" elevations. Even without the recent change of datum, there are significant differences between the USGS elevation determinations of the 1950s-1960s, and those in the 1990s or late 1980s. Many of the more recent USGS elevations (which must be better because they are newer, right?) are fairly imprecise, based on purely photogrammetric data with no real optical or differential GPS checks. Some put a lower peak in a range as a highpoint. There are some pretty disturbing examples at Pahrump Point, the Ireteba Peaks, and the Arrow Range of NV.

Check the elevation of Mt Whitney, both from the ludicrous summit sign and from the most recent PID files from the USGS:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ca ... ourteeners

The UTM approach is rather specific. The x,y coordinates won't change much (if the implicit datum is wgs84), whereas nothing guarantees that there won't be several peaks in the neighborhood with the same elevations (within error). The two disputed highpoints in the Arrow Range of NV have ~the same elavtion (taken off 1960s and 1990s maps), but are significantly different in x,y. I think the context of the peak description gives the UTM zone pretty well.

My systems: I give the approximate area, a USGS topo map fragment, and the elevation as reported on the USGS maps cited. And this is all on a personal web site. I generally don't want obscure peaks to be on peakbaggers' radar... but all that has changed with sites like peakbagger.com and with list of John, which compel people to overrun anything with requisite prominence.


I get what you're saying, and I know firsthand that GPS usually gives an elevation higher than what's on the map, but my point is that until the maps are changed, which may be never, it makes more sense to go with what's on maps since that's what most people will be using to begin with.
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Re: Unnamed peak pages

Postby Bob Sihler » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:48 am

schmed wrote:
Bob Sihler wrote:I'll admit that I am completely unfamiliar with the UTM format, which is why it would be no help to me if I were searching for specific peaks.


It would not be helpful if you remained unfamiliar with it, no. However, like familiarity with the meaning of topographic contours on a map, you might find it helpful once mastered. Regardless, you'd be in a better position to comment on its merits.


Maybe, but please see my comment above. Until the system changes, help users by going with the system. It's very easy to show that the UTM format is not the preferred one, at least not on this site.
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