As someone who has almost no interest in highpointing, I still found this a very interesting and worthwhile read. I suppose one of the things that kind of put me off about highpointing was living in Nebraska for several years. There are some very beautiful and challenging scrambles on ranked summits in the Pine Ridge and the Wildcat Hills. Yet, these are often ignored by many that would prefer the drab and unchallenging highpoint of Nebraska to be of greater value.
I suppose highpointers would heartily disagree with me, but summits at the higher end of the Effort Scale seem worthwhile and memorable, while the stuff at the other end of the scale seems tedious. However, as the old saying goes, "to each his own". If this is where your interest is, more power to you. Thanks for posting this.
Thanks for taking the time to read it! I'm grateful for your comment. I mention in the article that for some the difficulty of highpointing is finding the motivation to visit landmarks (and we might add "just to check a box"). I suppose that is why I have done all the more difficult one first. I also have reasoned that, if necessary, I can save the landmarks and drive ups for my golden years. However this year I have visited a lot of less challenging highpoints and I have been very pleased with how much I enjoyed them. This endeavor is also an excuse to get out on vacations and to see new places, and so it's not just about climbing mountains (as many highpoints aren't mountains). Of course, yes "each to his own". Have a great evening!!!
I like how it combines altitude gain and distance. The scale is, of course, US oriented, so It would be great to think how to make it global. I wouldn't go for a Himalayan summit, representing max point, but would try to find something more universal. Our ancestors were as a measure of effort simply using the number of hours needed. But that would need to be carefully standardized - for example - number of hours a reasonably (average) fit hiker needs to reach the goal with an average pulse rate of 140 or whatever...
Having a good universal effort measure is important, because effort is one of key measures how difficult a tour is. The other one is technical difficulty. You can have a tower which requires only a little effort, but is very difficult regarding climbing skills. That's why we have good technical difficulty scales (SAC scale for hiking, all sorts of scales for technical climbing).
And the story of tour difficulty is not finished yet. Having effort and technical difficulty equal, one tour can be easy and the other one very demanding regarding orientation. Especially on a difficult terrain, where modern navigation is of little help. A good description helps - if there's one available and you are not left to apply moment-to-moment judgement.
And finally, there's also a psychological element, coming from situations, where you can't belay well, or there's huge objective danger (rock fall, avalanches, etc.) or simply due to vertigous situation, which itself is not dangerous, but has an impact as well.
Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to know you found the article interesting. Haven't you done some articles about the effort of mountain climbing?
The scale could be applied to any grouping of mountains one defined. In this case the grouping is US State Highpoints, and that is the only thing US oriented about it. The equation could be modified to do unit conversion thus not being limited to miles/feet.
Have a great day!!!
As a two time 48 finisher and statistics major, I loved this!
I'm so glad to hear you liked it, and that you appreciate the mathematical nature of it. I minored in Stats in college. :)
Two time 48 finisher is impressive!!! When are you heading to Alaska and Hawaii? :)
First woman to repeat the 48. Did HI's HP once. Won't be doing AK's Denali unless someone else pays for it.
I did Denali for under $5K. The trick to keeping the cost down is to go self-guided and to buy used gear (but keep it quality).
Congrats on the double 48s though. Nice accomplishment.
Marie (my partner) and I met on a trip to the USA that included an ascent of Mt Elbert (Colorado) so we have one ticked off..... only 49 more to go!
Only 49 eh! Well keep on trucking brother!
We are Swedes and started out with hiking in Sweden and in the alps before we got an offer to work at our company's HQ in PA. A long move over the ocean and a few weeks later, we had our house, our stuff and a rental car and a three day weekend. We got a book on hiking in Western Pennsylvania and decided on a trail at Mt Davis - it seemed like a mountain and wasn't a too far of a drive. A sunny 9/1/2001 hike with a rattlesnake at the trail that ended on a hill with a high lookout tower. A sign told us that this was the highest point in PA.
Back home, we found out that every state had its own highpoint, to no ones surprise, and that there is a Highpointers Club. We became members and followed up PA with MD and WV that fall. After three years at the HQ, we moved back to Sweden with 30 HP in the bag. Five years later we flew to Hawaii to hike up Mauna Kea and became 50 State Highpoint completers. During these eight years, we started to visit the different highpoints in the states of Sweden and did some climbing in the alps. Not all of them the highest point of something but mountains we likes. With glaciers, crampons, maybe camping or a stay at a hut.
We found a new interest, starting low, going higher, as opposite to vanman that started high and may also bag the lower ones, maybe not.
The 50 projects that have to be taken on when highpointing the 50 US states, can be thought of as building projects, where 13 are like making a cutting board, 8 are like making a simple bird house, 10 a garden shed, 4 a single story house, 14 a three story mansion, and 1 a Skyscraper - that is the point the Effort Scale seeks to get across.
Being a Structural Engineer, I loved your analogy. I've built two 3-story mansions, two 1-stories, 4 Garden Sheds 3 bird houses and 9 cutting boards. I've never designed a skyscraper in real life nor in my high-pointing life--and never will. I'm already retired, but not from high-pointing. It's something I've done while travelling cross-country on road trips. I tagged Sunflower and Taum Sauk this past October. I even checked out a book from the library!
I climbed Guadalupe Peak in 1975 when the Park was new and the route started from the highway directly south of the peak. You just headed straight up the drainage to a saddle then turned west to the peak. I think it might have been more strenuous than hiking the built trail that they have there now.
Thanks for the article!
Thank you for the kind comment! Good luck on the rest of your HPing adventures!!!
Interesting analysis and "Effort Scale" Walter, as with any formula, it is as good as its factual base, accuracy of assumptions, and completeness. Congratulations on your “efforts” in this regard. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that your assumptions are debatable/adjustable and as such can be refined. Further, other/additional variables impact effort and could be added. For example, you state that your formula assumes acclimatization to altitude and therefore does not include elevation. I believe this to be a short coming of your scale. A general recommendation is that individuals should acclimatize one day for each thousand feet climbed above ten thousand. This recommendation, to prevent/minimize mountain sickness, would change your effort scale. In addition, physiological studies have documented that physical “effort” increases exponentially with increasing altitude due to a lower concentration of oxygen.
Something that is also notable in your article, due to its absence, are references to works that have already been completed on this topic. It appears you have devised your formula and written your article utilizing information from other sources, including the “Martin Classification of Difficulty for U.S. State Highpoints.” I think it is incumbent upon you to recognize this in your article and place the source(s) of that information in your references. For example, this Summit Post article on Highpointing https://www.summitpost.org/highpointing/969589 contains the Martin Classification of Difficulty for U.S. State Highpoints.
Again, thanks for your article, your approach merits continuing effort/improvement to account for all variables that influence mountaineering “effort.”
Hi! I have been to several of these High Points and while all in all it seems to be a great summary of the difficulty to get to these high points, I believe the Pennsylvania information is incorrect. It is actually about a 2 mile out and back hike from a parking lot to the high point marker, which is on a rock near an observation tower. I believe you are going by a sign on the road which I believe is not the true high point.
Thanks for your comment. There are several routes on Negro Mountain which lead to it's highpoint Mount Davis. The shortest route is the "drive up" option. The Effort Scale is referring to that option. To drive up locate Mount Davis Road. As that road tops out look for Wolf Rock Road and take it south. Very soon you will encountered a sign pointing to the Pennsylvania highpoint. Turn left turn toward the highpoint and within a few yards pull into a parking lot. You will find the "rock" you mention next to the summit tower. You might have to walk a couple dozen steps, so few that the Effort Scale considers it no effort. Have a great day.
It looks as Dr. Martin has already beat me to it but I would like to again point out that an essential element in any allegorical and especially a mathematical formula for perceived effort has to be elevation. I thoroughly enjoyed the article, but without an elevation component in the equation, it (pardon the pun) falls flat. An example of this is the relative ranking of Mt. Marcy as harder than Mt. Elbert. Also, I would to point out that an arbitrary number of 15x for vertical elevation compared to horizontal distance is problematic to say the least. Gradient must be included. For example, it is exponentially harder to climb a vertical ladder for 5,000' than it is to walk up an inclined plane the same height. You do have a distance component but it is weighted linearly not as part of a gradient ratio of rise/run. Lastly, Dr. Martin's index needs a bibliographical credit. Thank you for your efforts! Keep Klimbing!
It is not impossible to account for elevation as each individual reacts differently to elevation. The article does mention "Although not part of the Effort Scale model, elevation numbers are listed for interest sake and to alert climbers that acclimation techniques, for mountains over 7,500 feet, might need to be part of their climbing preparations." Feel free to come up with your own effort scale that includes elevation if you have a way to do that. I'd be curious to read it. If fact you might want to include in your article "climber fitness level", as similar to elevation "fitness level" could be considered an essential element of perceived effort. The insights, experimental results, observations, formulas, and conclusions contained in this article are my own - anyone assuming otherwise is mistaken. Likewise, anyone attempting to take credit for, or claiming they influenced this article, is also mistaken. This article was derived solely from common knowledge (for example elevations, and distances), and from my own thoughts. No one aided me in writing this article and no one besides me has edited this article - it has been, indeed, a solo effort. Have a great day!