Mega Goals by Rick Baugher

Individuals began reporting completion of the 9 Idaho 12ers in 1989. By 2001, all 44 Idaho County High Points had been reached. In 2011, the last of the 114 Idaho 11ers was climbed.* A logical future peakbagging goal will be to complete the 358 Idaho 10ers (peaks with at least 300 feet of prominence). As of March 2020, the best individual showing was 283 for a completion rate of 79%. It is possible that up to a dozen Idaho 10ers have yet to be climbed by anyone.

Another challenge would be to climb all of the ranked peaks in any given Idaho county. Of the 44 Idaho counties, there are probably less than 12 counties where all of the ranked peaks have been climbed. Climbing all of the peaks in any given mountain range is another challenge. Part of this challenge is figuring out what defines a mountain range. Idaho has at least 114** mountain ranges. Perhaps we should wait for someone to climb just one peak in all 114 mountain ranges.

The ultimate peakbagging challenge is to see how many of Idaho’s 5,856 ranked peaks*** can be climbed. The best showing by one individual (as of March 2020) is 1,886 summits for a completion rate of only 32%. Idaho is NOT climbed out! For this endeavor, the challenge, skill set, resourcefulness, time commitment, and focus required for a goal of this magnitude far exceeds the standard notion of what it takes to ‘climb a mountain.’ The reward for pursuing such arcane mega goals probably won’t result in fame and fortune. In the end, it comes down to a sense of personal achievement and enjoying what you are doing, whether by yourself or among friends. For some of us, climbing Idaho’s mountains is the ultimate hobby.

Editor’s Notes:

*True Grit (11,100 feet)

**By the count of Wikipedia, Idaho has at least 114 features that the online encyclopedia counts as mountain ranges. This includes not only the big mountain divisions but also subranges, hill groupings and ridgelines. By my count, there are 79 mountain groups worthy of separate designation as a mountain range or subrange as I see a number of ridges that Wikipedia counts as separate ranges as part of other mountain groupings. In the end, the number is an arbitrary decision left up to cartographers and guidebook authors.

***A ranked peak (as used by the Lists of John website) is a peak with at least 300 feet of prominence. At least a third of the peaks listed on the Lists of John site have less than 300 feet of prominence as do many named Idaho peaks.

I believe that the 300-foot rule was originally used by the Colorado Mountain Club. Rick informed me that Colorado climbers Mike Garrett and Bob Martin adopted the concept of ‘rank’ and explained peak ranking in their 1989 book “Colorado’s High Thirteeners.” Further acceptance of the term came in 1999 when Gerry Roach adopted it in his book ‘Colorado Fourteeners.’ Most countries outside the United States use meters rather than feet as a measure of a mountain’s height. In those cases, 100 meters (about 328 feet) is the standard rule for prominence of a ranked summit.

It is my belief that many points with less than 300 feet of prominence are worthy of being classified as separate peaks. A bump on a ridge is not enough in my mind for separate peak designation by itself. Factors that I consider are distance from a ranked peak and the quality of the route or routes on an unranked peak. As for officially-named peaks that do not have 300 feet of prominence, I note that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names does not follow the 300-foot requirement.