Major Peaks Synopsis

Criteria for evaluating the status of a peak:

  1. Elevation — height of the summit above sea level; traditionally, the most fundamental measure of a peak.
  2. Projection — height of the summit above surrounding peaks and ridges; defines a peak’s topographic dominance over its neighbors.
  3. Prominence — height of the summit above the saddle that separates it from the nearest higher peak; defines a peak’s topographic independence from its neighbors.
  4. Isolation — horizontal distance between a summit and the nearest higher peak; defines a peak’s topographic separation from its neighbors.
  5. Visual Appeal — refers to a peak’s overall alpine appearance, which is enhanced by features such as hanging glaciers, ragged arêtes, sheer faces, and summit horns.
  6. Classic Status — refers to a peak’s emotional appeal, cachet, or mystique, as established through climbing literature and campfire lore.

The resulting categories and groups:

Special Groups — Five groups containing first-ballot selections (with some overlap) that are rich in specific attributes. These 38 peaks comprise the cream of the crop.

  • Regal Six — dominating mountain monarchs of the Cascades and Olympics.
  • Landmark Twelve — topographic landmarks; grand sentinels of the Cascades.
  • Super Eight — smaller peaks with great projection, visual appeal, and classic status.
  • Big Ten — all of the region’s 9000-foot non-volcanic peaks.
  • Tall Twelve — all of the region’s 8900- and 8800-foot non-volcanic peaks.

Geographic Groups — Thirty-four groups that represent the principal mountainous regions of the Washington Cascades, Canadian Cascades, and Olympics, extending from the Coquilhalla Mountains in the far north to the Goat Rocks in the far south. All together, these alluring “alpine constellations” contain 201 peaks.

Wild-Card Groups — Two groups containing a total of 15 alpine gems that just didn’t fit into any of the aforementioned Special Groups or Geographic Groups.

  • Outlier Twelve — worthy mountains that stand aloof from all the other groups.
  • Satellite Three — notable peaks located on the flanks of major strato-volcanos.

Total = 222 mountain-peaks

Plus…Major Alpine Crags — 32 alpine crag-peaks with exceptional visual appeal and/or classic status.

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