"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How I Keep Losing a Mountain

When I first got the idea of climbing all the 2000 foot "mountains" of Minnesota, I found someone else had compiled a list of them. The first ten were described in detail, but the other eight were very sketchy. One, Peak 2030, was the one that would give me problems. Here, from the list, I'd gained a mountain, but not having its location, I lost it the first time.

Looking at other sites, such as Peakbagger, I found other lists and none of them agreed. So, I decided I had to make my own list by searching USGS maps. There were over 200 points measured over 2000 feet in the Arrowhead region and I made a list of them by hand: elevation, latitude, longitude. The problem with the USGS maps was that, at the level one could see the elevation, one could not see the location of the nearest peaks, so one could not make easy checks for the "saddles" between them, to see if there was at least 300 feet of prominence (without this detail, the number of peaks was overwhelming).

I made my own map and started adding the peaks when... Peak 2030 disappeared. Again. I had the latitude and longitude, but going back to the USGS maps, it wasn't there. I had undoubtedly written a number down incorrectly (given my handwriting, one mistake in all that data was being fastidious), but I probably had either the latitude or the longitude or correct, so I searched due North, South, East and West, to no avail. I had the thought that someday I'd claim to have climbed all the peaks and someone would say: You missed Peak 2030!

My final list was 28 peaks (compared to the first lister's 18 and Peakbagger's 13), plus possibly one more, the missing Peak 2030. I wasn't very happy with my list. For one thing, less than a mile from the 2012 foot Moose Mountain [there are several Moose Mountains in Minnesota] was a peak measured as 2017 feet, which no one else seemed to see. It's a matter of which USGS map one uses; the area was surveyed twice about 15 years apart and none of the elevations match.

It's the time of year to climb. The trees haven't leafed, so one can see where one's going, but it isn't cold, nor are there mosquitoes yet. Gas prices are making each trip expensive, so I don't want to make unnecessary trips. It was time to check the list again.

Another web search led me to a site that had a list of 18 "2'ers" in Minnesota. The list was exactly the same as the first one I saw (which doesn't mean it's correct, but that they used the same source) and much to my delight, Peak 2030 reappeared, with a latitude and longitude that put it far from where I was thinking it should be. [Here's the data]

Now it's time to see if it truly fits the 300 foot criterion. Perhaps I'll lose it again.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Wait. Are you tracking mountains or subatomic particles here? Because these so-called mountains are acting a lot like quantum particles.

There's my sorta deep thought for the day.

mike_hinterberg said...

What do(n't) you like about the listsofjohn list?
It uses the 300ft prominence rule, and lists the prominence.

It looks to me like there are 18 ranked 2ers, 3 unranked but named (seems worth it to climb those if somebody bothered to name 'em, eh?) and Gunflint Lookout, right on the edge at 294' prominence (not sure how tall you are, but worth a visit, and a standing jump or tall hat if necessary).

Looks like Pt. 2017 has Pt. 2065 to the west as a parent, whereas Moose Mtn. has the required prominence.

So what are the other possible peaks you have? Curious, from my armchair.

SteveQ said...

@Mike: A third inspection shows that Pt 2017 is actually connected through a series of ridges - one only 10 feet wide and at 1720 at one saddle - so, they're right and I'm wrong. None of my maps go down to the nearest foot of elevation for saddles, so I may have added a lot of "near-misses" like 2017. There are dozens of named peaks not on the list (I seem to be the only person who knows the names of some, though) in the Misquah Hills, which has several of the 2100+ peaks. I'm starting to think, as far as the official list, that the listsofjohn may be correct!

Biki said...

A "bonjour" from a passbagger :
(3725 so far)
In our club moutain passes have to be "officialy named" (USGS map for exemple) to be valid.