What are Peak Baggers? (29 characters)

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Peak baggers climb sets of peaks, such as the Seven Summits, using lists to organize their climbs. Lists may be based on height, isolation, or prominence. Some peak baggers take risks, but many travel in groups for safety. Climbing can be dangerous, but not all climbers are careless.

Peak baggers are climbers who seek to climb a complete “set” of peaks, such as the highest peak on every continent, every fourteen years in America, or some other similar goal. Difficult peak bagging lists like The Seven Summits are generally considered a lifetime goal – few peak baggers in the world have successfully scaled Everest, Aconcagua, Mount McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, the Vinson Massif and the Puncak Jaya. Peak baggers use lists to organize the mountains they’ve climbed and to compare notes with other climbers. A peak list can be a great way to set a climbing goal for a season or a lifetime.

Peak baggers use a variety of criteria to create lists. The most common list is a high point list, which includes the highest measured peaks. In addition to the seven summits, high point lists might include the ten tallest mountains on a continent or within a particular nation or state. Some of the climbs on the high point lists can be extremely technically demanding, requiring skill and support personnel, while others can be undertaken by less experienced climbers.

Other peak lists may measure mountains by height threshold, isolation from other peaks, or prominence. Height threshold lists are lists of peaks that meet certain height requirements such as fourteen and 8,000 meter peaks. Many climbers try to successfully scale all peaks above a certain threshold as a lifelong challenge, and some regions of the world, such as Colorado, have a high concentration of tall mountains to climb, making them popular locations for beaters to travel in. Isolation is defined as the distance to another peak of equal or greater height. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, has infinite insulation value. In clustered mountain areas, the insulation might be calculated as only a few hundred feet.

Prominence, also seen as vertical rise or shoulder drop, is an important factor in peak lists. Importance is probably best explained by example. Let’s imagine that we have just climbed a mountain. You start to go up and, after going down for a while, you find yourself going back up. You have entered a gap or saddle, a depression between two high points. When you reach the top of your climb, the distance from the base of the saddle to your highest point is the prominence. Mountains with a high prominence are independent of other peaks and lands.

Peak baggers are sometimes criticized by other climbers because some of them take risks to achieve their goals, such as climbing during inclement weather or without a partner. Many peak baggers try to travel in groups or with clubs for climbing support, not just to counteract criticism but because it’s safer and more enjoyable. In 2006, several stories of climbers left to die on the slopes of Everest raised questions about the ethics of climbing, especially the dangerous high-altitude ascents. Some older climbers have suggested that the bagging peak fad was responsible for the increasing number of inexperienced climbers encountering serious problems while climbing.

Like any outdoor sport, mountaineering can be dangerous for people at all experience levels. Unfortunately, some rockers lose sight of what’s important when climbing, and this sometimes costs lives. However, others are ethical, responsible, and savvy, and the careless actions of some peak baggers shouldn’t taint our opinion of the rest of them.

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