Highpointing is the sport of visiting (and finding) the point with the highest elevation within some area (the "highpoint"), for example the highest points in each county within a state. It can be considered a form of peak bagging.

Over the years, this pursuit has been taken up by thousands of individuals and expanded to include other quirky geopolitical goals; visiting the highest point in each county in a state; summiting every peak in a region above some round number (such as 2000'); and reaching the highest point on each continent (the now famous "Seven Summits"). No official definition exists, but the broadest view holds that any geopolitical region can be "highpointed."

Highpoint "rules"

There is neither a governing body of highpointing, nor any official rules. This is an activity intended primarily to motivate the journey, not to focus on the acquisition of the summits themselves. [http://www.highpointguides.com/ Highpoint Guides] holds to these general principles:

→ The goal is to attain the highest natural point. In other words, regardless of what man-made structures have been placed on top, the goal is to stand atop the highest natural point.

→ If the natural high point is covered with a structure and that structure is accessible, even on a limited basis, entering the structure and standing over the presumed high point is the goal. If the structure is completely and permanently inaccessible -- eg a military base or private telecommunications tower - the goal is to reach the highest accessible natural point.

→ Any route to the top - walking, climbing, riding a cable car, dropping off a helicopter - is a valid means of attaining the high point. Each individual must decide what constitutes good sport. Many will prefer reaching the high point under their own locomotion, but the goal of highpointing is reaching the highpoint - means is a personal choice.

Starting in the early 1900's, a few pioneers of highpointing began visiting the highest geographic point in each of the 50 states of the United States. In the early days, this endeavor involved dispute and lore, as the tools to precisely map every square inch of the country were just beginning to find wide-spread use - and this was perhaps a significant part of the charm.

At least one report has been made for an ascent of every state highpoint in Australia, a report for an ascent of every provincial highpoint in Canada, and another report for every "mainstream" country highpoint in the European Union. ("Mainstream" meaning, for example, that Mulhacen was climbed in Spain rather than Pico de Teide of the Canary Islands.)

To date, no person is known to have reached the highest point in every country in the world. To see a list of the country highpoints, visit http://www.highpointguides.com/

County highpoints

The most prolific highpointing organization is the [http://www.cohp.org county highpointers] club, whose members are collectively attempting to reach the highest point in all 3,142 U.S. counties.

There can also be found reports by people who have climbed all of the county tops in Ireland, or who make climbing the county tops in the United Kingdom a goal.

For many highpointers, simply being present at the highest point is sufficient to check the highpoint off the list. This allows for driving to car-accessible summits and stepping out of the vehicle and declaring the summit "climbed." While this extreme case is scoffed at by most mountaineers, it would be almost ridiculous to visit certain very non-prominent highpoints any other way. Drive-up highpointing is allowed by the U.S. State Highpointers Club and the County Highpointers Club. Note, however, that some individual members have their own rules, such as attempting to hike to even car-accessible summits.

In the American West, as well as the Appalachians (notably in New England), county highpoints often present serious climbing challenges. Examples include Mount Rainier, Grand Teton, and, as an extreme example, Mount McKinley. However in many other counties, particularly in the Plains states, the highest point might be a small rise along a farm road, and there is no way to "climb" to the highest point in a literal sense. For this reason, the county highpointers also bag highpoints that most would consider insignificant.

Such an exercise is valuable to the county highpointer because the holy grail is a state completion, i.e. reaching the highest point of every county in a state. To that end, both the state's topographically prominent county highpoints and less significant hills (or even mere mounds) must be reached - be it by driving or climbing as the individual locations warrant. Also, if the highest area or areas in a county are located along a boundary, they must be visited. The highest summit within a county, being lower, does not count under such circumstances (as is the case with the highest point in Connecticut).

The county highpointers' [http://www.cohp.org/FAQs_and_Rules.html rules] are strict. Jerimoth Hill, the highest point in both Rhode Island and Providence County serves as example. While state highpointers for years accepted driving RI 101 to the point closest to the summit of to count for a visit to that state's highest point due to access issues, county highpointers require that one visit the slightly higher rock outcrop at the actual summit to claim . Indeed, the highest natural terrain must be visited, regardless of climbing difficulty and other issues, and as described [http://www.cohp.org/FAQs_and_Rules.html here] .

Many counties, especially flat and low-lying ones, have not been fully surveyed and thus have no single defined highest point, just multiple areas with the same highest contour line. In order to claim to have successfully climbed the county's highest point, then, it is necessary to visit ALL those areas, unless one can clearly be ruled out by line of sight from another one or by virtue of having been graded or excavated. Even if one area has an elevation indicated on the USGS map, the county highpointer must visit other areas within the same contour until and unless the maximum elevations are resolved by an official survey. For flat counties with multiple points, county highpointing is more akin to geocaching than peak bagging, since logically only one of the points is the highpoint, and the rest are not. In this case the number of virtual 'caches' is largely an artifact of the size of the contour interval (for a given area, the larger the contour interval, the more 'possible' highpoints there will be). For instance suppose the two highest points in a county are 101 feet and 106 feet above sea level, and that neither has a spot elevation on the map. If the region is mapped with 5-foot contours, there will be only 1 "highpoint". However, if the region is mapped with 10-foot contours, there will be two "highpoints", and county highpointers will be required to visit both points to claim the county.

External links

* [http://highpointers.org/ highpointers.org: State highpointers club]
* [http://americasroof.com/ americasroof.com: State highpointers news blog and summit guide]
* [http://thegearjunkie.com/adventure-50-state-highpoint-quest 50 State Highpoint Quest]
* [http://highpointadventures.com/ HighpointAdventures.com: information about state highpointing]
* [http://www.statesummits.com/ StateSummits.com: photographs from state highpoints]
* [http://www.highpointguides.com/ HighpointGuides.com: searchable database of country highpoints]

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