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Famous Peak Lists
    Date first written: 2004.09.28     Last Review: 2017.10.10

Table of Contents
1. Introduction to Peak Lists
2. Eleven Thousanders of Canadian Rockies
3. Ultras

1. Introduction to Peak Lists
Throughout the world, there are various famous lists of "peaks", such as the Eight Thousanders in the Himalayas, the "Fourteen Thousanders" in Colorado, the "Eleven Thousanders" in the Canadian Rockies, and the Munro's of Scotland (peaks over 3000 feet). The general idea of these lists is simply to list how many "peaks" there are in a given area that exceed a given height. These are "height based" lists.

A list is two things: a certain "class" and a certain "area". Eg: All 11,000ers in the Canadian Rockies.

Any list eventually runs into the need to have a rule as to what constitutes a separate peak, otherwise the list just keeps growing as subpeaks are promoted to full blown peaks. Eg: In the Rockies, first there was North Twin and South Twin. But now the list commonly referred to in various publications also has a "Center" Twin, and a West Twin, making up 4 twins. The most common definition of "separateness" is to have a rule that any peak on the list must have a vertical separation of a certain amount. For example, the Colorado rule for separate peak is a 500 foot vertical separation. The name these days for this vertical separation is "prominence". Nowdays, most peaklists are moving toward having some measure of prominence in their definitions.

Originally, all the famous lists were based mostly on height, with prominence only used as a means of determining what is allowed as a "separate peak". However, once prominence became formalized, new lists emerged which were based ONLY on prominence. The most famous of these "prominence only" lists is a list called the "ultras". An ultra is a peak with 5000 feet of prominence. The original definition was 5000 feet, but then was changed to 1500m (4921') to make it international. Peaklist.org says there were 1,524 peaks with 1500m prominence as of June 10, 2007. As of 2012.08.22, wikipedia only lists 1515 ultra prominent peaks with 5000 feet. (which makes sense, because 5000' is slightly higher than 1500m). See Ultra Prominent Peaks in Wikipedia. It is possible that these lists could change a bit due to newer surveys, but it is more stable than any "height only" list, because it doesn't depend on anyone's opinion as to what is a separate peak and what isn't.

In addition to height based lists, and prominence based lists, there are hybrid lists, which combine both height and prominence. For example, an interesting list is the list of all peaks in Canada over 3000m, and with a prominence of 1000m. Such lists are sometimes more interesting than pure prominence lists, because the height threshold ensures that the peak is truly of mountaineering significance. The height rule eliminates the possibility of a 1500m forested bump on an island. Such a list could be called a list of 3000/1000ers.

One other factor that is sometimes considered when making up lists is how far the peak is from some other peak. Eg: A peak that is less than 1 km away from another peak on the list is not considered a separate peak, regardless of prominence. This property is called "Isolation". Although there is some recognition of the notion of isolation in certain famous lists, it is not usually included in the definition.

In Bivouac, we have three important "classes" of peaks:


  Type Prominence --------------------------------
  P2000 2000m of prominence
  P1000 1000m of prominence
  P500 500m of prominence
Rather than giving each class a name such as "ultra", we refer to them as "P2000's, P1000's and P500's peaks. There are 81 P2000's in North America. How many have you climbed?

2. Eleven Thousanders of Canadian Rockies
The list of Eleven Thousanders (11,000ers) is a well known list, and has been talked about for at least 30 years. The first person to climb all the peaks in such a list was Don Forest, and the second was noted Bivouac author Rick Collier. (Rick was the first to do all of them without air support, since Don flew in and out of Clemenceau and perhaps Tsar and Robson. Bill Corbett was the third person to summit all the 11,000 peaks, and wrote an excellent book on these peaks.

The simple definition of this list is this:

All the 11,000 foot "peaks" in the Canadian Rockies

Sounds simple enough, but exactly which peaks are on the list varies depending on what definition you use for "separate peak", and what elevation data you use. For example, Bill Corbett's latest book on the 11000ers, has 54 peaks listed. The current bivouac data shows there to be 56 peaks on the list. (In fact, even the Bivouac list was recently revised from 53 to 56, based on a detailed examination of certain peaks. However, if you apply the standard 500 foot prominence limit which has been adopted by other such lists, you end up with only 42 distinct peaks.

Here is a link to the Bivouac version of the list without any limit on prominence:

Canadian Rockies Eleven Thousanders 56 peaks

If you want to reconcile this list with the 54 peaks in Corbett's book, you'll find that the Bivouac list does not include Mount Huber, because the best available data (TRIM) indicates that this peak is only 10984 feet.

Prominence Filter
Here are the true "separate" peaks if you apply the standard 500' prominence limit: List with 500 foot prominence limit 43 peaks.

Here are the ones that were excluded: Peaks below 500' prominence threshold 12 Peaks

Height Variation
Near 11,000ers: Apart from prominence, the other thing that affects the list is the possibility that a more accurate survey would suddenly include additional peaks. These are usually referred to as "Near 11,000ers". The "near" means peaks that are close enough that there is more than one chance in 100 that they could be on the list. This means we have to decide what the statistical accuracy of our heights are. This list should include all peaks that are close enough to 11,000 feet to be within the data tolerances. The TRIM data is supposed to be accurate to within 5 meters, 90% of the time. For NTS survey heights, I think we can use 10m, and perhaps even 5 m. See Map Accuracy Theory and Terminology. However, any peak whose height is only known by contour interpolation could be out as much as 50' (which is 15m), assuming the contours are absolutely accurate. So the three possible tolerances are 5, 10, and 15m. Therefore if we use 50 feet (15m) as the tolerance, we come up with a list of peaks between 10950 and 11000.

Peaks between 10950 and 11000 feet 5 Peaks

And if you really wanted to be safe, your list could include all the peaks within 100 feet of the magic number:

[a href=PeaksInArea.asp?Area=Canadian%20Rockies&Units=feet&MinHeight=10900&Columns=MultiUnit]All Peaks over 10900 68 Peaks

The above list includes the following "marginal" peaks: [a href=PeaksInArea.asp?Area=Canadian%20Rockies&Units=feet&MinHeight=10900&MaxHeight=11000&Columns=MultiUnit]Peaks between 10900 and 11000 feet 13 Peaks

My latest tests indicate that a handheld GPS with WAAS can be accurate to within 5m, so it is possible that the heights of the Alberta peaks can be refined by some hand held readings.

Prominence Limit Discussion:
 Corbett's list (and all the Calgary based lists) don't yet use the concept of a minimum prominence. So their lists includes some fairly insignificant peaks such as Lunette Peak, with only 125 feet of prominence. (Lunette Peak is actually just a sharp spur on the south ridge of Assiniboine). It got onto the list in 1901 whne Outram was confused, thinking he had reached the summit of Assiniboine. Similarly Rae Peak (Goodsir Center Summit) has only 44m prominence, and until recently was viewed as part of Mount Goodsir. And since the they are on the list, there is nothing to prevent someone from including other bumps that may come to light.

The Bivouac policy for heights is to use the latest BC Government TRIM data if available. Trim spot heights have a stated accuracy of being within 5 meters of the true value, 90% of the time. This is much more accurate than any height based on interpolating 100' contours. The comparable accuracy for an interpolated height is only within 15m, 90% of the time (and that assumes the contours are absolutely accurate).

Other books use elevation data derived from NTS topographic maps. While NTS survey heights may well arguably as accurate as TRIM data, many of the 11,000' peaks do not have a NTS survey height. In this case, the "official" guidebooks simply interpolate the 100' contours. For example, the height of Mount Huber is given as 11,050', which is based on the fact that there is a tiny 11,000 contour on the old imperial topo map for this peak. The table below shows the height of Mount Huber according to various sources:


  Feet Meters
  BC Basemap 10,984 3348
  Bivouac 10,984 3348 (BC Basemap)
  NTS 1:50,000 Imperial Interpolation 11,050 3368
  Corbett's 11000er book 11,050 3368
  Putnam (1973) 11,051 3368

3. Ultras
As previously discussed, an "ultra" is a peak with 1500m of prominence. There is no minimum height, so an ultra can be a forested bump on an island, as long as it has 1500m of prominence. The original definition was 5000 feet,

Various peak list enthusiasts worldwide have compiled a list of ultras for the whole world. According to Wikipedia in 2012, there are 1524 such peaks worldwide. Below are some links to various lists from Bivouac.

  1. North America Ranges 268 peaks
  2. Canada 141 peaks
  3. United States 130
  4. British Columbia 102
  5. Alberta 9
  6. Alaska 66
  7. Colorado 3

* the above totals have to be updated from time to time to account for changes in the database.