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Peak bagging, also known as hill bagging, mountain bagging, Munro bagging or simply bagging, is an activity in which hikers, hillwalkers and mountaineers attempt to reach the summits of a collection of peaks, usually those above some height or prominence in a particular region, or having a particular feature.
Many climbing clubs around the world have created lists of peaks with various attributes, often used by peak-baggers. Two examples of such lists are Colorado's 54 fourteeners and New Hampshire's 48 four-thousand footers. See List of mountain lists for more.
The generally accepted convention for peak baggers to consider a peak summited is to reach its highest point by any route using only human power (e.g., hiking, climbing, skiing, biking). However, for some peak baggers, simply being present at the highest point is sufficient to check the summit off the list. This allows for driving to car-accessible summits and declaring the summit "climbed". Drive-ups are allowed by the U.S. State Highpointers club and by the County Highpointers club, whose members are collectively attempting to reach the highest point in all 3,142 U.S. counties.
Some peak baggers increase the challenge of summiting a list of peaks in various ways, such as by requiring a minimum vertical climb per peak, climbing within a time limit, climbing in different seasons (such as winter), or climbing the same peak multiple times by different routes.
Various organizations have adopted rules for what to do when a peak is on private land or otherwise inaccessible, whether off-road vehicles may be used, etc.
Peak bagging is distinguished from highpointing. In peak bagging, the targets are the peaks of mountains or hills, and the popular lists usually require that the target pass some threshold of elevation or prominence. In highpointing, the goal is only to reach the highest point in some geographic area (e.g. county, state, or country), whether or not it is a peak.
In some parts of the world, a summit register or summit log may be located in a watertight container such as a jar or can, stashed in a protected spot. Peak baggers often will write a note or log entry and leave it in the "summit log" as a record of their accomplishment. Increasingly, peak baggers are also logging their summits online by signing virtual summit logs.
Arguments for and against
Traditional climbers or adventurers may argue that peak bagging devalues the experience of climbing in favour of the achievement of reaching an arbitrary point on a map; that bagging reduces climbing to the status of stamp collecting or train spotting; or that is seen as obsessive and beside the point. For example, in explaining why he chose to remove some minor peaks from his guidebook, climber Steve Roper wrote:
Most of the peaks had as their first ascenders those who in a former day would have been called explorers but now could only be thought of as peakbaggers, interested primarily in trudging endlessly over heaps of stones, building cairns, and inserting their business cards into specifically designed canisters especially carried for this purpose. But perhaps I am being too harsh. They’re having their fun.
Some baggers say peak bagging is a motivation to keep reaching new summits. For mountain range peak lists, attaining the goal provides the peak bagger with a deeper appreciation for the topography of the range. For example, each peak is typically enjoyed from multiple aspects as the peak bagger also climbs the major neighboring summits.
There is also concern that encouraging the climbing of certain mountains has caused trail damage from erosion through heavy use and, where mountains have no trails, created trails. Proponents note that many peak baggers become active in maintaining trails and more aware about mitigating damage than casual hikers.
- In Scotland; see, for example, Muriel Gray (May 1993). The First Fifty: Munro-bagging Without a Beard. ISBN 0-552-13937-8.
- Highpointers.org US Highpoint guide
- 4000 footers in a single winter season
- Andrew Becker. "I Was Here - A High Sierra search for the voices of climbers past - Sierra Club, Sierra Magazine, July/August 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- Steve Roper, The Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra, copyright ©1976 by Sierra Club Books
- peakbagger.com Information and statistics about the mountain peaks and mountain ranges of the world
- peakbucket.com A data tracking and visualization website for peakbaggers
- peakery.com Worldwide peakbagging community with over 300,000 peak summit logs and peak lists
- peakbook.org International peakbagging community with worldwide peak lists
- peakhunter.org Global summit log project with crowd sourced peak data