Guidelines For Determining County Highpoint Elevation Gain *

* by Edward Earl

Part I. General

These guidelines prescribe the method for determining the elevation gain for which one is credited in the county high point front runners list (FRL).

1. Arbiter

Some individual cases may be difficult to deal with in terms of general guidelines. In cases requiring some discretion, a Designated Arbiter may make the final ruling. The Arbiter should make every effort to follow the spirit of these guidelines.

2. Types of Elevation Gain

Two types of elevation gain are recognized: total gain and net gain. Total gain (described in Part II) includes (almost) all reasonably necessary elevation gain, including regains after a loss, from trailhead to summit. Net gain (described in Part III) does not include regain after a loss but may include unnecessary gain.

3. Eligible Modes of Travel

Elevation gain is eligible for credit only if done by muscular effort (e.g. hiking, biking, rowboat). Any mode of travel assisted by an outside power source (e.g. any motorized vehicle, running water, livestock, or ski lift) is excluded.

All elevation gain that can be counted toward one's effort in reaching a high point must be made in one continuous period of eligible modes. Any ineligible mode of travel "clears the record"; i.e. eligible travel made before and after ineligible travel is not summed.

Part II. Total Gain

4. Eligible Starting Point

The total gain for a climb is the minimum possible starting from any point accessible by a high-clearance, street-legal, four-wheel, two-wheel-drive motor vehicle. Any such starting point is not rendered ineligible by the availability of some other approach (e.g. four-wheel-drive road, railway, or any cable-driven vehicle such as ski lift or gondola) that would reduce the elevation gain.

A person may count elevation gained on any gated road (by an eligible mode of travel) unless the owner has a policy to grant vehicular access through the gate to anyone who requests it.

5. Ascending and Descending

All net elevation gain to the high point from the lowest point anywhere on the route may be included. In addition, extra elevation gain due to losses during the ascent may be included if the net drop is at least 80 feet.

If a route is ill-defined (e.g. because it includes cross-country travel),
The Arbiter may make a ruling as to the elevation gain for that route.

6. Multiple Areas

If a county has multiple possible HPs, the elevation gain for them are not summed unless the summation would be compliant with Section 3. In other words, the highpointer must travel between the HPs via an eligible mode of travel. In addition, the total elevation gain claimed for the county cannot exceed the sum of the necessary elevation gains (based on Sections 4 and 5) for all areas.

For high points that are a long distance apart, one would be very unlikely to use this rule to an advantage. However if, for example, there are two possible HPs with 800 feet gain to one of them and a 200 foot loss and regain between the two, one could claim a 1,000 foot gain for the pair if both are climbed on the same hike.

Part III. Net Gain

7. How Computed

Net gain is the elevation difference between the summit and the lowest point anywhere on the climbing route. Unlike total gain, net gain allows "Earlizing", which is the practice of hiking down from the start, or starting lower than necessary, to boost one's elevation gain. However, the low point must be readable on a topographic map, i.e. subsurface points (e.g. caves, mine shafts, SCUBA dives) are not eligible low points.

8. Post-Summit Low Points

If a person reaches the low point of the hike after the summit and then climbs up to a point from which he climbed up to the summit, the post-summit low point may be used to compute net gain. However, the second paragraph of Section 3 still applies; you cannot climb different sections of the route on different trips and still count the sum.

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