Have you ever wondered how many of those who finish one of the peakbagging lists stop, and how many go on to another list? Or simply, how many people have finished each of the lists? For more information on the history of the various lists check out the peakbagging page. For the lists themselves see the list of lists page.
Here are the numbers of hikers completing each of the official Four Thousand Footers Committee (FTFC) lists over the decade 1992 to 2001 (inclusive), together with comparable numbers for the ADK 46ers. The FTFC numbers are summarized from a table of completers by year available on the FTFC's web site, and the 46ers from their web site.
|White Mountain 4000 Footers||2256||96|
|New England 4000 Footers||701||37|
|New England 100 Highest||242||25|
Let me make some comments on the numbers for "All Seasons":
- By far the majority of peakbaggers only do the White Mountain
Fours. I suspect that the preponderance of that group is even
greater than the table suggests, since it is very likely that many
hikers simply mark completed peaks in their copy of the White
Mountain Guide and never send in an application to the
Committee. On the other hand I believe that a far greater
proportion of those completing the more challenging lists apply for
- Why the big drop in numbers between the NH Fours and the NE
Fours? I believe that it is largely due to many hikers deciding
that they have accomplished what they set out to do, and feeling no
need to continue bagging peaks.
Another reason may be geography. The Maine peaks are substantially farther from the population centers of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire than are the White Mountain (or Vermont) ones.
- The drop from the NE Fours to the NE 100 Highest is probably due to a combination of peakbagging fatigue and the difficulties of bushwhacking.
From the winter numbers I conclude:
- Obviously far fewer people complete the NH Fours in winter than
in the other three seasons. A very large part of the reason is
simply that fewer people hike in winter. In addition,
completing the list is much harder in winter than in summer.
A reasonably fit summer hiker should have little difficulty with any of the accessible peaks. The Bonds will probably require a backpack, but even an inexperienced backpacker, going with more experienced people, should be able to do them. Owlshead is usually a very long day, but given the ease of most of the trail a doable one. Isolation is also a long day, but again it should not be a problem.
In winter things are very different. Backpacking in winter is far more challenging than in summer. Many find Owlshead, and maybe Isolation and Carrigain, too long for comfortable daytrips. Beyond that is the challenge of the above treeline peaks, many of which require multiple attempts before success.
- In winter the Maine mountains can seem even more distant and
threatening than in summer. Three of them are in Baxter State park,
where camping far from the road is required (most groups ski in,
pulling their gear on sleds). Since two of the peaks (the Baxter
and Hamlin peaks of Katahdin) are at one end of the park, and the
third (North Brother) is at the other end, two trips are required
as a minimum. But those who have succeeded in completing the NH
Fours in winter are a hardy lot. The net result is that a slightly
higher proportion of hikers continue on to do the NE Fours in
winter than in the other seasons.
- I find it hard to believe that over half of those finishing the NE Fours in winter continue to do all the 100 Highest. On the other hand, after Baxter in winter I suppose that nothing can appear really daunting!
Below are the cumulative numbers for the various FTFC (and other) lists, which were started at very different dates, so they are not useful for valid comparisons (but are interesting for their own sakes). I have also added the numbers for the ADK 46rs and the Northeast 111 from their sites, no numbers are available on the Catskill site but the numbers were posted by John Graham on the VFTT Q&A board. That thread discusses why such a large proportion of those who have done the Catskill peaks in summer also do them in winter.
|White Mountain 4000 Footers||7102||271|
|New England 4000 Footers||1866||97|
|New England 100 Highest||523||64|
|ADK Forty Sixers||4934||234|
For those who want more numbers, I am including a decade by decade breakdown of the numbers of completers:
|Decade||ADK all seasons||ADK winter||AMC NH all seasons||AMC NH winter||AMC NE all seasons||AMC NE winter||100 Highest all seasons||100 Highest winter|
Far fewer people have completed the unofficial lists and, given their unofficial status, I am not aware of any good numbers.