[prominence] Mountain measures
- (Dave M)
Here's something to measure how impressive a peak is: simply
the greatest vertical relief that one can actually *see*.
E.g. Rainier is visible from Puget Sound, so it gets the
full 14410 feet. But Elbert is visible from at best maybe 8500 feet,
so it gets around 6000 feet. N Cascade peaks get most of their height
since the valleys are so low.
I'm not seriously suggesting this as an optimal mtn measure,
but it would be a cool number to know! But wicked hard to calculate,
I think. (Edward?) For example, is Mount Everest visible from
under 1000m elevation? I don't know.
Watch that Ctrl+Enter in Outlook Express. It sends the message! I was
trying to use Shift+Enter to type in a new line character...
You know I'm gonna like that one because of the North Cascades having so
much local relief. This would make a 3000' cliff the same as a 3000' tower
if the vantage points are similar relative to the "base" of the subject.
I was thinking that there might already be a method of determining the
"base" of a mountain. One may want to deterine a base line that surrounds
the mountain. That base line could then be used for many calculations. But
your idea ignores base and instead focuses on the maximum relief visible
from any vantage point. I do think that because of the line of sight
problem it would probably be very difficult to calculate this from topo
data, and CERTAINLY it would be difficult by hand! It's very interesting
I suppose another problem with this might be that it is sometimes possible
to see the summit of a surrounded peak from a long way off when you're much
lower than you would be when right next to the mountain. Because relief
quickly seems less impressive as you move away from a mountain, the mountain
wouldn't "feel" as impressive even if you're able to see greater relief than
when you're up close. An example of this is the south approach to Gannett
Peak in the Wind Rivers (Titcomb Basin and Dinwoody Pass approach). There
are a number of places where you can see the summit of Gannett from some
distance, when you're at a lower elevation than when you're up close. But
the summit is only barely visible above closer ridges, so even though the
relief is greater, the distance and the hiddenness conspire to make it less
impressive. This shot sorta illustrates this. The summit is visible on the
snowy ridge just right of the tall trees on the left side of this photo.
Here the peak is visible from near it's base to the summit, as seen from
To my eye this is a much more impressive sight, yet the visible relief is
way less than in the first photo.
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