Glossary of Lists

List Inclusion Criteria:

All Features of the type Summit, Ridge, and Pillar with more than 0' rise are listed when an official Board on Geographic Names name exists or when unnamed features possess at least 300' possible rise. There are the following exceptions for inclusion of unnamed summits with less than 300' possible rise:
1) When lists involve highest or most prominent points within political or other boundaries
2) When enduring unofficial names exist


Elevation is listed in feet.
With exception to terrain that has been analyzed using LiDAR data (see LiDAR section detailed below), the following applies:
Elevation is interpolated if spot elevations are not given. Spot elevations are derived from the most current USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle. Often newer versions do not include a spot elevation and the spot elevation is retained from an older version. Elevations may also come from larger scale maps when spot elevations do not exist on the 7.5 minute quadrangle but do on larger scale maps. Elevation is converted from meter maps to feet rounded down to the nearest foot. Why rounded down? 12,999.51' isn't an elevation that one can say belongs to a list of elevations 13,000' or higher - it is literally lower than 13,000'. Data from Digital Elevation Models (DEM) are not used because that data is most often a projection of contour lines (not the product of an actual measurement), and is often prone to error, sometimes by several hundred feet of elevation. For example, this map shows a saddle that is consistent with flat, shadowless satellite imagery, whereas the DEM model in this area shows a false peak with 280' interpolated prominence. Other examples (toggle to topo view or satellite):
Summit is inverted 700'?
900' tall ridge missing completely
In short, DEM data is consumable for imprecise purposes, is not "real", and should not be used for determining precise elevations as is done here.
Other DEM validity issues:

DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
DEM vs. reality
160+ more examples of DEM errors
Altimeter/GPS measurements are not used given the variability and subjectivity involved with deriving those figures.


Far more accurate than hand-drawn maps and traditional photogrammetry, LiDAR supersedes all other sources of elevation information when available and processed. See Wikipedia, USGS. Summit and saddle elevations listed which leverage LiDAR are noted along with spot or interpolated map elevations on each peak's profile page. As deciphering point return classification in snow/tree/rock/brushy terrain can be somewhat subjective, findings are open to re-interpretation. Analysts vetted to submit results for this site have made their best effort to select the most likely saddle and summit elevations available from the LiDAR tiles at that point in time. While 100.0000% accuracy to the exact foot is probably not realistic, the margin for error in LiDAR results vs. topographic maps is reduced 40 times over assuming 1 foot LiDAR error margins vs. 40 ft contour intervals, assuming map contours are correct. Map contours have been found to be highly erroneous in many cases.


Names are derived from the Board of Geographic Names and this source is considered "official." Names appear in quotes when not officially recognized by the Board of Geographic Names. Unofficial names need to meet these criteria for inclusion. When a name is not known to exist either official or unofficial, the elevation is used in place of the name. It should be noted that cases exist where the Board of Geographic Names data contains errors pertaining to location, spelling or feature type, and any errors we are aware of are corrected on this site.

Unofficial Names:

Unofficial names must be derived from one of the following sources:
  • Summit name appears in print (such as guidebooks with an isbn#)
  • Summit name appears on park/natural area map or trail signage
  • Summit name appears on official club/organization peak list
  • Summit name is visible on maps from reputable sources other than the USGS
To submit an unofficially named peak for inclusion, email with lat/lon, online linkage or other source of the name.

Variant Names:

Additional names, such as variant official names listed by USGS, or additional unofficial names meeting Unofficial Name criteria. Names appear in quotes when not officially recognized by the Board of Geographic Names.

Peaks Rank:

Rank describes the peak's height status relative to other peaks within a state or other category, where a minumum rise is required for a summit to qualify as "ranked." For example, a rank of 1 is the highest in the category, 2 is second highest. At listsofjohn, ranked peaks require 300' minimum rise. "S" designation for rank means the summit has the potential of qualifying as a ranked peak based on interpolation or LiDAR error range (generally treated as one vertical foot). "S" is for "Soft Rank." Peaks with less than 300' possible rise without official names are not listed unless additional inclusion criteria are met or historical maps required their inclusion. Summits are ranked in order of descending elevation, then descending rise, then descending isolation.

Prominence Rank:

Prominence Rank describes the peak's rise a.k.a. "prominence" relative to other peaks within a state or other category, where a minumum rise is required for a summit to qualify as "ranked." For example, a rank of 1 is the most prominent in the category, 2 is second most prominent. At listsofjohn, ranked peaks require 300' minimum rise.


Saddle is the low point of the highest connecting ridge (highest ridge at its lowest point) to an elevation greater than the peak's maximum elevation. Elevation is listed in feet, interpolated if spot elevations are not given or LiDAR data has not been analzyed. Elevation is converted from meter maps to feet rounded down to the nearest foot. In cases of multiple saddle candidates not on the same connecting ridge, the saddle is determined by shortest distance to potential line parents. Obviously DEM and altimeter measurements are not used given the variability and subjectivity involved with deriving and choosing those figures.


County or counties a summit belongs to. When multiple counties are in consideration (when a peak resides very near or on a county border), the peak will belong to multiple counties only if the summit location indicates the summit is literally on the county line or when a spot elevation is not available and the middle of the highest closed contour straddles the county line.


Name of the USGS 7.5' quadrangle (or other smallest scale available). 7.5 Minute Quadrangle boundaries are defined using the NAD27 coordinate system in eighths of a degree.


Location of summit in decimal degrees. Specific locations presented here are original works and property of and may not be replicated or republished without exclusive permission from The coordinate system displayed used and displayed is NAD83/WGS84. When spot elevations are not available and more than one closed contour is a candidate for the summit location (meaning these closed contours do not themselves already possess enough independent rise to be considered separate ranked summits), field observation takes precedent when available, followed by size of the closed contour. When a spot elevation is provided where there are competing contours, it will be used if the spot elevation is higher than the interpolated value of another contour.


Rise is a measure of summit height minus saddle height. This is synonymous with the term "prominence." Saddle and summit elevations are often interpolated.

Line Parent:

Line Parent is the first higher ranked peak encountered if following the crest of the highest connecting ridge away from the saddle of the peak in question. The term "line" refers to lineage, where if one were to follow a peak's highest connecting ridge to the next ranked peak and repeat this process, there is a "line" or "ancestry" in a hierarchical sense.

Proximate Parent:

Proximate Parent is akin to "Nearest Higher Neighbor" and is simply the closest higher ranked peak in terms of distance. There is no consideration as to the peak's belonging from a prominence perspective as in a mountain range with successively higher line parents .


Isolation is the measure of distance from the summit of the peak in question to the Proximate Parent.

YDS Class:

YDS (Yosemite Decimal System) class is a measure of the difficulty of a peak in terms of climbing skills required, without regard to duration of the climb or the duration of the difficulty. Here, class listed indicates the easiest ascent possible for said peak. Class 1 is walking on a trail or road. Class 2 is off-trail and may require hands for balance. Class 3 involves use of hands for upward movement. Class 4 often involves exposure and most people would use a rope if one is available. Class 5.0 - 5.5 is "easy climbing" where no special skills are required in terms of the climbing moves. A more detailed description of "mid" and "upper" fifth class can be found elsewhere online.


Steepness is an average of the angles in all directions downward from the summit at a fixed distance of 100 meters using National Elevation dataset. These calculations are run by Tim Worth - see


Interpolation is a calculation of the mean of the maximum and minumum possible elevations within a contour interval. For example a summit on a 40' contour map with a highest contour of 8400' has elevation possibilities between 8400 and 8440' (8440 would be the next contour if one were present). The mean of these is 8420'. Sometimes field observation will reveal a higher summit candidate than maps indicate with spot elevations (when identification of the location of spot elevation is possible and can be differentiated). In these cases, interpolation may be performed to average the spot elevation and the next higher contour rather than between contours.

Field Observation:

Often information is not available from maps or maps are error-prone. Observations "in-the-flesh" sometimes reveal things not ascertainable otherwise. Use of handlevels or other instruments can aid in determining which of competing contours is truly the highest and in some cases contradict maps altogether.

Ascent of a Peak:

Arriving at the highest natural ground is required to claim an ascent of a peak. This means if a 10ft pillar of stone sits atop an otherwise flat and expansive summit, one must get atop this stone. Some feel it is sufficient to "touch the top" with a hand, while others require standing or sitting on the highest rock. Use your own judgment, but at a minimum your body should touch the highest natural surface.

A peak should be counted only once per calendar date. Going over the same peak twice in a day does not constitute a new ascent of that peak, as one could revisit the same peak's summit a virtually unlimited number of times in a day unless a minimum gain is required. Minimum gain requirements are not used for a variety of reasons including subjectivity/error and the fact that many peaks do not have sufficient rise to allow a minimum gain to be possible.