Amazing Places

Climb More Mountains With These Peak Bagging To-Do Lists

Lists are great. They give you direction and keep you motivated to cross things off, and for new hikers and mountain climbers, they can be one of the most exciting parts of climbing mountains. Whether it's because they're the highest peaks in a specific region, because they add up to a specific elevation goal, are all part of a single speech, or they're just someone's favorites, collecting mountains into a single to-do list and climbing them one by one (commonly known as "peak bagging") is one of the best ways to get familiar with a new area, learn about new peaks, and climb lots of spectacular mountains. For everyone from the new hiker to the mountain professional, here are some of the best peak bagging checklists to start ticking away at.

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Adirondack 46ers

The Adirondack 46 is one of the earliest peak-baggers' to-do lists. Although they may not be super tall compared to other ranges on the continent, the 46 peaks in New York's Adirondack Mountains, which reach an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,200 meters), are some of the most classic hikes anywhere. Trails range from short jaunts up wide, marked trails to hard-to-follow herd paths cutting their way through the dense Northeast woods, making it one of the best lists for new hikers to start small and work their way up to more difficult adventures.

Everest By The Bay

Not everyone has massive mountains nearby, but if you live around the San Francisco area, this list will give you the opportunity to climb Mount Everest ... sort of. Individually, none of the nine peaks on this checklist climb much higher than 3,800 feet (1,150 meters), but when you add up the amount of climbing you'll to do hike each one individually, you'll have hiked more than 32,000 feet (9,750 meters) — well over Mount Everest's 29,029 feet (8,848 meters).

Arizona 20-20 Challenge

The home of both 12,000-foot (3,650-meter) tall peaks and 7,000-foot (2,100-meter) deep canyons, Arizona hikers have a lot of options when it comes to going up or down, and the Arizona 20-20 list pays homage to that. To finish this checklist, hikers will have to climb not only the state's 20 tallest peaks but also head to the bottom of its 20 lowest points. On a clear day, from the top of Humphreys Peak — the state's tallest — you'll get a view all the way to one of the state's lowest: the Colorado River in the depths of the Grand Canyon. You'll have to head to both extremes to finish this challenge.

Colorado 14ers

Another classic of peak bagging, the Colorado 14ers are a test for hikers of all abilities. The 53-summit-long list has its share of relatively easy hikes, but for every single mountain, you'll have to contend with the rarified air at 14,000 feet (4,250 meters). It won't stop most people but expect to be fatigued sooner, have some shortness of breath, or even experience some nausea or headaches if you're coming straight from a lower elevation.

MLK's "I Have a Dream" Peaks

Giving hikers a to-do list probably wasn't what Martin Luther King, Jr. had in mind when he gave his classic "I Have a Dream" speech, but it happened anyway. In one part of the speech, the civil rights hero rattles off a number of peaks and ranges from which he hopes to "let freedom ring," including mountains in New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. You'll need to be well-traveled to finish this one.


Every state has a highest point. Some are impressive, some less so. But of course, people try to bag them all. It's hard to call this one a list of 50 peaks, but the 50 points on it run the gamut in terms of height, technicality, hiking distance, and more. Most hikers willing to get around the country will be able to put a sizable dent in the list. Some peaks (like Florida's 345-foot/105-meter Briton Hill) require little more than a short stroll from the car.

On the other hand, many (like Alaska's 20,310-foot/6,190-meter Denali) will require advanced knowledge of glacier travel, high elevation, and extreme cold. How long does it take to climb a mountain in every state? Well, Oregonian Colin O'Brady just broke the record by finishing the list in a little more than 21 days — that's more than two states and peaks per day!

The Seven Summits

Perhaps the hardest peak bagging list of them all is also the most prestigious and sought after. The Seven Summits includes the highest peak in all seven continents and is a list that's only attempted by the most experienced mountaineers. With elevations ranging from 16,000 feet to 29,000 feet, the peaks themselves are all demanding objectives. Some require months-long expeditions, and completing the list requires climbers to travel to every corner of the world. Only a few hundred people have done all seven to become some of the ultimate peak baggers.

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Experience the drama of the ascent in the book "Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure" by Patricia Ellis Herr. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ryan Wichelns October 11, 2018

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