Marhofn 38 - May 1999

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Bagging in the USA

There aren't really any rules in Marilyn bagging - you make your own. The few guidelines given in RHB still stand, e.g. landing on a summit from the air isn't really playing the game. Obviously unnatural features such as masts and buildings on top of hills can be ignored (most folk seem happy to ignore the Hensbarrow Beacon spoil tips, but there's some good easy scrambling to be had on them ... and a sea view). Contrast this flexible approach with the rules for bagging the highpoints (HP) of the 3142 counties of the United States (reproduced here with permission from the author). Marilyn baggers might recognise some of the moral dilemmas at issue here.

The rules for claiming county high points:

Promulgated by Fred Lobdell

1. Pillar claiming

If there is a definite high point, some part of your body should be placed on the highest point.

2. Access issues - private, military, prisons, atomic tests etc

If access is restricted or denied, that's tough: you don't get to claim the high point. If the (former?) HP is under a house or other structure, the natural surface has almost undoubtedly been excavated for a basement, and thus no longer exists. In these cases, the highest natural area near the structure would be good enough.

3. Summit fences around towers

If the ground inside the fence is about as high as that outside it, then walking around the fence is good enough. If, however, the ground inside the fence is significantly higher than that outside (say more than about a foot higher), then you need to figure out a way to get inside, by crawling under, over, or through. (Use your own judgment in the case of prisons, insane asylums, and military firing ranges.)

4. Multi areas

If it is not known which is the higher, then all should be visited.

5. How close must one get on flat terrain

One should make a "good-faith effort" to get to the "true" HP. When you are in a large, flat area that is inside the highest contour, you should wander around and stand on all the areas that appear to be slightly higher.

6. Pre bagging (before a county/province/etc is created)

I'm opposed, but willing to entertain counter-arguments. My feeling is that we should wait until the political entity is in legal existence before we can do and claim the HP.

7. HP mined away, or naturally diminished

The next higher HP becomes the HP, and should be visited even if the prior HP had previously been climbed.

8. Man made HP - towers - landfills - Indian mounds - etc

They don't count, and need not be visited.

9. Drive over HPs - do I need to step out of the car ?

Yes. Foot-dragging is permitted if you're being shot at. Otherwise, just like baseball's balk rule, you have to make a full stop of at least one second's duration.

10. Machine aids - snow mobile, parachute, chopper, etc

There are those who maintain that any way you get to the top of the mountain, even if dropped off by helicopter, is legitimate. We are recognizing the achievement of "getting there", not the method or distance/elevation gained. If this becomes a real problem (highly doubtful) we can re-think this.

12. Climbed highest summit, not highest point in county

If you don't climb the highest point, you can not claim the county.

Open issues

7A. Former counties legislated out of existence

8A. Strip mines and gravel pits all over big natural HP area

11. List errors and later fixes: Higher ground found, or more areas that tie the HP are found

13. Changing unvegetated sand dunes/Mississippi river mud hills

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