The Finest Peaks

Prominence and other Mountain Measures

by Adam Helman



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 9/20/2005

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.25x10.75
Page Count : 300
ISBN : 9781412059954
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 1
ISBN : 9781412236645

About the Book

This book challenges the precedent that a mountain's worth scales with height. It is a rational synthesis of new concepts that compel one to reassess the popular "heightist mindset". The concept of prominence, loosely defined as a mountain's vertical relief, is a stiff competitor to summit height for assessing a mountain's stature and relative worth for innumerable purposes.

The community of prominence theoreticians, list builders, and climbers has reached critical mass - suggesting publication of a book dedicated exclusively to prominence.

Revolutions are not overnight. The heightist mindset has minimally a 100 year head start. Eventually the climbing community will embrace prominence. For the mountaineer a prominence-based peak list provides fresh goals guaranteed to satisfy. A prominence-based peak list, regardless of geographic region, incorporates the most awe inspiring and diverse mountains.

Chapter I introduces prominence, being defined and contrasted with altitude as peak list generator. Chapters II and III concern peak list production. Chapter IV reviews the history of prominence, including a compendium of prominence list builders and their lists. Chapter V is about prominence oriented peakbaggers and their accomplishments. Chapter VI entails prominence-derived mountain measures - submarine prominence, inverse prominence, proportional prominence, and dominance. Chapter VII concerns the advanced, prominence-derived concepts of parentage, divide trees, lineage cells, and more. Chapter VIII concerns alternative, objective mountain measures: isolation measure; peakedness and prominence density; and height / steepness combination measures - drop measure, cliff measure, spire measure, and ruggedness measure. Spire measure quantifies a mountain's subjective impressiveness due to great angularity. Chapter IX is a search for the largest prominence unclimbed mountain - grand goal of a future, summit-discovering expedition.

Appendices A to G cover various subtopics, the glossary defines over 300 terms. 48 pages of illustrations are included, with full-color versions on-line at

A beautiful, hardcover edition with color illustrations is available, and is highly recommended by book reviewers. ?

E-mail the author for pricing and purchase information.

About the Author

Adam Helman lives in San Diego, California and pursues climbing all year-round. Although he earned a doctorate in physical chemistry, for the past dozen years he has been a software designer and scientific programmer.

Upset with the growing lack of opportunities in Corporate America for creative, mathematically inclined people, Adam changed focus and struck out to use his considerable analytical skills, programming experience, and love of mountains by writing a book that leverages all three areas.

Instrumental in this regard was his best friend Edward Earl, also of San Diego. Edward has been a prominence expert for several years, and, with a similar educational background, wrote scientific software for the automated computation of prominence. They often climb together, be it in the Southern California desert or some peak in the Andes of South America.

Adam is a county highpointer, with the goal of reaching the highest summits of counties in the western United States. He is webmaster for the county highpointer club, a site that he designed and implemented in 2000. Since then, the county highpointing hobby has seen an explosion in activity - with nearly 300 members throughout the United States.

When time and finances permit Adam organizes and participates in climbing expeditions to Latin America, his knowledge of Spanish being helpful. He is most pleased with an ascent of Nevado Illimani, Bolivia's most famous mountain, in May 2001 with Bob Packard (21,201 feet).

Adam Helman maintains a set of personal web pages. There is a mountaineering page with links to several climbing-oriented trip reports.

A detailed review of Adam's educational background and occupational history is available.