480,000 Peaks Bagged
Four Thousand Footer Club membership surpasses 10,000
By Rob Burbank
AMC Outdoors, October 2012
Don’t save Owl’s Head for last.
That’s oft-heard advice from peak-bagging devotees who have joined the ranks of AMC’s White Mountain Four Thousand Footer Club. And that’s because attaining the 4,025-foot peak requires a hike of more than 9 miles, including a steep slide scramble, only to find no view at the top.
It’s not that Owl’s Head isn’t a pleasant place to visit, but it doesn’t deliver the bang for the buck that more scenic peaks on the Four Thousand Footer Club list provide. And there are many.
Membership in the club is conferred upon those who have climbed the 48 4,000-foot-plus peaks recognized by AMC on its official list (found on pages 633 through 634 in the 29th edition of AMC’s White Mountain Guide). Some peaks surpass 4,000 feet in elevation, but aren’t on the list because official criteria require that “each peak must rise 200 ft. above the low point of its connecting ridge with a higher neighbor,” as noted in the guide. The club reached a milestone earlier this year, when membership climbed past 10,000. The club was established by AMC in 1957 as a way to inspire hikers to visit some of the region’s less-traveled trails and more out-of-the way mountains—environs other than the heavily trod Presidential Range and Franconia Ridge (though many of those peaks are on the list).
Members receive an embroidered patch and a scroll acknowledging their peak-bagging prowess.
Four Thousand Footer Club Chair and Corresponding Secretary Eric Savage noted that the volunteer committee processes more than 300 applications for club membership per year, and another 100 or so from climbers seeking membership in AMC’s other peak-bagging clubs—the New England Four Thousand Footer Club (which adds five peaks in Vermont and 14 in Maine) and the New England Hundred Highest.
“In addition to passing 10,000 for the White Mountain club, we also passed 2,500 for the New England 4s and 750 for the New England Hundred Highest,” Savage reported in an e-mail message.
Recognition is also provided for hikers who complete their peak-bagging lists in the winter months.
While some seek to complete a chosen list quickly, for many more, the pursuit carries on across multiple years.
A $10 application fee covers the cost of the scroll, patch, and postage. Savage noted that the committee recently donated $50,000 for trail work and related stewardship, representing generous donations provided by Four Thousand Footer Club members, over and above the initial fee, over the past six years. These funds helped support construction of a new bridge along the Appalachian Trail and placement of new bog bridges on trails in the White Mountains.
The White Mountain Four Thousand Footer Club also counts several canine members. As noted on the committee’s website, “Dogs may be recognized for completing the White Mountain 4000-footers (non-winter) as a companion, assuming of course that they (or their human representative) pay the application fee.”