How specifically do you define a pass?

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by Charley » August 22nd, 2021, 11:50 am

God, I love this forum. Very interesting points about the relative meanings of transverse and axial passes.

I think, for wider culture of the Pacific crest region of the US at large, many of the most important "passes" are transverse because they connect the interior west to the coastal west. These are important to PCT thru-hikers because they're roadheads with re-supply opportunity. Many of the axial ones are important because they are long climbs and descents.

I think Aimless hit the bullseye:
Aimless wrote:
August 16th, 2021, 1:50 pm
Defining a pass is relatively simple. It is the lowest accessible point in crossing between two valleys. The problems are introduced with the modifiers "major" and to a lesser extent "mountain". These introduce elements that are quite subjective and can only be 'accurately' defined by introducing wholly arbitrary criteria.
I just hiked the PCT from Stevens Pass to Pass Creek last week. The route winds in and out along the ridgecrest for miles and miles along the way. There were dozens of "passes." Sometimes going up/down, sometimes down/up, down/down, and up/up. It's all kind of arbitrary!

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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by BigBear » August 22nd, 2021, 2:49 pm

My lungs and calves don't find passes "arbitrary." There's more oxygen in the air on the downhill than the uphill and the calves don't burn as much on the downhill (but the quads have something to say about the downhill). So if you need some help in determining if it's a pass or not, just listen to your body, it will speak loud and clear.

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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by SWriverstone » September 14th, 2021, 11:39 am

Hi Everyone—just a quick update that our GIS and trail information specialists (at PCTA) did some more data-gathering and came up with a number of passes for the PCT!

We tabulated all named passes, gaps and similar features that you visit while traversing the PCT—the final number was 119. :lol: We'll publish them in the near future.

Meanwhile, for anyone not familiar with it, check out our interactive PCT map: ... 8ae63216b3

It shows the PCT centerline (the most accurate and up-to-date out there) with mile markers and lots of useful layers like land ownership, NF ranger districts, tribal lands, and layers showing current/past wildfire activity and air quality levels.


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