How specifically do you define a pass?

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

Post by mjirving » August 17th, 2021, 4:45 pm

Agreed. The original question was about the number of passes on the PCT as if it were an achievement (like number of peaks). When I hike the PCT (I’m about 70% done) I always mark and look forward to the passes I cross from valley to valley going south as they are meaningful and typically amazing views. The low ones that create passes for east/west passage are sort of meaningless. So technically, I totally agree with you but emotionally not so much. “Yay I got to the bottom of a hill!” 😉

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texasbb
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by texasbb » August 17th, 2021, 5:21 pm

mjirving wrote:
August 17th, 2021, 4:45 pm
So technically, I totally agree with you but emotionally not so much. “Yay I got to the bottom of a hill!” 😉
Well, I would counter that "specifically [how] you define a pass" is very different from determining whether you "climbed" one. Just like helicoptering onto a mountain peak doesn't change its prominence. :D

FWIW, I too like crossing passes valley to valley. It's more satisfying than bagging peaks to me.

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mjirving
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by mjirving » August 17th, 2021, 5:36 pm

True true! While I enjoy peaks, there is something about exiting a valley and entering a new one that is pretty amazing when you’ve walked all the way through it.

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SWriverstone
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by SWriverstone » August 18th, 2021, 11:37 am

Great discussion everyone—thanks! I agree with what everyone is saying, particularly that "major" passes tend to be:
• more-or-less perpendicular to the trail
• valley-to-valley
• involve a challenging climb up to a high point with a view, then back down

And I think (just a guess) that most passes that meet those criteria are named (like mjirving said, the high Sierra passes such as Forester, Glen, Muir, etc. and North Cascade passes like White, Red, Harts, etc.)

While McKenzie and Santiam are certainly considered "major passes" in Oregon, they are very different than those other passes above...

Scott

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BigBear
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by BigBear » August 21st, 2021, 6:15 pm

I recall a hike that started on Windy Pass and headed north toward Canada and the map noted we would be crossing several passes...however, they weren't passes to PCT hikers, they were passes to miners who crossed the ridge from one valley to the next.

A pass is merely the highest point that you crest a ridgeline to reach the other side.

The problem in counting the number of passes a PCT-thru-hiker may encounter would depend on whether you are counting (a) the number of times the hiker crests a ridgeline or (b) the number of times the trail crosses other routes where the lay of the PCT path is at their pass....or (c) both situations.

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retired jerry
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by retired jerry » August 21st, 2021, 6:35 pm

what I lay awake thinking about is

when you crest the ridgeline

is it a pass if it goes uphill to the right and downhill to the left? (or vice versa)

or is it a pass only if it goes uphill both right and left? (that is, a saddle)

I usually think of it as a pass in the former case, but I think that's cheating, it's really only a pass in the latter case

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mjirving
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by mjirving » August 21st, 2021, 6:44 pm

I think of a pass fundamentally as a saddle…the lowest point to cross from one valley to the next…this the spirit of the name, it’s the “pass” or the passway to get from one to the other, which all things being equal (which they never are) would be the lowest point. But maybe it’s the lowest reasonably passable point? Using an extreme example, the lowest point might be a cliff on both sides, but a few hundred feet up the crest is an easily passable point to cross. I’d think the latter would be the “pass”. It’s probably something like lowest reasonable point to cross on foot from one valley to the next??

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mjirving
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by mjirving » August 21st, 2021, 6:47 pm

I just looked in Wikipedia and it uses the key word “navigable” which makes sense and is in line with my assumption above.

Aimless
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by Aimless » August 21st, 2021, 7:42 pm

mjirving wrote:
August 21st, 2021, 6:47 pm
I just looked in Wikipedia and it uses the key word “navigable” which makes sense and is in line with my assumption above.
I used the word "accessible" in my original reply, but I conceded "navigable" is somewhat better:

"Defining a pass is relatively simple. It is the lowest accessible point in crossing between two valleys."

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mjirving
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Re: How specifically do you define a pass?

Post by mjirving » August 21st, 2021, 10:23 pm

Sorry…I probably channeled that in my response without remembering. The thread must be about done if we’ve circled back to the beginning. Haha.

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