The Lists, The Application Process
Q. Where can I get official information about the AMC Four Thousand Footer Club?
A. If you haven't found what you're looking for in the introductory letter that comes with the application or on this website, you may email our Corresponding Secretary.
The AMC Four Thousand Footer Club may also be reached by regular mail at:
AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee
P.O. Box 444
Exeter, NH 03833-0444
If you are expecting a reply (e.g. the list(s)), please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. Note that if you just request "the list" you will only get the White Mountain 4000-Footer list. If you want the New England 4000-Footer or New England 100 Highest lists, you should ask for them explicitly.
The packet sent to those who request the lists contains information about the club, including the application procedure, a brief discussion of the rules, and an application form, which consists of a list of the peaks with spaces in which you record the date climbed and any comments, such as companions.
If your inquiry concerns the website specifically, please contact the webmaster.
Q. Where can I find the lists?
A. The lists are available on this website. Please see "The Lists We Recognize" page or the "How to Apply" page.
Q. How much does it cost to join?
A. An application fee of $10 covers the cost of the certificate, one patch and postage.
Q. How do I get an application?
A. The applications are available on the "How to Apply" page. You may also request applications by sending a SASE to the Exeter address:
AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee
P.O. Box 444
Exeter, NH 03833-0444
Note that if you just request "the list" or "an application" you will only get the White Mountain 4000-Footer list. If you want the New England 4000-Footer or Hundred Highest lists, please ask for them explicitly.
The packet that is sent contains information about the club, including the application procedure, a brief discussion of the rules and an application form, which consists of a list of the peaks with spaces in which you record the date climbed and any comments, such as companions.
Q. How do I apply for membership?
A. When you have finished a list (or as you finish) fill out the application form. Precise dates of climbs are preferred but not required, as many people decide to start recording their climbs long after they have started climbing, but please provide the best estimate (e.g. July 1987). A precise date for the last climb is very desirable, and please specfically indicate the last peak that you climbed (we keep track of this). The Committee also requires an "essay" concerning your 4000-footer experience. Traditionally, this was an account of the last climb, or some other notable peak, but the important thing is to have something beyond just the dates and companions. We have never refused membership for lack of an essay, but it is an important source of feedback for us.
The Committee is comprised of volunteers, active in many other areas of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Processing of your application may take as much as a month. Since the Annual Meeting (a.k.a. Awards Night and Dinner) is usually held in April, it is a good idea for those who have finished the list over the summer or fall to send their application in before the end of the year. Those doing the winter peaks will obviously send their applications in later, but try to send it as soon as you have finished.
Deadline: Those who have finished a list over the summer or fall should send their application in before the end of the year. We have tried to avoid setting a strict deadline for applications. In the past, when there were fewer stragglers - and fewer applications overall - we could always get them processed in time for the Annual Meeting. Procrastination by non-winter finishers, especially those waiting until the last two weeks before the Annual Meeting, makes this harder to do. After December 31, priority will be given to winter applications and other recent finishers. While we still do our best to process every application that comes in, we can't guarantee that non-winter submissions after January 31 will be done in time for the Annual Meeting. Late applicants also leave very little time for us to clear up any questions that might arise, or, get the dinner information and reservation forms to them in time to make their plans for the Annual Meeting night.
Application Fee: An application fee of $10 covers the cost of the certificate, one patch and postage. Additional patches may be purchased for $4 each. If you pay more than the required dues, the balance goes into a fund that contributes to trail maintenance or related projects, so we strongly encourage you to do so.
Application Address: Send completed applications to the Exeter address. (Note: Older printed applications may have AMC's Boston address listed, or, a Concord address listed. Applications sent to Boston or Concord will be forwarded to Exeter but this will delay their processing.)
Q. How can I check the status of my application?
A. From September to April, processing usually takes a week or two. Processing does not usually begin again until July and may happen less frequently until September. If it has been much longer than a month, you can email the secretary. You can request confirmation that we have received the application by including a stamped postcard (preferred) or SASE - but be sure to write "Acknowledgement Requested" on the outer envelope. (If things are going quickly enough, you might even receive your acceptance letter as your acknowledgement!)
Q. I mailed an application or request for information a long time ago--why haven't I heard back from anyone?
A. After all the effort that goes into the Annual Meeting in April, the committee needs some time to regroup and get things ready for another year (and would also like to take some time to enjoy the season). For this and other technical reasons, application processing usually does not resume until July. As soon as the new documents are ready, we begin responding to information and application requests (and readying the new files for the website). There are fewer submissions at this time of year and often we will wait until we have more than a couple to process. (This is more efficient for us though admittedly it doesn't seem that way if you're the one waiting for a response.) Once everything is in place, applications should be processed within a month (often much sooner, especially as next April rolls around), but if it's been longer than that since you sent something in, please let us know. Also, be aware that anything sent to Boston (or Concord) will have to be forwarded and thus may take even longer.
The Annual Meeting, The Awards, The Dinner
Q. When is the Annual Meeting/Awards Night and Dinner?
A. Traditionally in April. Those applying for awards are notified by mail and it is listed in the AMC Outdoors magazine. It may also be announced on various hiking bulletin boards, but check here for the official information.
Q. How do I sign up for the Annual Meeting/Awards Night and Dinner?
A. Send the reservation form to the address indicated on the form itself (not the Exeter address). Once the details are set, we send the form with the acceptance letters. For really early applicants or anyone else they are available online starting in January. Or, you may send a request for information with a SASE to the Exeter address.
The Mountains, The Rules
Q. Do all the 4000-footers have trails to them?
A. All of the 4000-footers are reached by official trails with the exception of Owl's Head*, which is reached via a "herd path" that is described in the AMC White Mountain Guide, and Redington, whose herd path requires greater skill and/or a good description. (It is not described in the AMC Maine Mountain Guide.)
*More Owl's Head below.
Q. Why are some 4000-foot peaks not on the list?
A. To qualify for the list, a peak must rise 200 feet above any ridge connecting it to a higher neighbor. As a result, several notable peaks (including Clay, Guyot, and the south peak of Moosilauke) are not included on the lists, despite their height. Determinations are made according to the most current USGS topographical maps and peaks have been added to or deleted from the lists as newer maps became available. (By contrast, the Adirondack 46ers, which were developed using different criteria, do not change in response to updated surveys).
Q. Have the lists changed recently?
A. As mentioned above, the lists are occasionally revised to reflect changes in the survey information. However, the last change was made in 1998, and we hope that the new quads are accurate enough that further changes will be unnecessary. The following is a list of the changes made in 1998:
- For the WM 4000, the "D" peak of Wildcat replaced the "E" peak.
- For the NE 4000, two peaks in Maine were recognized as 4000-footers: Redington and Spaulding.
- For the NE 100 Highest, three peaks were removed, and replaced by three new peaks.
Removed: Middle Abraham, Mahoosuc Arm and the North Peak of the Bigelow Horns, all in Maine.
Added: The Bulge, in New Hampshire, Cupsuptic Snow, and the North Peak of Kennebago Divide, both in Maine. Note that there are now two peaks in Maine named "Snow" on the 100 Highest list.
Q. Is there a new summit on Owl's Head?
A. In 2005, it came to our attention that a "new" summit had been determined on Owl's Head about 0.2 miles north of the "traditional" summit. Several people have confirmed with various measuring devices that this new summit is higher than the traditional summit where the herd path ended - and occasionally a sign could be found - and is probably the actual 4025ft. point marked on the topo quad.
Upon consideration, it appears that this might actually be a rediscovery. The first round of 4000-footer climbers ascended to a false peak of Owl's Head but no one realized it until Miriam Underhill discovered a higher point on the ridge in the early 1960's. The best guess at this point is that the true summit was lost again sometime in the late 1960's (insert your own joke here) and we have all been ascending to the original (incorrect) summit. Now, it seems that Miriam's summit has been rediscovered (or at least more widely publicized).
The next question of course is "Do I have to go back?" The answer is no. Just as the early ascenders were grandfathered the last time this happened, previous finishers will again be grandfathered (though no doubt there will be many of us who feel compelled to go back). It is also the feeling of the Committee that we do not want to require aspirants to the White Mountain Four Thousand Footer Club to go completely off trail to look for the high point (that's what the New England Hundred Highest is for). The new edition of the Guide does mention the new summit, but for now, we are recognizing either summit. The new summit is seeing enough traffic to create a reasonable herd path so it is quite likely that we will begin requiring applicants to reach the new summit, but this is probably still a few years off, and there will be a grace period (typically three years) in which those who are in the middle of working on the list can count either summit.
Q. What are the rules for climbing the peaks?
A. The basic rule is very simple--you must climb (on foot!) to and from the summit of each peak on the list. In winter, skis and snowshoes are both allowed. (The Committee takes no official position on the use of sleds or "swiss bobs.")
For peaks with trails starting at maintained roads the rule is simple--drive to the trailhead then walk. (Note that you are not allowed to use the auto roads on Mts Washington, Mansfield or Equinox). For peaks in areas with rough logging roads you may drive as far as you dare with a normal car (that includes four wheel drive), but ATVs are not allowed. See below for the rules on using mountain bicycles.
You are allowed to count any number of peaks on a single trip and do not necessarily have to end up at the trailhead from which you started (many peaks are commonly done as a traverse, e.g. Bonds, Presidentials).
You must do the whole climb in one contiguous trip (which may include an overnight stay in a tent, shelter, or hut). For example, you cannot count climbing Monroe from the summit of Washington after a trip up the Cog Railway because you climbed Washington on a past hike, or, hike up Cannon and take the tramway down then come back later, take the tramway up and hike down.
Q. Can I use a mountain bike while bagging a peak?
A. The popularity of mountain bikes made it necessary to come up with some sort of policy. Please remember that this is a club for hikers; not that we object to trail bikes per se, but we want to preserve the tradition of climbing on foot, not on bikes. In winter, we have absolutely forbidden the use of snowmobiles, even when a road is passable to ordinary cars in summer. However, a similar policy on trail bikes seems a bit excessive. Therefore we suggest that we all attempt to live by the following standard:
It is acceptable to use bikes on logging roads that are:
- not part of an officially maintained trail, and
- legally open to the general public for car/truck travel on the day of the trip, and
- are fairly easily passable to an average four-wheel drive vehicle (not an ATV) without "heroic measures" such as winches. (If you think a jeep might not make it, then please walk.)
In particular, note that using a bike on the Lincoln Woods/Wilderness Trail on the way to Owl's Head or the Bonds is not acceptable - and it violates Wilderness regulations if you ride past the crossing of Franconia brook.
The spirit of the policy is that you can ride a bike instead of traveling by car, but not instead of hiking. We hope that everyone can be reasonable about self-enforcing this standard so we don't have to come up with more excruciating technicalities.
Q. Is there a time limit? Do I have to do all the peaks in one year, or one winter?
A. There is no time limit. The only requirement is that you have done the list that is current when you apply. (If a peak is added or changed, you will have to make sure you get it before submitting an application; but that is pretty rare. There have only been three changes in almost 60 years.)
For the winter list, you don’t have to do them in the same winter. Any combination of winters will do, as long as each trip satisfies the official definition of winter. (Scroll down for the definition, along with links to tables for the winter solstices and spring equinoxes.)
Some have added to the challenge by doing a particular list in one year, or in one winter, but this is not a requirement of the Club. In fact, for most of the people doing these single-season rounds, it is not their first time. Enjoy the list at your own pace, and we’ll look forward to seeing your application, no matter how long it takes.
Q. Where do I get a winter application?
A. There is no special form for the winter application. All you need to do is use a regular application and write the word "WINTER" in large, preferably blue, letters at the top of the page.
Please be aware of the strict criteria for a winter trip and if you hike on one of the marginal days, please note the start or finish time (as needed) of your trip on your application.
Q. What determines a winter ascent?
A. It is not simply a matter of dates on your household calendar (e.g. Dec 21 to March 20). The criteria established by Miriam Underhill, the inventor of the Winter Four Thousand Footer game, is more exact. Trips must begin after the hour and minute of the beginning of winter (winter solstice), and end before the hour and minute of the end of winter (spring equinox). In the US edition of her book, Give Me the Hills, Miriam Underhill is even more specific, as she writes:
"This game was an offshoot, of course, of that very popular game of the Appalachian Mountain Club, climbing the four-thousanders, which was set in motion, and such vigorous and enthusiastic motion, in 1958. Our game —"ours" because we were the first to play it—followed right along. As the initiators we set the rules, which concerned the definition of "winter." Snow on the ground and other namby-pamby criteria definitely did not count. "Winter" was to be measured exclusively by the calendar. In 1960, for instance, winter began at 3:27 PM on Wednesday, December 21, too late to get up to Crag Camp by daylight."
Notice the use of the word "game." Games have rules, which may well be arbitrary, but if you play a game you should follow the rules. If you do not like the rules, you are free to define your own game, but must clearly differentiate it from the "official" game. Also note the last sentence of the quotation above. The entire trip has to start (and end) during winter. She did not allow the trip up to Crag Camp to start one day before winter, with the final ascent taking place on the first day of winter.
The official times of the equinoxes and solstices are available on the US Naval Observatory website. Note that the times are given in Universal Time (UT). To convert solstice times to EST subtract five hours; to convert equinox times to EDT subtract four hours. The following table (using EST/EDT) is extracted from that site:
Note: Before 2007, Daylight Savings Time began after winter was over, so equinox times for 2006 and prior have to be converted to EST (UT - 5 hours) just like the solstice times.
Click here for a table of winter solstice and spring equinox start times from 2007 through 2015.
Click here for a table of solstice and equinox start times from 2009 through 2019.
In 2009, the first day of winter was December 21 and the time of the solstice left less than 4 hours of daylight in which to complete a trip, so the first full hikable winter day in 2009-2010 was December 22. As opposed to 2012, in which December 21 was almost a full hiking day.
Similarly, in most years, March 19 is the last full hikable day of winter, as winter ends too early on the 20th to allow a full day of hiking (2011 being an exception).
If you hike on one of the marginal days, please note the start or finish time (as needed) of your trip on your application. Otherwise, we will have to contact you for clarification.
Q. Where can I find information on the trail-less peaks on the New England 100 Highest list?
A. A pamphlet describing routes to the trailless peaks on the New England Hundred Highest list is available from the Four Thousand Footer Committee for $3. A set of black-and-white USGS maps covering these peaks (printed from Maptech CDs) is an additional $2. Color Maps: A set of color maps is now available; the additional cost for these is $9 instead of $2 - i.e. $12 for the routes and color maps.
You can request routes and/or maps from:
AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee
Attn: NE 100 Information
P.O. Box 444
Exeter, NH 03833-0444
Q. Can my dog become a member of the Club?
A. 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. Because Baxter State Park does not allow dogs, they cannot be eligible for either of the New England lists. Dogs are not eligible for winter list recognition. (There is one dog recipient that predated this policy decision.)
If you do hike with your dog, please be courteous in your interactions with other hikers (who may not appreciate dogs as much as you do), be aware that a dog's needs and abilities may be very different from yours and always consider the dog's safety and comfort as well as your own.
Although dogs are not allowed in the auditorium where we present the awards (school policy unless they are service dogs), we arrange a special presentation for canine finishers just outside the main entrance.
Q. Does the Four Thousand Footer Committee assign numbers to its members?
A. We have historically categorized finishers by time of finishing rather than time of application, so it is not possible for us to give exact numbers (and they would change). The Club has recently adopted a numbering scheme. Roughly at the end of each year, we will assign numbers to that year's applicants in the order in which they finished (as best as we can determine). The first 10,000 members will be assigned numbers roughly in order of finishing (again, as best we can determine). As noted above, the assigned number will not be an exact representation of one's position overall, but will be a reasonable estimate.
Q. How does one apply for a second patch (e.g. for a second completion of the list)?
A. The Club does not officially recognize repeat completions of the lists, except for one winter completion of each list. If you simply want another patch (or patches), you can send a request, along with $4 per patch, to the Exeter address.
Q. How can I get a replacement patch or extra patches?
A. If you are already a member of the Club(s) for which you are requesting patches, you can send a request, along with $4 per patch, to the Exeter address. You can order additional patches when you apply for a club (you will receive one as part of the membership package). Please add $4 to the application fee for each additional patch.
Q. How many people have finished the lists?
A. As of April 14, 2012, 10,098 people (and 138 dogs) have reported finishing the White Mountain 4000 Footers, but only 550 have done them all in winter. And 2,557 people have reported completion of the New England 4000 Footers (148 in winter). For the New England 100 Highest, the numbers are 761 and 94 respectively. Click here for a summary of finishers by year. (Note—year 2015 number may be incomplete.)