"A Tale of Four Summits"
Excerpts from Professional Surveyor Magazine, April, 1998
By Robert Nelson (reprinted without permission)
For his final project, he arranged, coordinated and pulled-off a hell of a feat by using GPS stations to measure the four tallest peaks in California.
I'm only going to print his conclusion, because it brings the traditional elevations of these four mountains into question, and makes an interesting discovery.
The full arcticle is in the archives of Professional Surveyor Magazine.
What Did We Achieve? What we achieved is far more important than what we proved. We set original monuments on three of the four highest mountains in California. The GPS work achieved by these crews ascertained the elevations of California's highest peaks and showed that the mountains have been misranked for years in their relative elevations. Mt. Whitney has been recognized as the highest point in the continental United States for more than 100 years. However, the ranks of the next three highest mountains in California have been disputed, with Mt. Williamson, White Mountain and North Palisade generally accepted as the next three in elevation, respectively. For the past 50 years, there has been some speculation that White Mountain might be higher than Mt. Whitney. White Mountain, although it has the same published elevation as North Palisade, 14,242 feet, had never been accurately surveyed for elevation. Previously, only Mt. Whitney had been accurately surveyed for elevation. Although this project was originally designed to observe low-lying satellites, using high precision GPS technology, positions were achieved that placed the four summits to within inches of their absolute positions. According to the results, the four highest peaks, in relative order, are Mt. Whitney (14,500 feet), Mt. Williamson (14,382.3 feet), North Palisade (14,255.9 feet) and White Mountain (14,243.2 feet), reversing the order of the third- and fourth-highest peaks.
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