Peakbagging in the Northeast began in the Adirondacks, with Robert and George Marshall and their guide, Herbert Clark. The brothers started climbing in 1916, when Robert was 16 and George 13 years old. At some stage they decided to climb all the peaks above 4,000 feet, and came up with a list of 46 peaks. Only about half of the peaks had trails, and some had probably never been climbed before. They finished their quest in 1925. Gradually other Adirondack hikers started on that quest, and an Adirondack Forty-Sixers Club, (separate from the Adirondack Mountain Club) came into existence.
The criterion used by the Marshall brothers and Herb Clark was that each peak be at least 0.75 miles distant from the nearest higher summit, or that it rise at least 300 vertical feet on all sides. More recent surveys have shown that several of these peaks do not reach 4,000 feet, but the original list is still the one used by the Adirondack 46rs.
In 1957 the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) established a Four Thousand Footers Committee (FTFC) that drew up a list of the 4,000 footer peaks in the White Mountains (NH). The criterion used by the AMC FTFC to define a "peak" is that it must rise 200 feet above the low point of its connecting ridge with a higher neighbor. There are many "peaks" which reach 4,000 feet but do not qualify because of this criterion, they include Clay, Little Haystack, Guyot amongst others.
The FTFC now recognizes three official lists of peaks: the White Mountain 4,000 Footers, the New England 4,000 Footers and the New England Hundred Highest Peaks. The lists are periodically revised to reflect the information on the most current maps.
In addition, Winter awards are given to those who climb all peaks of a list during calendar winter. Obviously far fewer people complete the lists in winter than in the other seasons. Look at the numbers of hikers completing each list to see!
The awards are given out at a meeting usually held in mid-April, in 2002 it will be held (details) at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham, NH (near Exeter) on April 20th.