Let’s say you really want to know the name, elevation, and location of every peak in the state along the Continental Divide, from 14,270-foot Grays Peak to an unnamed 9,296-foot summit north of Kremmling. Or all the mountains in Colorado that require fifth-class climbing. Or the high point of each of Colorado’s 64 counties. If categorizing and tracking peak ascents is your thing, you need Lists of John, the compulsive climber’s ultimate online resource.
John Kirk, 33, created this remarkable website in 2005, building upon his personal online database. Kirk, who lives in Arvada, moved to Colorado in 2001 and has climbed all the 14ers and county high points. Curious about the Lists of John, we sent him a few questions:
Mojo: What was your first Colorado peak, and what’s on your personal tick list?
Kirk: My first was Blanca Peak (14,345 feet). I completed the 14ers in 2004, and the 64 county high points in 2005. I’ve been chipping away at the 13ers list and have it down to a couple hundred now. I’ve completed all summits in Park County (231 peaks; first ever to complete this list), Gilpin County (22 peaks), Clear Creek County (64 peaks), and Lake County (47 peaks). Boulder County and Chaffee County will probably be completed next. I’d like to complete the highest 1,000 list—I’m over halfway.
Mojo: What motivated you to create Lists of John?
Kirk: I had a website built in 2001 that covered my personal accomplishments at the time, mostly 14ers, 13ers, prominence, and county high points. I decided to build something that was more of a multi-user tool in 2005, mostly because of the lack of such functionality at the time available via other websites, and other sites were charging fees despite lacking this kind of functionality.
Colorado’s complete peak list was put in the database in the spring of 2006. It has come a long way, mostly through user feedback and suggestions, and the thousands of hours I’ve put into it.
Mojo: What’s been the most popular list on the site?
Kirk: The Colorado 13ers list probably has attracted the most members—people want something to do after the 14ers that has some similarities. The most unique thing about Lists of John is the complete listing of all peaks using a 300-foot prominence criterion. This has spawned a number of interesting lists, but the most frequent application is the county summits lists. It gives people an impetus to explore their home county or expand beyond, in a divide and conquer type of fashion.
Mojo: What’s the toughest list for people to complete?
Kirk: The most difficult “popular” list is probably the Colorado 12ers list, for a few reasons: more technical and dangerous summits, remoteness of many peaks, and sheer number (676), combined with the distances across the state one has to travel to collect them all.
The most difficult list I can imagine? Climb all 4,300-plus ranked summits in Colorado! The closest to completing this is Mike Garratt, currently at 3,012.