By: Mark Adrian
As mentioned in the last issue, there is (or was) some controversy about Spectre's name origin and its elevation. Inset is a 15-minute map of Spectre Point. You'll notice an open 4400' contour at Spectre Point's location (south of and just between the "O" and "M"). By convention, it's routine to extrapolate an open contour's elevation by adding to it one-half of the map's contour resolution, in this case, it's 40' (one half of 80). This would explain the existing 4440'+ elevation as noted in the DPS guide book. Keep in mind that this is extrapolated and not exact, in a technical sense. However, based on field inspection, it has been "decided" that Spectre is "the" range highpoint of the Coxcomb Mountains, the nearest competitor being BM Aqua at 4416' Another puzzling aspect is the label "Spectre" near point 3720 , nearly a mile due west of 4440+, And, it's still odd how the 7.5' map has apparently lost contoures. Furthermore, by close inspection of the 15' map (can we "trust" the 7.5's in this area?), Dyadic is also an open contour at 4400' making it a highpoint contender. Now, to add more to the narrative, John Vitz mentions When the 7.5' maps came out for the California desert, someone (Bill T. Russell, I believe) redid the peaks list with the new altitudes. He also decided that any summit that did not have a specified map name would be called a "Point". That is how Spectre Peak became Spectre Point and also how all the other "points" came into existence. So, besides the academics, what does all this mean? Well, if you're in to range highpoints, do all three summits (Aqua BM, Dyadic and Spectre Point). Beyond that, go out and enjoy the climb(s)!
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