08 March 2011

Mountain Names

Red Mountain Pass
Red Mountain Pass in Autumn

The Lizard recently teased me about my mountain snowflake project. I'm naming my snowflakes after mountains this year and next year. (Which, yes, means I am optimistic I will come up with at least 100 more patterns...) Knowing how I've fallen head over heels and goo-goo-eyed over superwash wool sock yarn, he asked how many Sheep Mountain snowflakes I plan to make.

Because, you see, Colorado has more than a handful of mountains by that name. And hills. And mesas. And lakes, etc., etc., etc., ...

Tater HeapI began researching potential names for March snowflakes because there's a fun holiday that does not lend itself to white. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Sheep isn't the only popular and overused name in Colorado. (Yes, this means Colorado naming pundits were not necessarily in line when blessings of creativity were being handed out. However, there are exceptions, such as Tater Heap, shown at right.)

We have 34 mountains with Bald in the name!!! How do mappers keep them all straight?!? Get this: we even have three Bald Knobs!!! There are 25 more mountains with the name Baldy. There's a Colony Baldy, a Hamilton Baldy, a Heyden Baldy, a Long Branch Baldy, a Short Creek Baldy, a Baldy Alto, a Baldy Chato and a Baldy Cinco. Not to be omitted, we have 3 Big Baldies, 4 Middle Baldies, 8 Little Baldies, 4 Old Baldies, 3 South Baldies, 2 West Baldies, 2 North Baldies and a Wulsten Baldy. Yes, you read that right. We have no East Baldy and no Young Baldy. I suspect hairless conspiracy and youthful eastern discrimination.

Not sure if this is related, but we also have been endowed with 15 Flat Top mountains and 7 Flattop mountains, peaks, buttes and mesas. We also have a Flat Top Wilderness.

Music  MountainThere are 25 Black mountains, hills and mesas and yet only one Blanca (white). (As an interesting side note, where I grew up in New Mexico, there is a Sierra Blanca or White Mountain, and its nickname is Baldy. I should go through my old film negatives and submit one of my photos of the mountain, because the one Wiki is using really doesn't show the beauty!) Nevertheless, there are 12 White mountains, buttes, caps, hills and domes in Colorado. Speaking of colors, there are 21 Green mountains, a Greenie and a Greenback. We also have 44 Red mountains, mesas, pinnacles and peaks. I would make another crack about originality, but much of the rock here is red, and Colorado was named for the red silt in its rivers.

Bears could be considered a symbol of the state. We have high schools with bear mascots. We have bear trails, bear lakes and 16 mountains with Bear in the name. My favorite of the bruin monikers goes to a foothills greenway called Lair o' the Bear. What a cool name!

While we're on the subject of favorites, one high on The Lizard's list is Lone Cone. Another very cool and poetic name. And where else would you expect to find a restaurant named the Happy Belly Deli?

Dunsinane and PrecipiceMany animals are popular when it comes to naming landmarks. Colorado has 21 Eagle mountains, a Lone Eagle, a Bald Eagle (which I did not include in the Balds above) and a Spread Eagle. There are 19 Horse mountains and mesas. There is a Sleepy Cat Peak. Not necessarily animals, but there are more than 28 Twins, be they mountains, peaks, hills, lakes, rivers or other geographical feature.

There are 10 Castles and Castle Rocks and 16 Haystacks, a couple of which are pretty darned tall, which, in my opinion, means they are not aptly named. There are 18 Middle mountains, mesas and hills and 26 Round mountains, hills and peaks, and of course, 1 Round Mound. There are 14 Lookouts. We Coloradans have a real sweet tooth, too: 27 Sugar Loaf and Sugarloaf mountains, two Cinnamon mountains and a delectable Cinnamon Pass, an appetite perhaps partially accounting for so many Rounds. We love to eat: 18 Table mountains, rocks and tops. Yes, we have a couple of Chair mountains and a Handkerchief Mountain to go with those Tables.

What's in a name???In spite of all this amusing but pointless trivia fun, Sheep as a mountain name does win, hands down, as long as we're not talking head coverings or the color red. Colorado has 35 Sheep mountains, not including the gut-busting, funny, hilarious, wonder-why-they-named-it-that Sheep Nose Mountain. So Lizard, I guess I'll make 35 Sheep Mountain Snowflakes. Will that do?!?

I would be remiss in composing this post of landscape names without tipping you off about a couple of not-so-common names. There are two Bellyache mountains in Colorado. One of them made this special list. I think I've met the folks this mountain was named named after. Seriously. Oh, and The Lizard wants to make sure I tell you about the "classic climb" of the Pope's Nose, as well. Yes, skilled rock climbers ascend the Pope's Nose deep in the Weminuche Wilderness and brag about it. You heard it right! The Pope's Nose!

I've never seen the Pope's Nose in person. So here's a picture of another rock nose I found while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Complete with nose hairs...
Gem Lake Rock Nose


  1. You do have your work cut out for you but I have no doubt that you will create the most amazing snowflakes for these mountain names. Looking forward to seeing what comes from Bellyache or Pope's Nose. Interestng and fun read and impressed at your knowledge of all these. Have a great day.

  2. Woah. What a lot of mountains! Very interesting names for them all, too.

  3. I love your blog! I've awarded you the One Lovely Blog Award. Please go to http://tomorrowsmemorieskjlb.blogspot.com/2011/03/one-lovely-blog-award.html to accept and see more details.

  4. We always joke that if you find an absolutely gorgeous place, a lake or a peak, you should give it a horrendous name. My favorite lakes ever were named "Deadman's Lake" and "Dead Horse Lake" - and we never saw another backpacker at either one. I've spotted a "Mosquito Lake" on the map, and I'm thinking that the name is a trick to keep us all away. I need to go visit!

    Maybe that's why Sheep Mountain is such a popular name!

    I loved this post!

  5. Those are some amazing names, although my favs are probably Bellyache and Pope's Nose. That nose needs a tissue!

  6. Love the Pope's Nose! Ha! Ha!


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