Here's a topic I've been thinking about for some time: at what point can you claim to have "The Freedom of the Hills" in New England? By that I mean at what point does one have the experience and technical expertise to tackle almost any objective in New England? What are the classic routes that one must complete in good style to claim that Freedom?
Obviously this is ridiculously subjective, but for me this thought exercise has always helped to focus my efforts on my own shortcomings as an outdoorsman, and to foster the greatest growth potential.
There are no "rules" to this exercise - in fact, it should be a rather personal reflection. The only suggestion I'll make is to refrain from, "I have done X, Y, and Z, and therefore I'm so much more hardcore than you." Let's refrain from spraying and see where this goes. I'm sure there are objectives I haven't considered in New England, so maybe this will spark some new trip ideas. Here is my list, in no particular order:
1. Winter presi-traverse as a backpack (i.e. no waiting for a single perfect weather day and running across - which is also a great accomplishment, but to me does not reflect the degree of challenge inherent with the equivalent multi-day backpack).
2. Summiting Washington via any of the ice routes in Huntington Ravine, having lead at least one pitch.
3. Whitney G or Moby Grape on Cannon Cliff, having lead at least one pitch.
4. Baxter Peak and the Knife's Edge in Winter.
5. Any loop that requires 5 days or more in Winter, such as a rich Pemi Loop. By this I mean one must show they have a winter system capable of keeping them comfortable for at least 5 days. It's not about mileage necessarily, but about managing moisture and food.
I feel that anyone who has completed this short list can call themselves a Mountaineer, at least by New England standards. Even though it's a short list, each of these requires a substantial amount of preparation, likely over a period of years. I suppose this is a bucket list of sorts. Anyone else have other thoughts or additions?