As part of his mission to develop and promote high point bagging in Ireland, Kieron Gribbon has taken this informal leisure activity and transformed it into a brand new sport for all.
The Irish hillwalking community has been informally involved in high point “bagging” for a good few years now. Since the 1990s, County High Point bagging has proven itself to be a particularly popular personal challenge among hillwalkers in Ireland. Its growth in popularity has been most significant since 2012 following the publication of Ireland's County High Points: A Walking Guide by Kieron Gribbon (founder of High Point Ireland). This book was the first serious initiative designed specifically to promote and develop County High Point bagging in Ireland. Soon after the guidebook was published, having recognised the makings of a new sport, Kieron set out to develop the informal activity of high point bagging into a recognised sport.
The next stage in his strategy was to publish a comprehensive list of Ireland’s major geographical high points. This was published on 5th December 2015 as the book The Gribbons: A Complete List of Ireland’s Major Geographical High Points and on the High Point Ireland website.
The book was published to serve as a permanent record of the Gribbon list’s publication and as an initiative in High Point Ireland’s wider campaign to raise money for Mountain Rescue Ireland. The High Point Ireland website was set up initially to function as an information resource for hillwalkers and geography enthusiasts, and also as a platform to raise money for Mountain Rescue Ireland.
The next stage of the strategy was to introduce interesting new initiatives on the website in order to build a community of high point baggers. The initiatives introduced so far have included quarterly photo competitions, awards and certificates, and the Million Metre Challenge.
In April 2017, Kieron Gribbon invented the words “Highpointeering” and “Highpointeer” in preparation for the launch of his new sport. On 18th May 2017, the sport of Highpointeering was born and these newly-invented words appeared throughout the High Point Ireland website.
The introduction of the High Point Ireland Leagues as the first-ever all-Ireland Highpointeering competitions officially marked the arrival of the new sport. Participants enter these competitions as individuals in the hope of becoming one of the “Elite Ten” highest point-scorers representing their home county and province. In the year-long Counties League, the three counties with the highest combined “Elite Ten” point-scores will receive Gold (1st), Silver (2nd) and Bronze (3rd) awards. Similarly, in the year-long Provinces League, the three provinces with the highest combined “Elite Ten” point-scores will also receive Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. In addition, the Highpointeer of the Year awards competition Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be received by the three highest point-scoring individuals. In all of these open competitions, men and women, young and old, can compete with and against each other on an equal footing. At High Point Ireland, we are totally committed to an “equality for all” approach to participation in the sport of Highpointeering.
As a result of having introduced all these initiatives, Highpointeering has established itself as a true sport with High Point Ireland as its natural all-Ireland governing body. Ireland is the first region in the world where High Point bagging has been developed in this way to successfully make the transition from being an informal leisure activity to becoming a sport in which individuals and sub-regions can compete with and against each other. Ireland’s convenient size, geography and topography have made this transition relatively straightforward compared to how it might be in other parts of the world.
Going forward, the next stage in developing the sport of Highpointeering in Ireland is for it to become a Recognised Sport and for High Point Ireland to become its National Governing Body. As the first region of the world to embrace Highpointeering as a competitive sport, Ireland has great potential to be recognised as a key player in its global development. In the future, other regions may even create their own Highpointeering governing bodies based on the High Point Ireland model.
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