That was my reaction until I finally got a handle on it.  

- We want to measure the prominence of Mt. X
- Imagine that the sea level rose, so that the top of Mt. X is precisely at
sea level, 
- As we lower the sea level, an island appears, with Mt. X in it.
- Keep lowering the sea level more, and the island gets bigger.
- But, summit of Mt. X is still the highest point on the island
- If we keep lowering the sea level, at some point the island will become
connected to land with a higher peak than Mt. X. 
- We stop now, and measure the height of Mt. X above this pretend "sea

That, my friend, is the prominence of Mt. X.

David Merfeld 

--Denis Bogan wrote--
I have to agree with Marc-I on this.  Every time I encounter the term
prominence I have to go back to the definition and re-read it 2 or 3 times
before (I think) I understand it.  If you can't ski it all in one run it's a
crock as far as I'm concerned.  

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