DENALI (/dᵻˈnɑːli/ ) (also known as MOUNT MCKINLEY, its former
official name) is the highest mountain peak in
North America , with a
summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level . With a
topographic prominence of 20,156 feet (6,144 m) and a topographic
isolation of 4,629 miles (7,450 km),
Denali is the third most
prominent and third most isolated peak after
Mount Everest and
Aconcagua . Located in the
Alaska Range in the interior of the U.S.
Denali is the centerpiece of
Denali National Park
and Preserve .
Koyukon people who inhabit the area around the mountain have
referred to the peak as "Denali" for centuries. In 1896, a gold
prospector named it "Mount McKinley" in support of then-presidential
William McKinley ; that name was the official name
recognized by the
United States government from 1917 until 2015. In
August 2015, following the 1975 lead of the state of Alaska, the U.S.
Department of the Interior announced the change of the official name
of the mountain to Denali. Prior to this, most Alaskans already
referred to the mountain as Denali.
James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing
Denali, which was unsuccessful. In 1906,
Frederick Cook claimed the
first ascent , which was later proven to be false. The first
verifiable ascent to Denali's summit was achieved on June 7, 1913, by
Hudson Stuck ,
Harry Karstens ,
Walter Harper , and Robert
Tatum , who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn
pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and
easiest route, and therefore the most popular currently in use.
On September 2, 2015, the
U.S. Geological Survey announced that the
mountain is 20,310 feet (6,190 m) high, not 20,320 feet (6,194 m), as
measured in 1952 using photogrammetry .
* 1 Geology and features
* 1.1 Layout of the mountain
* 2 Naming
* 3 History
* 3.1 Climbing history
* 3.2 Timeline
* 4 Weather station
* 4.1 Historical record
* 5 Subpeaks and nearby mountains
* 6 Taxonomic honors
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 10 External links
GEOLOGY AND FEATURES
Denali is a granitic pluton lifted by tectonic pressure from the
subduction of the
Pacific Plate beneath the
North American Plate ; at
the same time, the sedimentary material above and around the mountain
was stripped away by erosion . The forces that lifted
cause many deep earthquakes in
Alaska and the
Aleutian Islands . The
Pacific Plate is seismically active beneath Denali, a tectonic region
that is known as the "McKinley cluster".
Denali has a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea
level , making it the highest peak in
North America and the
northernmost mountain above 6,000 meters elevation in the world.
Measured from base to peak at some 18,000 ft (5,500 m), it is among
the largest mountains situated entirely above sea level (although some
Asian mountains i.e.
Nanga Parbat are even
larger in this regard ).
Denali rises from a sloping plain with
elevations from 1,000 to 3,000 ft (300 to 910 m), for a base-to-peak
height of 17,000 to 19,000 ft (5,000 to 6,000 m). By comparison,
Mount Everest rises from the
Tibetan Plateau at a much higher base
elevation. Base elevations for Everest range from 13,800 ft (4,200 m)
on the south side to 17,100 ft (5,200 m) on the Tibetan Plateau, for a
base-to-peak height in the range of 12,000 to 15,300 ft (3,700 to
4,700 m). Denali's base-to-peak height is little more than half the
33,500 ft (10,200 m) of the volcano
Mauna Kea , which lies mostly
LAYOUT OF THE MOUNTAIN
Denali has two significant summits: the South
Summit is the higher
one, while the North
Summit has an elevation of 19,470 ft (5,934 m)
and a prominence of approximately 1,270 ft (387 m). The North Summit
is sometimes counted as a separate peak (see e.g., fourteener ) and
sometimes not; it is rarely climbed, except by those doing routes on
the north side of the massif .
Five large glaciers flow off the slopes of the mountain. The Peters
Glacier lies on the northwest side of the massif, while the Muldrow
Glacier falls from its northeast slopes. Just to the east of the
Muldrow, and abutting the eastern side of the massif, is the Traleika
Glacier . The
Ruth Glacier lies to the southeast of the mountain, and
Kahiltna Glacier leads up to the southwest side of the mountain.
With a length of 44 mi (71 km), the
Kahiltna Glacier is the longest
glacier in the
Denali–Mount McKinley naming dispute
The Koyukon Athabaskans who inhabit the area around the mountain have
for centuries referred to the peak as _Dinale_ or _Denali_. The name
is based on a Koyukon word for "high" or "tall". During the Russian
Alaska , the common name for the mountain was _Bolshaya
Gora_ (Russian : Большая Гора, _bolshaya_ = Russian for
_big_; _gora_ = Russian for _mountain_), which is the Russian
translation of _Denali_. It was briefly called Densmore's
the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, an Alaskan
prospector who was the first European to reach the base of the
In 1896, a gold prospector named it _McKinley_ as political support
for then-presidential candidate
William McKinley , who became
president the following year. The
United States formally recognized
the name Mount McKinley after President Wilson signed the Mount
McKinley National Park Act of February 26, 1917. In 1965, Lyndon B.
Johnson declared the north and south peaks of the mountain the
"Churchill Peaks", in honor of British statesman
Winston Churchill .
Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain
to _Denali_ in 1975, which was how it is called locally. However, a
request in 1975 from the
Alaska state legislature to the United States
Board on Geographic Names to do the same at the federal level was
blocked by Ohio congressman
Ralph Regula , whose district included
McKinley's hometown of Canton .
On August 30, 2015, just ahead of a presidential visit to Alaska, the
Barack Obama administration announced the name _Denali_ would be
restored in line with the
Alaska Geographic Board's designation.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Sally Jewell issued the order changing
the name to
Denali on August 28, 2015, effective immediately. Jewell
said the change had been "a long time coming". The renaming of the
mountain received praise from Alaska's senior U.S. senator, Lisa
Murkowski , who had previously introduced legislation to accomplish
the name change, but it drew criticism from several Ohio politicians,
such as Governor
John Kasich , U.S. Senator
Rob Portman , U.S. House
John Boehner , and Representative
Bob Gibbs , who described
Obama's action as "constitutional overreach" because he said an act of
Congress is required to rename the mountain; The _
News _ reported that the Secretary of the Interior has authority under
federal law to change geographic names when the Board of Geographic
Names does not act on a naming request within a "reasonable" period of
time. Jewell told the _
Alaska Dispatch News_ that "I think any of us
would think that 40 years is an unreasonable amount of time."
Indigenous names for
Denali can be found in seven different Alaskan
languages. The names fall into two categories. To the south of the
Alaska Range in the Dena\'ina and Ahtna languages the mountain is
known by names that are translated as "big mountain". To the north of
Alaska Range in the Lower Tanana , Koyukon , Upper
Holikachuk , and Deg Xinag languages the mountain is known by names
that are translated as "the high one", "the tall one" (Koyukon, Lower
and Middle Tanana, Upper Kuskokwim, Deg Xinag, and Holikachuk), or
"big mountain" (Ahtna and Dena'ina). Asked about the importance of
the mountain and its name, Will Mayo, former president of the Tanana
Chiefs Conference , an organization that represents 42 Athabaskan
tribes in the Alaskan interior, said “It’s not one homogeneous
belief structure around the mountain, but we all agree that we’re
all deeply gratified by the acknowledgment of the importance of Denali
to Alaska’s people."
The following table lists the Alaskan Athabascan names for Denali.
Spelling in the
local practical alphabet Spelling in a
standardized alphabet IPA TRANSCRIPTION
'the tall one'
Dghelaay Ce'e, Deghilaay Ce'e
Dghelaay Ke'e, Deghilaay Ke'e
Upper Inlet Dena\'ina
Lower Inlet Dena\'ina
Hudson Stuck and
Harry Karstens , co-leaders of the first
successful summit of
Denali in 1913
The Koyukon Athabaskans , living in the Yukon , Tanana and Kuskokwim
basins, were the first Native Americans with access to the flanks of
the mountain. A British naval captain and explorer, George Vancouver
, is the first European on record to have sighted Denali, when he
noted "distant stupendous mountains" while surveying the Knik Arm of
Cook Inlet on May 6, 1794. The Russian explorer Lavrenty Zagoskin
explored the Tanana and
Kuskokwim rivers in 1843 and 1844, and was
likely the first European to sight the mountain from the other side.
William Dickey, a New Hampshire-born resident of
Seattle , Washington
who had been digging for gold in the sands of the
Susitna River ,
wrote, after his returning from Alaska, an account in the _New York
Sun _ that appeared on January 24, 1897. His report drew attention
with the sentence "We have no doubt that this peak is the highest in
North America, and estimate that it is over 20,000 feet (6,100 m)
high." Until then,
Mount Logan in Canada's
Yukon Territory was
believed to be the continent’s highest point. Though later praised
for his estimate, Dickey admitted that other prospector parties had
also guessed the mountain to be over 20,000 feet (6,100 m). The
reverse side of the
Denali National Park quarter
On November 5, 2012, the
United States Mint released a twenty-five
cent piece depicting
Denali National Park. It is the fifteenth of the
America the Beautiful Quarters series. The reverse features a Dall
sheep with the peak of
Denali in the background.
The first recorded attempt to climb
Denali was by Judge James
Wickersham in 1903, via the Peters Glacier and the North Face, now
known as the
Wickersham Wall . Because of the route's history of
avalanche danger, it was not successfully climbed until 1963.
Famed explorer Dr.
Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent of the
mountain in 1906. His claim was regarded with some suspicion from the
start, but was also widely believed. It was later proved false, with
some crucial evidence provided by
Bradford Washburn when he was
sketched on a lower peak. High camp (17,200 ft or 5,200 m) of the
West Buttress Route pioneered by
Bradford Washburn , photographed in
In 1910, four area locals – Tom Lloyd, Peter Anderson, Billy
Taylor, and Charles McGonagall – known as the Sourdough Expedition,
attempted to climb
Denali despite a lack of climbing experience. The
group spent approximately three months on the mountain. Their
purported summit ascent day included carrying a bag of doughnuts each,
a thermos of hot chocolate, and a 14-foot (4.2 m) spruce pole. Two of
them reached the North Summit, the lower of the two, and erected the
pole near the top. According to the group, the time they took to reach
the summit was a total of 18 hours. Until the first ascent in 1913,
their claims were disbelieved, in part due to false claims they had
climbed both summits.
In 1912, the Parker -Browne expedition nearly reached the summit,
turning back within just a few hundred yards of it due to harsh
weather. Hours after their ascent, the Great
Earthquake of 1912
shattered the glacier they had ascended.
The first ascent of the main summit of
Denali came on June 7, 1913,
by a party led by
Hudson Stuck and
Harry Karstens . The first man to
reach the summit was
Walter Harper , an
Alaska Native . Robert Tatum
also made the summit. Using the mountain's contemporary name, Tatum
later commented, "The view from the top of Mount McKinley is like
looking out the windows of Heaven!" They ascended the Muldrow Glacier
route pioneered by the earlier expeditions, which is still often
climbed today. Stuck confirmed, via binoculars, the presence of a
large pole near the North Summit; this report confirmed the Sourdough
ascent, and today it is widely believed that the Sourdoughs did
succeed on the North Summit. However, the pole was never seen before
or since, so there is still some doubt. Stuck also discovered that the
Parker-Browne party were only about 200 feet (61 m) of elevation short
of the true summit when they turned back.
The mountain is regularly climbed today. In 2003, around 58% of
climbers reached the top. But by 2003, the mountain had claimed the
lives of nearly 100 mountaineers over time. The vast majority of
climbers use the West Buttress Route, pioneered in 1951 by Bradford
Washburn , after an extensive aerial photographic analysis of the
mountain. Climbers typically take two to four weeks to ascend Denali.
It is one of the
Seven Summits ; summiting all of them is a challenge
Denali's West Buttress (lower left to upper right), August 2010
A three-dimensional representation of the mountain created with
* 1896–1902: Surveys by Robert Muldrow, George Eldridge, Alfred
* 1913: First ascent, by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter
Robert Tatum via the
Muldrow Glacier route.
* 1932: Second ascent, by
Alfred Lindley , Harry Liek, Grant
Pearson, Erling Strom. (Both peaks were climbed.) :320
Barbara Washburn becomes the first woman to reach the summit
while her husband
Bradford Washburn becomes the first person to summit
First ascent of the West Buttress Route, led by Bradford
First ascent of the very long South Buttress Route by George
Argus, Elton Thayer (died on descent), Morton Wood, and Les Viereck.
Deteriorating conditions behind the team pushed them to make the first
traverse of Denali. The Great Traleika Cirque, where they camped just
below the summit, was renamed Thayer Basin, in honor of the fallen
First ascent of the West Rib, now a popular, mildly
technical route to the summit.
First ascent of the Cassin Ridge, named for Riccardo Cassin
and the best-known technical route on the mountain. The first ascent
team members are: Riccardo Cassin, Luigi Airoldi, Luigi Alippi,
Giancarlo Canali, Romano Perego, and Annibale Zucchi.
South view from 27,000 feet (8,200 m)
* 1963: A team of six climbers (W. Blesser, P. Lev, R. Newcomb, A.
Read, J. Williamson, F. Wright) made the first ascent of the East
Buttress. The summit was attained via Thayer Basin and Karstens Ridge.
See AAJ 1964.
* 1963: Two teams make first ascents of two different routes on the
* 1967: First winter ascent, via the West Buttress, by Dave
Johnston, Art Davidson and
Ray Genet .
* 1967: Seven members of Joe Wilcox's twelve-man expedition perish,
while stranded for ten days near the summit, in what has been
described as the worst storm on record. Up to that time, this was the
third worst disaster in mountaineering history in terms of lives lost.
Before July 1967 only four men had ever perished on Denali.
* 1970: First solo ascent by
Naomi Uemura .
First ascent by an all-female team, led by Grace Hoeman and
the later famous American high altitude mountaineer Arlene Blum
together with Margaret Clark, Margaret Young, Faye Kerr and Dana Smith
* 1972: First descent on skis down the sheer southwest face, by
Sylvain Saudan , "Skier of the Impossible".
* 1976: First solo ascent of the Cassin Ridge by
Charlie Porter , a
climb "ahead of its time".
First ascent by dog team achieved by
Susan Butcher , Ray
Genet , Brian Okonek,
Joe Redington, Sr. , and Robert Stapleton.
* 1984: Uemura returns to make the first winter solo ascent, but
dies after summitting. Tono Križo, František Korl and Blažej Adam
from the Slovak Mountaineering Association climb a very direct route
to the summit, now known as the Slovak Route, on the south face of the
mountain, to the right of the Cassin Ridge.
* 1988: First successful winter solo ascent. Vern Tejas climbed the
West Buttress alone in February and March, summitted successfully, and
* 1997: First successful ascent up the West Fork of Traleika Glacier
up to Karstens Ridge beneath Browne Tower. This path was named the
"Butte Direct" by the two climbers Jim Wilson and Jim Blow.
* 2015: On June 24, a survey team led by Blaine Horner placed two
global positioning receivers on the summit to determine the precise
position and elevation of the summit. The summit snow depth was
measured at 15 ft (4.6 m). The
United States National Geodetic Survey
later determined the summit elevation to be 20,310 ft (6,190 metres).
The east side viewed from
Denali National Park and Preserve,
which surrounds the mountain
The Japan Alpine Club installed a meteorological station on a ridge
near the summit of
Denali at an altitude of 18,733 feet (5,710 m) in
1990. In 1998, this weather station was donated to the International
Arctic Research Center at the University of
Alaska Fairbanks . In
June 2002, a weather station was placed at the 19,000-foot (5,800 m)
level. This weather station was designed to transmit data in real-time
for use by the climbing public and the science community. Since its
establishment, annual upgrades to the equipment have been performed
with instrumentation custom built for the extreme weather and altitude
conditions. This weather station is the third-highest weather station
in the world.
The weather station recorded a temperature of −75.5 °F (−59.7
°C) on December 1, 2003. On the previous day of November 30, 2003, a
temperature of −74.4 °F (−59.1 °C) combined with a wind speed of
18.4 miles per hour (29.6 km/h) to produce a North American record
windchill of −118.1 °F (−83.4 °C).
Even in July, this weather station has recorded temperatures as low
as −22.9 °F (−30.5 °C) and windchills as low as −59.2 °F
The mountain is characterized by extremely cold weather. Temperatures
as low as −75.5 °F (−59.7 °C) and wind chills as low as −118.1
°F (−83.4 °C) have been recorded by an automated weather station
located at 18,733 feet (5,700 m). According to the National Park
Service , in 1932 the Liek-Lindley expedition recovered a
self-recording minimum thermometer left near Browne's Tower, at about
15,000 feet (4,600 m), on
Denali by the Stuck-Karstens party in 1913.
The spirit thermometer was calibrated down to −95 °F (−71 °C),
and the lowest recorded temperature was below that point. Harry J. Lek
took the thermometer back to Washington, D.C. where it was tested by
United States Weather Bureau and found to be accurate. The lowest
temperature that it had recorded was found to be approximately −100
°F (−73 °C). Another thermometer was placed at the 15,000 feet
(4,600 m) level by the U.S. Army Natick Laboratory, and was there from
1950 to 1969. The coldest temperature recorded during that period was
also −100 °F (−73 °C).
SUBPEAKS AND NEARBY MOUNTAINS
Denali, here shrouded in clouds, is large enough to create its
own localized weather
Besides the North
Summit mentioned above, other features on the
massif which are sometimes included as separate peaks are:
* South Buttress, 15,885 feet (4,842 m); mean prominence: 335 feet
* East Buttress high point, 14,730 feet (4,490 m); mean prominence:
380 feet (120 m)
* East Buttress, most topographically prominent point, 14,650 feet
(4,470 m); mean prominence: 600 feet (180 m)
* Browne Tower, 14,530 feet (4,430 m); mean prominence: 75 feet (23
Nearby peaks include:
* Mount Silverthrone
* Mount Hunter
* Mount Huntington
* The Moose\'s Tooth
* _Ceratozetella denaliensis _ (formerly _Cyrtozetes denaliensis_
Behan-Pelletier, 1985) is a species of moss mite in the family
Mycobatidae sv:Ceratozetella denaliensis
Magnoavipes denaliensis _ Fiorillo et al., 2011 (literally
“bird with large feet found in Denali”) is a _
ichnospecies of bird footprint from the Upper Cretaceous of
was a large heron-like bird (as larger than a sandhill crane ) with
three toes and toe pads. pt:
* _Cosberella denali _ (Fjellberg, 1985) is a springtail .
* _Proclossiana aphirape denali _ Klots, 1940 is a _
butterfly species of the
Heliconiinae subfamily of
* _Symplecta denali _ (Alexander, 1955) is a species of crane fly in
Limoniidae . sv:Symplecta denali
* _Tipula denali _ Alexander, 1969 is a species of crane fly in the
Tipulidae . sv:Tipula denali
Erigeron denalii _ A. Nelson, 1945 or
Denali fleabane is an
Erigeron _ fleabane species.
Papaver denalii _ Gjaerevoll 1963 is an _
Papaver _ species and
syn. of _
Papaver mcconnellii _
* _mckinleyensis_ or _mackinleyensis_
Erebia mackinleyensis _ (Gunder, 1932) or
Mt. McKinley alpine is
a butterfly species of the
Satyrinae subfamily of
Oeneis mackinleyensis _ Dos Passos 1965 or _Oeneis mckinleyensis
_ Dos Passos 1949 is a butterfly species of the
Satyrinae subfamily of
Nymphalidae (syn. of _
Oeneis bore _)
* _Uredo mckinleyensis _ Cummins 1952 or _Uredo mackinleyensis _
Cummins 1952 is a rust fungus species.
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* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Mark Newell; Blaine Horner (September 2, 2015).
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most Alaskans refer to Mount McKinley as Denali.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "
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Alaska Dispatch News_.
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Language Center at the University of
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“Shem Pete’s Alaska.” It doesn't mean "the great one," as is
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Ron Wyden (September 10, 2013). "Senate Report 113-93,
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* ^ Beckey 1993 , p. 42.
* ^ Beckey 1993 , p. 44.
* ^ Beckey 1993 , p. 47.
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