Mountain Planet

Denali (Mount McKinley)

Denali (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. It is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of the U.S. state of Alaska, Denali is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Basic Info
Altitude
Location: North America, USA (Alaska)
Known for: The highest point of North America, part of 7 summits challenge
Activity type: climbing, skiing
6190 m
50 m
Summit(s): South Summit (6 190 m), North Summit (5 934 m)
Prominence: 6140 m
Duration:
21-24 days
Best Time
Activity level:
Jan
Feb
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Apr
Mar
Technical difficulty:
1
2
3
4
5
Journey cost:
$2 200 - 11 200
The best time to climb Mt Denali is from May to the middle of July due to unpredictable weather changes. The training course on Mt Rainier as a preparation for Denali is possible from January till the end of April
1
2
3
4
5
Climbing
Skiing
Details about activity level and required physical condition you will find on specific activity offer page.
0
1
2
3
4
0
1
3
4
Climbing
Skiing
2
Details about technical elements and techniques required you will find on specific activity offer page.

Discover Denali

Part of the 7 summits challenge

The "Seven Summits" is the name given to highest points of the seven continents of the world. Five of the seven peaks on the list are unambiguous: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro and Vinson. Consensus today is very clearly behind Elbrus and Carstensz as the other two members of this exclusive club, there is some disagreement as to what constitutes the high points of Europe and the Australia/Oceania continent. Over 100 climbers have now done the Seven Summits, and these days it has become a popular quest.


Unique bold nature

Denali's abundant and diverse wildlife are just as famous as its tallest mountain, Denali, which towers above the landscape at 20,310' tall. In truth, although the park's namesake is a mountain, Denali was the first national park created to protect wildlife. Now, this park is home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and 1 lonely species of amphibian.
Unique bold nature

Denali's abundant and diverse wildlife are just as famous as its tallest mountain, Denali, which towers above the landscape at 20,310' tall. In truth, although the park's namesake is a mountain, Denali was the first national park created to protect wildlife. Now, this park is home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds, and 1 lonely species of amphibian.

Interesting name origins

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 ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was Bolshaya Gora (bolshaya = Russian for big; gora = Russian for mountain), which is the Russian translation of Denali. It was briefly called Densmore's Mountain in the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, a gold prospector who was the first non-native Alaskan to reach the base of the mountain. In 1896, a gold prospector named it McKinley as political support for then-presidential candidate William McKinley, who became president the following year. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson declared the north and south peaks of the mountain the "Churchill Peaks", in honor of British statesman Winston Churchill. The Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali in 1975, which was how it is called locally.

Interesting name origins

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 ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was Bolshaya Gora (bolshaya = Russian for big; gora = Russian for mountain), which is the Russian translation of Denali. It was briefly called Densmore's Mountain in the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, a gold prospector who was the first non-native Alaskan to reach the base of the mountain. In 1896, a gold prospector named it McKinley as political support for then-presidential candidate William McKinley, who became president the following year. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson declared the north and south peaks of the mountain the "Churchill Peaks", in honor of British statesman Winston Churchill. The Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali in 1975, which was how it is called locally.


Challenging and pushing boundaries

Denali is a mountain of extreme conditions, that's is why this climb requires proficiency in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, cramponing, and expedition camping skills. The unpredictable weather coupled with the high altitude requires not only technical snow and cold weather skills, but also endurance and fortitude. This is the most northern 6000 meters on our planet. It is important to keep in mind that 6000 meters on the Denali is equivalent to approximately 7500 meters somewhere in the Himalayas. Of course, this is not a precise reference, but only related to how these vertical meters makes your body feel.
Challenging and pushing boundaries

Denali is a mountain of extreme conditions, that's is why this climb requires proficiency in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, cramponing, and expedition camping skills. The unpredictable weather coupled with the high altitude requires not only technical snow and cold weather skills, but also endurance and fortitude. This is the most northern 6000 meters on our planet. It is important to keep in mind that 6000 meters on the Denali is equivalent to approximately 7500 meters somewhere in the Himalayas. Of course, this is not a precise reference, but only related to how these vertical meters makes your body feel.

Unpredictable weather

The climbing season on Denali is very short, and it is quite difficult to say which month in particularly is the best one to climb: at the beginning of the season you have to deal with -30-40 degrees below zero while at the end of the season when it is much warmer you face a risk of falling into crevasse.

At the beginning of the season the weather is slightly more stable than at the end, but trust me, weather is the factor that you should consider less. If you are not afraid of queues on the fixed ropes and overcrowded high camps, then choose the very middle of the season. It won't be so cold, and perhaps the glaciers will still be quite passable.

Unpredictable weather

The climbing season on Denali is very short, and it is quite difficult to say which month in particularly is the best one to climb: at the beginning of the season you have to deal with -30-40 degrees below zero while at the end of the season when it is much warmer you face a risk of falling into crevasse.

At the beginning of the season the weather is slightly more stable than at the end, but trust me, weather is the factor that you should consider less. If you are not afraid of queues on the fixed ropes and overcrowded high camps, then choose the very middle of the season. It won't be so cold, and perhaps the glaciers will still be quite passable.

Routes to сlimb Denali

There 3 main routes to the top of Denali.

In 90% of cases, people who come to Denali choose a route called West Buttress. This route is considered the least difficult of all existing routes on Denali, and importantly, it facilitates the organization of any rescue operations than on all others.

For those who fancy something a little more challenging there's the West Rib. It is a step up in technical difficulty from the West Buttress, with some sustained climbing, without being beyond the abilities of ordinary amateur climbers. Like the West Buttress it is accessed by air from the Kahiltna Glacier, and diverges from the West Buttress Route at the foot of Ski Hill, where it takes the Northeast Fork of the glacier.

Long regarded as Denali's classic line, the Cassin Ridge is a bit more hardcore. It contains 2400m of sustained climbing at high altitude. With the risk of Arctic storms ever present and no escape routes, it's one for only the very best. Like the West Rib it is accessed from the south side up the Valley of Death, and climbs Denali's south face parallel to the rib a little to the east.

Routes to сlimb Denali

There 3 main routes to the top of Denali.

In 90% of cases, people who come to Denali choose a route called West Buttress. This route is considered the least difficult of all existing routes on Denali, and importantly, it facilitates the organization of any rescue operations than on all others.

For those who fancy something a little more challenging there's the West Rib. It is a step up in technical difficulty from the West Buttress, with some sustained climbing, without being beyond the abilities of ordinary amateur climbers. Like the West Buttress it is accessed by air from the Kahiltna Glacier, and diverges from the West Buttress Route at the foot of Ski Hill, where it takes the Northeast Fork of the glacier.

Long regarded as Denali's classic line, the Cassin Ridge is a bit more hardcore. It contains 2400m of sustained climbing at high altitude. With the risk of Arctic storms ever present and no escape routes, it's one for only the very best. Like the West Rib it is accessed from the south side up the Valley of Death, and climbs Denali's south face parallel to the rib a little to the east.

Denali Activities

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If you want to learn more about all aspects of doing the challenge, you can read an article
"All you need to know to climb Mount Denali safely" written by Mountain Planet's founder Sergey Kofanov, or just drop us a line and we will answer all your questions.
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