The primary peaks of the central Alaska Range, Mt. Foraker (17,400 ft.), Mt. Hunter (14,573 ft.), and Denali (20,320 ft.), are stunning when viewed from any location. Denali is the "Crown Jewel" of Denali National Park and Preserve and the highest mountain in North America.
At least nine Native Peoples, since time immemorial, used unique names for Denali. Five Athabaskan languages surround the Park, each having its own place name. The name "Denali" comes from "deenaalee," from the traditional Koyukon language spoken on the north side of the Alaska Range.
This monolithic arc of granite spires stretches approximately 600 miles from the Alaska Peninsula to the Alaska-Canada border and contains 20 of the 70 highest peaks in the State above 12,000 feet. Official heights of Denali's southern summit range from 20,310 feet to 20,343 feet, with age estimates of the entire range at 359- to 419-million years old … the Devonian to Cretaceous Age.
The north face of Denali, the Wickersham Wall, is one of Earth's highest continuous faces towering 14,000 feet from the Peters Glacier to the North Summit which is 19,470 feet.
Denali's base sits at 2,000 feet above sea level then rises over 18,000 feet to its summit … Mt. Everest's base begins on a 14,000-foot high plain, rising just over 15,000 feet to its summit at 29,028 feet. Denali rises over three and one-half miles from its base … so by its sheer bulk, as measured from base to summit, Denali is about a mile taller than Everest.
The great mountain is so large that it generates its own weather. Its influences on the air masses due to the air rising so abruptly and high are far more dramatic than perhaps anywhere else on Earth.
Denali has some of the world's coldest and most violent weather, with severe winds of over 150 mph and temperatures of -93°F on record. Snow and ice blanket about 75% of Denali with colossal glaciers as large as 45-miles long and 3,700-feet thick fanning out from its base.
On clear days, at or near ground-level without obstruction, these peaks can be seen from about 150 miles away all directions … from an airplane or jet these peaks are visible from several hundred miles away.
On several photographic excursions over the years into Denali Park, I have seen many Park visitors, upon first seeing "The Mountain" show off all its glory, sit down on the tundra and cry tears of elation.
All images © Dave Parkhurst www.TheAlaskaCollection.com