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Mount McKinley, The Great One

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Craig Frew | 11:27 UK time, Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Denali National Park image courtesy of Kent Miller

Standing at 20,320ft/6,194m Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America. Commonly known as Denali, or the "Great One" the mountain dominates Alaska, stretching more than 6 million acres with spectacular ice-clad peaks and sub-zero conditions. Located in the central portion of the Alaska Range, it is approximately 130 miles north-northwest of Mark's starting-point, Anchorage.

Perhaps one of the coldest mountains in the world outside of Antarctica, the constant winds that lash the peak make the extreme weather conditions unique. The coldest recorded temperature at Denali National Park & Preserve headquarters is - 48C (-55F).

Weather from the south brings snow storms with strong winds, and limited visibility and coupled with the extreme cold and limited daylight, it's enough to deter all but the most determined climbers.

The mountain is flanked by five giant glaciers and is not technically difficult to climb, but almost half of all attempts to reach the summit end in failure.

Mark's climbing the West Buttress route, a popular choice with climbers and takes around three weeks to complete. The route begins at 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. It follows the Kahiltna north before ascending up onto the West Buttress.

It's status as one of the seven summits - highest mountains from each of the seven continents - and reputation as one of the coldest climbs, Mount McKinley is an incredible challenge for anyone.

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