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Summit Climbing weather is safest from May to early July.
Fun Facts about Denali


You can really only climb safely on Denali from May 1st through the first week in July. In that short period, more than 1,000 climbers try to reach Denali's summit. Half make it to the top. (Thirty years ago, there were only about 100 climbers a year.)


For the year 2000 climbing season that just began, there are 1,130 registered climbers as of mid-May


As of May 2000, 12-year-old Young Sik Kim was the youngest climber ever to have reached the summit. He achieved this feat in June of 1998.


West Buttress The West Buttress route is the most popular with climbers.

The easiest way up Denali is the West Buttress—a 14-mile climb with an elevation gain of 13,000 feet. Most climbs take about 14 days; some last up to five weeks due to bad weather. (Did you know that going down steep slopes is usually more treacherous and takes longer than going up?)


Trash (including human poop) is as important an issue on Denali as safety and rescue. Rangers have hauled out more than 2,000 pounds of trash (a whole ton) from the mountain's climbing camps on different occasions.


The name Denali is from the Athabaskan dialect, used by the local Koyukuk villages. It roughly translates to "the high one."



William McKinley William McKinley
Denali was made an official wilderness area in 1917. Back then, it was called Mt. McKinley National Park, named for the U.S. President, William McKinley. It wasn't until 1980 that the name changed to Denali National Park and Preserve.


Denali is the highest peak on the North American continent, standing 20,320 feet tall.


On Denali, climbers spend 8 to 10 hours a day climbing; 6 hours in meal preparation and camp chores; and the rest, well, resting.


On average, 1 out of every 200 climbers dies each year on Denali.


Did you know The National Park Service conducts search and rescues only at its discretion? The weather conditions have to be safe enough to perform the rescue without losing rescuers. Climbers cannot assume that if they get into trouble they will be rescued, or rescued right away. In fact, climbers are expected to know their limitations, be self-sufficient, and be well prepared.


If you were climbing back in the 1970s, your gear would have cost you about $1,000. Today you can easily spend five times that much.


Wolf Between 12 and 18 wolf packs roam Denali.

The total size of the Park and Preserve is 9,420 square miles. (Slightly bigger than all of New Hampshire.)


Wolf packs roam Denali—one had 27 members and three litters of pups. Park visitors rarely get to see wolves because packs tend to avoid humans.


Ever hear of a crevasse? It's like a tear in a glacier as it flows around a corner or over an edge of rock. Crevasses can be tiny 4-inch cracks or wide enough for a car to fall into. They are often well-hidden under fresh snow, making hiking on glaciers extremely dangerous. (There's a crevasse on Denali called the Great Gorge that is 3,800 feet deep.)



Find the Seven Sisters

There are seven continents on Earth and each has its own "highest mountain." Some people dream of climbing all seven of these special summits—sometimes called the seven sisters or seven summits—in their lifetime.

Print this page and then find information from elsewhere on the Denali for Kids site to draw in each mountain up to its correct height. Color the seven sisters, post them in your room, and sit back and dream on . . .



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Photos: (1) Liesl Clark; (2) Brian Okonek, Alaska Denali Guiding, Inc.; (3) Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division LC-USZ62-8198 DLC; (4) Alan and Sandy Carey/PhotoDisc.

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