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America’s deadliest mountains revealed – and the terrifying risks all hikers, climbers and skiers must know

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America’s deadliest mountains for hikers, climbers and skiers have been revealed – with the nation’s highest peak topping the list.

Volatile weather conditions, unstable terrain and high altitudes make the peaks dangerous and unpredictable, regardless of how well prepared visitors are. 

The most dangerous is Denali in Alaska with 96 fatalities and 341 accidents since 1947, according to the new study by Dr Emma DeLoughery for High Altitude Medicine and Biology. 

In second place is Mt Rainier in Washington with 87 deaths and 167 accidents, followed by Mt Hood in Oregon with 47 deaths and 93 accidents. 

Across all of the mountains, the majority of people died after falling while hiking but some were killed by falling rocks or avalanches. 

The most dangerous is Denali in Alaska with 96 fatalities and 341 accidents since 1947

The most dangerous is Denali in Alaska with 96 fatalities and 341 accidents since 1947

DeLoughery’s study gathered and analyzed the number of incidents on each peak between 1947 and 2022, looking for seasonal and demographic trends. 

They found that the most dangerous mountain in the US was Denali, which at over 20,000 feet is the highest peak in North America. 

Accidents included falls, frostbite, injuries resulting from avalanches, slipping into crevasses and altitude sickness.

DeLoughery told The Boston Globe: ‘Accidents can happen to anyone at any time.’ 

She said she was most surprised by how well-prepared many of the victims were.  

‘We didn’t specifically collect data on this, but after reading literally thousands of these reports, I was very struck by how frequently individuals involved in the accidents were described as experienced, knowledgeable, very well prepared.’

Most of the victims, 82 percent, were men and the majority of them were young. 

Last month, a mountain climber died in Denali National Park and their companion was seriously injured after falling nearly 1,000ft from the summit of Mount Johnson.

The two-person team had been climbing the 8,400-foot peak in the Denali National Park. 

Both individuals had been roped in and were ascending a route on the peak known as ‘the Escalator’, a steep, technical climb on the southeast face of the mountain.

Another climbing party witnessed the fall and alerted the Alaska Regional Communication Center shortly before 11 pm.

The climbing party who saw the fall then descended to reach the two climbers, confirming that one of them had died. 

Standing at just 6,288 feet above sea level, Mount Washington in New Hampshire had the fourth most fatalities. 

The extreme cold and wind make the ascent treacherous for even experienced climbers. 

‘Winter conditions exist on Mount Washington through the early summer,’ Lieutenant Robert Mancini Jr. of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department told the Boston Globe

Nearly each season, the summit experiences about 280 inches of snowfall, with wind-blown snow piling up to the depths of 10 to 40 feet in the east-facing ravines. 

The summit has recorded temperatures as low as -50°F (-46°C) and an estimated wind chill of -102°F was recorded in January 2004. 

Mt Rainier in Washington was the second most deadly mountain with 87 deaths and 167 accidents

Mt Rainier in Washington was the second most deadly mountain with 87 deaths and 167 accidents

According to data, Mount Washington is tied for the fourth deadliest and eighth for accidents causing injuries in comparison to other American peaks

According to data, Mount Washington is tied for the fourth deadliest and eighth for accidents causing injuries in comparison to other American peaks

In March 2024, Madison Saltsburg, 20, died after falling about 600ft down the Tuckerman Ravine on the New Hampshire mountain.

Two other skiers suffered serious injuries after falling and hitting rocks and ice. And there were a number of other falls witnessed throughout the day which didn’t result in serious injuries, according to the US Forest Service. 

The day of accidents prompted search efforts that continued for hours in the dark as teams worked to rescue the injured skiers and remove Saltsburg’s body from the mountain. 

Heavy, wet snow started to fall the night before and winds began to pick up, forcing the rescuers to battle on through the worsening conditions.

‘The snow rangers and emergency personnel were up there late last night. They’re exhausted,’ said Colleen Mainville, a spokesperson with the US Forest Service.

Tuckerman Ravine is particularly popular in the spring, when the sun begins to soften the snow.

FILE - Tuckerman Ravine is seen at left, about one mile below the summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, in New Hampshire

FILE – Tuckerman Ravine is seen at left, about one mile below the summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, in New Hampshire

On some days, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders make the three-mile hike to the ravine, resulting in a festive atmosphere. From there it can take another hour to kick boot steps in the wall to get to the top

On some days, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders make the three-mile hike to the ravine, resulting in a festive atmosphere. From there it can take another hour to kick boot steps in the wall to get to the top

On some days, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders make the three-mile hike to the ravine, resulting in a festive atmosphere. From there it can take another hour to kick boot steps in the wall to get to the top.

But risks – including open crevasses, avalanches and rocks – have resulted in several deaths over the years.

The Forest Service said Saltsburg and her skiing companion encountered hard and icy snow surfaces due to cold temperatures and a lack of recent snowfall. 

There were also open crevasse holes on the mountain, the service said, and conditions were unforgiving.

Despite the weather and high risk, Mount Washington is known to draw thousands of adventurers every year for hiking, ski mountaineering and ice climbing

Despite the weather and high risk, Mount Washington is known to draw thousands of adventurers every year for hiking, ski mountaineering and ice climbing

Hikers are advised to check real-time observations from the staffed observatory at the summit as well as the daily avalanche forecast published by Forest Service snow rangers

Hikers are advised to check real-time observations from the staffed observatory at the summit as well as the daily avalanche forecast published by Forest Service snow rangers

Forest Service rangers and a team from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center also responded to two other skiers who suffered severe injuries that weren’t life-threatening, Mainville said.

But despite the weather and high risk, Mount Washington is known to draw thousands of adventurers every year for hiking, ski mountaineering and ice climbing. 

Those wishing to access the summit are advised to check real-time observations from the staffed observatory at the summit as well as the daily avalanche forecast published by Forest Service snow rangers. 

Hikers are also advised to contact the caretakers at the Appalachian Mountain Club and Harvard Mountaineering Club huts. 

Many new hikers are also suggested to either climb with experienced mentors, join groups or hire professional guides in the area to avoid accidents. 



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