Mount McKinley Height Was Incorrect Until Now


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Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain peak, has now been proven to be several feet shorter than was originally estimated.

In 1952, an advanced form of calculating measurements known as “photogrammetry” calculated the Alaskan peak as having a high point of 20,320 feet; a 2010 calculation by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative in Alaska determined that number to actually be 20,237. The study results were complete in 2011, but the news was never released until Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell decided to do so.

Treadwell released a statement at a map collectors’ symposium in Fair Banks last week. “That’s 83 feet shorter than we thought…The good news is: Denali is still the tallest peak in North America.”

If the 20,237 feet calculation is correct, that makes Mount McKinley the tallest peak, still, by more than 680 feet; the second-highest peak on the continent is Mount Logan in Canada, which stands at 19,551 feet.

Kari Craun, of the U.S. Geological Survey, says that while the technology used to calculate the peak two years ago is advanced, its main purpose is to calculate areas rather than a specific point, meaning the new measurement isn’t 100% accurate.

There are no plans at this time to recalculate the mountain peak or change the official measurement.

Mount McKinley climber Nick Parker told the Anchorage Daily News, “It’s still high, it’s still hard, it’s still cold. As long as it’s higher than Texas, I don’t care.”

Image courtesy Frank K. on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.