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It is known to the locals in Alaska as ‘The Mountain’.
Unfortunately, the chance of seeing Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska is only around twenty percent and many visitors leave the Denali National Park disappointed, having seen only the mass of cloud cover that keeps North America’s highest mountain hidden.
It is there, however: in all its 20,300 feet of snow-covered glory.
The allure of The Mountain is overwhelming.
So much so that I even considered – albeit rather briefly – the idea of climbing it one day. This climb is not for the fainthearted. And while I do not consider myself faint of heart, I am the first to admit that conquering this mountain is way out of my league.
Each year around 1,200 determined mountaineers attempt to climb Denali during the climbing season between late April and early July. Only about half of them actually make it to the summit.
Permanent snowfields swathe the majority of the mountain and winter temperatures at the lower altitudes can plummet to below -90ºF. Even in summer, temperatures at the summit can be gruelling and it is often weather that prevents mountaineers from completing their climb.
When I had an unobstructed view of Mount McKinley against a blue sky for most of my eight-hour train journey from Anchorage to Denali National Park, I assumed this could well be the only chance I would have to see the mountain during my month in Alaska.
But sometimes statistics are proven wrong:
I was fortunate enought to have that same unobstructed view for four of the six days I spent in Denali National Park.
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