Saturday, August 2, 2014

Most Deadly Mountain Peaks in the United States

There are many different ways people die every year on top of mountains and these are the most deadly mountain peaks located in the United States. Each one of these deadly mountains has seen at least 100 recorded fatalities. 

The majority of the deaths involve mountain climbers, but there are any number of ways one can die on a mountain peak.

Most Deadly Mountain Peaks in the United States

Also known as Mount McKinley, Denali is the highest mountain in the United States and in North America at 20,320 feet. Being the tallest mountain in North America makes Denali one of the 7 highest summits on each of the seven continents which presents a big challenge to mountain climbers from all over the world. 
Some 32,000 people have attempted to climb Denali and at least 100 have died on the mountain, including 11 in 1992 alone. The weather on Denali can be incredibly brutal and unpredictable. 
An automated weather station on the mountain at 18,700 feet has recorded temperatures as low as -75.5 degrees with wind chills as low as -118.1 degrees in winter, and even in July the station has recorded temperatures as low as -22.9 degrees with wind chills as low as -59.2 degrees. 
People can die very fast at such low temperatures, especially when caught and trapped on the mountain in sudden storms. Climbers have also died from falling, avalanches, high altitude sickness which causes cerebral edema or brain swelling, heart attacks and accidents such as falling into crevasses, as opposed to just falling down slopes or over ledges. 
About half the people who attempt to summit Denali every year make it to the top, but every so often people die on Denali.
Mount Rainier
At 14,411 feet Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in Washington and the tallest mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range of the Pacific Northwest. The mountain is the centerpiece of Mount Rainier National Park and is very popular with hikers and climbers. 
Almost 2 million people visit the park per year and anywhere from 8,000 to 13,000 people attempt to summit Mount Rainier in any given year. And roughly 3 people die each year on Mount Rainier. 
In total, well over 100 people have lost their lives on Mount Rainier, including 32 people who died on the South Tahoma Glacier on the southwest flank of Rainier in 1946 when the plane they were flying in crashed into the mountain. 
The deadliest mountaineering accident in American history occurred in 1981 on the eastern flank of Rainier on the Ingraham Glacier when 11 climbers were swept away when a huge block of ice broke free from the mountain above and swept them to their deaths and entombed them on the mountain. 
Occasionally park rangers flying over the area since the accident in helicopters will see an exposed body part or two sticking out of a crevasse, but the area the bodies lay in is too unstable to try and recover any of these bodies on Mount Rainier.
Mount Hood
At 11,249 feet Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon and the 4th highest mountain in the Cascade Mountains. Millions of people each year visit Mount Hood and about 10,000 climbers attempt to summit the mountain on a yearly basis. 
Almost all of those visitors and climbers leave Mount Hood alive but at least 140 people have died on the slopes of Mount Hood. The first climbing death on the mountain occurred back in 1896 when Frederic Kirn left his guide and attempted to reach the summit by himself. His body was found on a glacier after an avalanche apparently swept him over a cliff and he fell some 400 feet to his death. 
Since then, many more people have died on the mountain but most people on Mount Hood do not die from avalanches. The most common ways to die here are falls and freezing to death. 
Many people become trapped on the mountain when bad weather rolls in quickly and they try to survive by digging ice and snow caves. In 1976 three young climbers survived for 13 days in a snow cave before escaping alive. Some, however, do not escape and freeze to death in snow caves. 
Mount Hood is an active volcano and at least one death is attributed to a man breathing in gases emitted from a fumarole on the mountain and being so overcome by the gases he fell 50 feet to his death. About 50 people per year need assistance on Mount Hood and it is believed that the use of modern technology like cell phones and GPS devices has and will help more people who become trapped on this deadly mountain to survive. 
Mount Washington
Since 1849, some 135 people have died on Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet Mount Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and in the northeast. The mountain is notorious for bad weather as three major storm tracks converge above Mount Washington. 
The average temperature on the mountain over the whole year is just 27.2 degrees, which is over 4 degrees below freezing. Winds average 35 miles per hour here and frequent fog often limits visibility and Mount Washington averages 26 feet of snow per year. 
Some 70 million people live within a day's drive of Mount Washington and millions of people visit the mountain every year and most survive just fine but over the years people have died here from many different causes including hypothermia, falls, drownings, avalanches, ice falls, natural causes and even some vehicular accidents as you can drive along a 7.6 mile toll road that ends at the summit. 
You can even die on Mount Washington in skiing accidents as late as June. Tuckerman's Ravine on the southeast face of the mountain receives lots of yearly snow and limited sunshine so the snow can last until June. There are no ski lifts here but many skiers make the trip to Tuckerman's Ravine and hike with their gear to the top and ski down the natural bowl. 
Six people have died while doing this mainly from avalanches. There is also a cog railroad that takes passengers to the summit and in 1967, while descending the mountain the train derailed and the passenger car skidded hundreds of feet and slammed into a large rock killing eight passengers and injuring 72 others. 
Though Mount Hood has seen more recorded fatalities, Mount Washington leads all mountain peaks in the United States in the variety of ways people have died on the mountain.
Denali, Rainier, Hood and Washington are the four mountains that have seen at least 100 fatalities and are the most deadly mountain peaks in the United States.

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