Only in Alaska: The tallest mountain in the world

Can you name the tallest mountain in the world? Did Mt. Everest just pop into your head? If so, you’re close – but not totally correct.

Mt. Everest, at 29,029ft, is the highest mountain in the world. But Everest’s base is way up on the Tibetan Plateau at 17,000 feet. So although this mountain reaches an elevation higher than any other on the planet, its base-to-summit height is actually closer to 12,000 feet.

If we measure from base to summit, Alaska’s Mt. McKinley (known locally by its native name Denali, or “the high one”), is the tallest mountain in the world. (Caveat: the folks in Hawaii might take issue with this, as Mauna Kea stretches over six miles, though only 13,796 feet of those are above water.)

But Denali’s base sits near 2,000 feet, giving this mountain a rise of 18,000 feet. In fact, Denali has an entire wall that stretches longer than many mountains at 13,652 feet. Wickersham Wall, as its called, is one continuous drop – and yes, people have skied it. Crazy people. Another fun fact about Denali is that it actually has two summits. The South Summit is the taller of the two, and naturally the one most climbed. The North Summit is no shorty at 19,470 feet, but is often ignored by those collecting peaks. When it comes to conquering mountains, elevation definitely matters.When it comes to seeing the tallest mountain in the world, North Americans are in luck. The peak can be viewed from afar in Anchorage, Alaska, the biggest city in the state. The best accessible views, however, are out of Talkeetna, a small town about a two-hour drive from Anchorage. This tiny town also serves as the base for the climbers who come to make summit attempts on Denali, so you can chat up those folks with crazy sunglasses tan lines about their experiences.

Coming up next: flight-seeing Mt. McKinley.