Mountains can be dangerous; there is no denying the fact that they can cause serious harm or sometimes death. As populations grow and people venture out into the wilderness to seek adventure, there is a perception out there that America is tame. No matter what happens, there is sophisticated medicine in the modern era, smartphones, and technology that can help us in an instant. However, what some people are unaware of is their own hubris, or excessive self-confidence, to conquer tremendous feats, mountains being some of them. Here is a list of some of the deadliest mountains in America and what makes them so dangerous.
- Mount Washington, New Hampshire – Starting off on the East Coast, according to Outside Online Mount Washington’s most deadly attribute is its unpredictable weather. Sitting dead center of the middle of three massive storm corridors, bad weather gets constantly pushed towards the mountain. Bad weather is no understatement, winds can gust up to 130mph regularly and has set the record measured by humans at 231 mph! The mountain, which is New Hampshire’s largest peak at 6,288ft (1,917m), has claimed the lives of 130 people.
- Mt. Rainier, Washington – According to Mt. Rainier Climbing, the mountain has claimed the lives of over 400 people, a substantial jump from the previous peak. But what makes it so dangerous you ask? Located in the Pacific Northwest, this 14,411ft (4,392m) peak is extremely technical to climb. Due to the large swaths of glaciers, seracs, and crevasses, the peak requires a lot of expertise and gear to make it to the peak.
- Denali, Alaska – Denali is the largest mountain not only in the United States but also in North America at 20,320ft (6,193m). Not only is high-altitude sickness a big problem, but compounding factors such as high-altitude pulmonary edema and high-altitude cerebral edema are things to worry about. According to the NCBI, the fatality rate on Denali is 3/1000 people that attempt to climb. That might not seem like a high ratio, but being the highest peak in North America has attracted 32,000 people to climb it and only half make it to the summit.
- Capitol Peak, Colorado – Living in Colorado, you hear stories from friends and others who have successfully summited or have turned around trying to climb Capitol Peak. The superlatives range from near death to most extreme and I don’t think they are kidding. This 14,131ft (4,307m) mountain is deep in the Elk Range is home to some serious exposure. According to the Vail Daily, Capitol has claimed the lives of 9 people in the last 17 years and 5 in 2017.
- Longs Peak, Colorado – A well-known mountain in Colorado’s Front Range, this 14,259ft (4,346m) peak is a serious mission to climb. Some people attempt to climb it in a day are faced with a serious 16 mile round trip with a total combined ascent of 5,100ft (1554.5 m). Longs is also a heavily trafficked mountain because it is within such close proximity to the Denver metropolitan area. A total of 58 people have died climbing or hiking Longs Peak, according to Wikipedia.
- Maroon Bells, Colorado (honorable mention) – Nicknamed the “Deadly Bells” with good reason, the Maroon Bells are some of the most awe-inspiring and difficult to climb mountains in Colorado. The Bells are around 14,163ft (4,317m) and have an infamous history of claiming lives due to the brittle nature of the mountain, where handholds and footholds easily give way and send people scrambling. While it is hard to gauge the totality of incidents reported on Colorado’s heavily trafficked 14ers, according to Colorado Mountaineering, in between 2010 and 2016 seven people perished and scores had accidents.