The 5 Deadliest Mountains in the U.S.

Kiley Chrisman | ClimbingClimbing
Climbers above 14,000ft on Denali. Image: American Alpine Institute

Mountains in the United States are often not deemed to be particularly dangerous when compared on a global scale. Many of the peaks in the U.S. are considered dangerous because they are heavily trafficked, oftentimes by inexperienced climbers. Since these peaks aren’t ‘Himalayan-big’, they can often be underestimated. Here’s a list of the five most dangerous mountains in the U.S. and what makes them so dangerous.

Mount Rainier, WA

A volcanic mountain located in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Rainier sits at 14,411ft filled with large glaciers, seracs, and crevasses. Although Mount Rainier has not produced a significant eruption in the past 500 years, it is the most dangerous volcano in the Cascade Range. The mountain also happens to have claimed over 400 lives, of which around 125 are climbing-related.

A different perspective of Mt. Rainier that you don’t normally see. Image: Mt Rainier National Park Facebook Page

Mount Washington, NH

Sitting at 6,288ft, Mount Washington is one of the most dangerous mountains in the U.S. due to its unique location. Temperatures of up to -40 °F with wind gusts of up to 231 mph pose a threat, and the weather on the mountain is frequently considered unpredictable. Because of the low altitude, many people bring less gear and have less experience, resulting in an underestimation of the mountain. Since the count began in 1849, there have been 161 deaths on Mount Washington.

Mt. Washington, NH. image: wikipedia.

Mount Saint Elias, AK

Mount Saint Elias is infrequently climbed today, because it has no easy route to the summit. Elias sits at 18,008ft on the Yukon-Alaska border and is the second-tallest mountain in the US. Elias has very few ascents and can go multiple seasons with someone making it to the top. Only eleven expeditions have been carried out in total, with a total of 43 climbers, of which only ten people were successful in reaching the summit.

Elevation grapic
A perfect shot of Mount Saint Elias. Image: Redbull

Denali, AK

Denali is the largest mountain in the United States and North America sitting at 20,320ft. Climbing this mountain poses significant dangers including high altitude and dangerous weather patterns. The fatality rate is  3.08/1,000 summit attempts and the mountain has claimed 127 lives since 1932.

Denali as seen from the Reflection Pond. Image: National Park Services

Mount Hood, OR

Every year, over 10,000 climbers attempt to reach the summit of Mount Hood.  As one of the deadliest mountains in the Cascade Range, Hood has 46 deaths since 2002 and at least 130 all-time reported deaths. Hood sits at 11,250ft, has 11 glaciers, and requires technical climbing. Rockfall and glacial features are frequent hazards that make climbing routes either extremely difficult or out of season.

Mt Hood
Evening alpenglow on Mt. Hood. Image: Q13 Fox

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