Online Junior Ranger: Camp 1

You climbed to Camp 1! Well done! Find this camp on your mountain and complete your first three activities.

Denali rises high above the clouds.
Rising 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) above sea level, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America.

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Denali, the High One

Denali means "the high one" in Alaska Native languages. Rising 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) above sea level, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. Denali towers above other peaks in the Alaska Range, a long arc of mountains created by movement of Earth's tectonic plates.

The Pacific plate is slowly moving northwest, crashing into and subducting beneath the North American plate. This causes the upper plate to buckle like the hood of a car during a collision. As the slow-motion crash continues, earthquakes sometimes shake beneath our feet, and the Alaska Range grows a little taller every year.

Meanwhile, glaciers, rivers, rain, and wind erode the mountains. These geologic forces work over long periods of time to shape every landform on Earth's surface, from mountains and plains to lakes and oceans. Geologic forces are shaping landforms near you, too!


How tall is Denali?

It may be difficult to imagine the height of a mountain as tall as Denali. Math can help us put things into perspective. How tall are you in feet or meters? How many of you would it take to equal the height of Denali?

In feet: 20,310 feet ÷ __(your height in feet)__ ⇒ Denali is as tall as ____ of me!

In meters: 6,190 meters ÷ __(your height in meters)__ ⇒ Denali is as tall as ____ of me!

1) Write "Denali is as tall as ____ of me!" and fill in the blank next to Camp 1 on your mountain.


How hard is climbing Denali?

Denali inspires scientists, artists, explorers, and of course, climbers from around the world. The average attempt to climb Denali takes three whole weeks! Climbing Denali safely and successfully requires lots of planning, training, and overcoming challenges along the route.

Five people on skis pulling sleds up a glacier
Five mountaineers are roped together for safety on their dangerous expedition.

NPS Photo

One challenge of climbing Denali is weather. Many consider Denali the coldest mountain on Earth due to its high elevation, subarctic location, and powerful winds. Mountaineers wear special gear to protect themselves from dangers of the extreme cold.

Another challenge is altitude sickness. Air is less dense at high elevations, which limits available oxygen. Not breathing enough oxygen can cause headache, nausea, and shortness of breath, especially during hard exercise like climbing. Mountaineers plan rest days carefully so their bodies can acclimate.

Press your finger over one nostril and run or dance in place. Breathing is a lot harder with half as much air! This is what mountaineering at high elevations feels like.

2) Write one word to describe how you feel after your "mountaineering" experience next to Camp 1.

Mountaineer near a large crevasse
A mountaineer trudges uphill alongside a deep crevasse.

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Yet another challenge is trusting teammates. Can you think of a time when you were part of a team? Perhaps you played a team sport or completed a group project at school. Every member of your team shared a common goal.

Mountaineering teams also share a common goal, but with more serious risks involved. Teammates rope together in case someone falls down a steep slope or into a crevasse. If a teammate falls, the others use their bodyweight and ropes to stop their fall.

3) Who would you trust on your mountaineering team? Write the names of two people next to Camp 1.

Bonus challenge! Tell one of your trusted teammates about what it would be like to climb Denali, the tallest mountain in North America.

Camps along the West Buttress mountaineering route to the summit of Denali.
Click on Camp 2 to climb onward!

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Base Camp Camp 2

Learn More, Climb Higher

(Optional) To take a detour and learn more about geology and mountaineering on Denali, please visit:

Ready to climb onward? Click on Camp 2 using the interactive image map of Denali! ⇒

Return home or proceed to next camp.

Last updated: February 1, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


907 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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