Mount Fairweather, is the highest mountain in the Canadian province of British Columbia, with an elevation of 4,671 metres. It is located 20 km east of the Pacific Ocean on the border of Alaska, United States and western British Columbia, Canada. Most of the mountain lies within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in the City and Borough of Yakutat, though the summit borders Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, British Columbia, it is designated as Boundary Peak 164 or as US/Canada Boundary Point #164. The mountain was named on May 3, 1778 by Captain James Cook for the unusually good weather encountered at the time; the name has been translated into many languages. It was called "Mt. Beautemps" by La Perouse, "Mte. Buen-tiempo" by Galiano, "Gor-Khoroshy-pogody" on Russian Hydrographic Dept. Chart 1378 in 1847, "G Fayerveder" by Captain Tebenkov, Imperial Russian Navy, it was called "Schönwetterberg" by Constantin Grewingk in 1850 and "Schönwetter Berg" by Justus Perthes in 1882. Fairweather was first climbed in 1931 by Allen Carpé and Terris Moore.
Mount Fairweather is located right above Glacier Bay in the Fairweather Range of the Saint Elias Mountains. Mount Fairweather marks the northwest extremity of the Alaska Panhandle. Like many peaks in the St. Elias Mountains, Mount Fairweather has great vertical relief due to its dramatic rise from Glacier Bay. However, due to poor weather in the area, this effect is obscured with the clouds which hides the summit from view. Known in the Tlingit language as Tsalxhaan, it is said this mountain and Yaas'éit'aa Shaa were next to each other but had an argument and separated, their children, the mountains in between the two peaks, are called Tsalxhaan Yatx'i Despite its name, Mount Fairweather has harsh weather conditions. It receives over 100 inches of precipitation each year and sees temperatures of around -50 °F. 1926 Allen Carpe, Andy Taylor and W. S. Ladd reached 2,890 m on the West Ridge, but were forced back due to a steep notch in the ridge that made ferrying supplies difficult. 1930 Bradford Washburn made an attempt on the West Ridge but traveling conditions forced a retreat at 2,040 metres.
1931 Allen Carpe and Terris Moore summited via the Southeast Ridge on June 8, 1931 1958 Paddy Sherman and 7 other Canadians reached the summit via the SE Ridge on June 26, 1958. 1968 West Ridge, Loren Adkins, Walter Gove, Paul Myhre, John Neal and Kent Stokes - summit reached June 12, 1968 1973 Southwest Ridge, Peter Metcalf, Henry Florschutz, Toby O'Brien and Lincoln Stoller. Summit reached on July 10, 1973. After failing to reach the summit in 1926 due to terrain difficulty on their chosen route, Allen Carpe, W. S. Ladd, Andy Taylor returned in 1931 along with a new member Terry Moore. In early April the group began their approach by boat but stormy weather delayed them rounding Cape Fairweather until April 17, they unloaded their supplies on the beach. Backtracking 21 kilometres along the coast, they made their way to the Fairweather Glacier. From base camp in a spot they called Paradise Valley, they decided to attempt the mountain from the south rather than via the west ridge. Due to deep snow, they realized that skis and snowshoes would be of great help so Carpe and Moore made the 80 km round trip to fetch them from Lituya Bay.
They ascended the glacier from base setup camp at 1,520 m on the mountain's south face. On May 25, they established high camp at 2,740 m after making significant progress up a ridge on a rare day of good weather. However, the weather turned and they were forced to descend after an overnight coating of snow. After waiting out the snowstorm for six days at lower camp, they made their way back up to high camp on June 2, they left for the summit at 1:30 am on June 3 and having reached the southeast shoulder by mid-morning, they were feeling so confident that they left the willow wands behind. However, higher altitude and the weeks of hard effort slowed their progress and the weather changed. By 1 pm not far from the summit, they decided to retreat and had to descend without the wands to guide them, they managed to reach the tents by 4 pm. Ladd and Taylor volunteered to descend due to dwindling supplies at high camp with the hope that Carpe and Moore would be able to make another attempt in good weather.
The storm raged for four days before it cleared in the evening on June 7. At 10 pm, Carpe and Moore set out for the summit and with no further difficulties made it to the top. List of mountain peaks of North America List of mountain peaks of Canada List of mountain peaks of the United States List of Boundary Peaks of the Alaska-British Columbia/Yukon border NOAA Ship Fairweather Sherman, Paddy. Cloud Walkers. MacMillan. ISBN 0-916890-79-1
Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. With a topographic prominence of 20,156 feet and a topographic isolation of 4,629 miles, Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of the U. S. state of Alaska, Denali is the centerpiece of Preserve. The Koyukon people who inhabit the area around the mountain have referred to the peak as "Denali" for centuries. In 1896, a gold prospector named it "Mount McKinley" in support of then-presidential candidate William McKinley. In August 2015, following the 1975 lead of the State of Alaska, the United States Department of the Interior announced the change of the official name of the mountain to Denali. In 1903, James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing Denali, unsuccessful. In 1906, Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, proven to be false; the first verifiable ascent to Denali's summit was achieved on June 7, 1913, by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit.
In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route, therefore the most popular in use. On September 2, 2015, the U. S. Geological Survey announced that the mountain is 20,310 feet high, not 20,320 feet, as measured in 1952 using photogrammetry. Denali is a granitic pluton lifted by tectonic pressure from the subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate; the forces that lifted Denali cause many deep earthquakes in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Pacific Plate is seismically active beneath Denali, a tectonic region, known as the "McKinley cluster". Denali has a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in North America and the northernmost mountain above 6,000 meters elevation in the world. Measured from base to peak at some 18,000 ft, it is among the largest mountains situated above sea level. Denali rises from a sloping plain with elevations from 1,000 to 3,000 ft, for a base-to-peak height of 17,000 to 19,000 ft.
By comparison, Mount Everest rises from the Tibetan Plateau at a much higher base elevation. Base elevations for Everest range from 13,800 ft on the south side to 17,100 ft on the Tibetan Plateau, for a base-to-peak height in the range of 12,000 to 15,300 ft. Denali's base-to-peak height is little more than half the 33,500 ft of the volcano Mauna Kea, which lies under water. Denali has two significant summits: the South Summit is the higher one, while the North Summit has an elevation of 19,470 ft and a prominence of 1,270 ft; the North Summit is sometimes counted as sometimes not. Five large glaciers flow off the slopes of the mountain; the Peters Glacier lies on the northwest side of the massif, while the Muldrow Glacier falls from its northeast slopes. Just to the east of the Muldrow, abutting the eastern side of the massif, is the Traleika Glacier; the Ruth Glacier lies to the southeast of the mountain, the Kahiltna Glacier leads up to the southwest side of the mountain. With a length of 44 mi, the Kahiltna Glacier is the longest glacier in the Alaska Range.
The Koyukon Athabaskans who inhabit the area around the mountain have for centuries referred to the peak as Dinale or Denali. The name is based on a Koyukon word for "high" or "tall". During the Russian ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was Bolshaya Gora, the Russian translation of Denali, it was called Densmore's Mountain in the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, an Alaskan prospector, the first European to reach the base of the mountain. In 1896, a gold prospector named it McKinley as political support for then-presidential candidate William McKinley, who became president the following year; the United States formally recognized the name Mount McKinley after President Wilson signed the Mount McKinley National Park Act of February 26, 1917. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson declared the north and south peaks of the mountain the "Churchill Peaks", in honor of British statesman Winston Churchill; the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali in 1975, how it is called locally.
However, a request in 1975 from the Alaska state legislature to the United States Board on Geographic Names to do the same at the federal level was blocked by Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, whose district included McKinley's hometown of Canton. On August 30, 2015, just ahead of a presidential visit to Alaska, the Barack Obama administration announced the name Denali would be restored in line with the Alaska Geographic Board's designation. U. S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued the order changing the name to Denali on August 28, 2015, effective immediately. Jewell said the change had been "a long time coming"; the renaming of the mountain received praise from Alaska's senior U. S. senator, Lisa Murkowski, who had introduced legislation to accomplish the name change, but it drew criticism from several politicians from Pres
Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve is an American national park and preserve managed by the National Park Service in south central Alaska; the park and preserve were established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The protected areas are included in an International Biosphere Reserve and are part of the Kluane/Wrangell–St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek UNESCO World Heritage Site; the park and preserve form the largest area managed by the National Park Service with a total of 13,175,799 acres, an expanse that could encapsulate a total of six Yellowstone National Parks. The park includes a large portion of the Saint Elias Mountains, which include most of the highest peaks in the United States and Canada, yet are within 10 miles of tidewater, one of the highest reliefs in the world. Wrangell–St. Elias borders on Canada's Kluane National Park and Reserve to the east and approaches another American national park to the south, Glacier Bay; the chief distinction between park and preserve lands is that sport hunting is prohibited in the park and permitted in the preserve.
In addition, 9,078,675 acres of the park are designated as the largest single wilderness in the United States. Wrangell–St. Elias National Monument was designated on December 1, 1978, by President Jimmy Carter using the Antiquities Act, pending final legislation to resolve the allotment of public lands in Alaska. Establishment as a national park and preserve followed the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980; the park has long cold winters and a short summer season. Plate tectonics are responsible for the uplift of the mountain ranges; the park's extreme high point is Mount Saint Elias at 18,008 feet, the second tallest mountain in both the United States and Canada. The park has been shaped by the competing forces of glaciation. Mount Wrangell is one of several volcanoes in the western Wrangell Mountains. In the St. Elias Range, Mount Churchill has erupted explosively within the past 2,000 years; the park's glacial features include Malaspina Glacier, the largest piedmont glacier in North America, Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska, Nabesna Glacier, the world's longest valley glacier.
The Bagley Icefield covers much of the park's interior, which includes 60% of the permanently ice-covered terrain in Alaska. At the center of the park, the boomtown of Kennecott exploited one of the world's richest deposits of copper from 1903 to 1938, exposed by and in part incorporated into Kennicott Glacier; the abandoned mine buildings and mills comprise a National Historic Landmark district. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve includes the entire Wrangell range, the western portion of the Saint Elias Mountains and the eastern portion of the Chugach Mountains. Lesser ranges in the park or preserve include the Nutzotin Mountains, which are an extension of the Alaska Range, the Granite Range and the Robinson Mountains. Broad rivers run in glacial valleys between the ranges, including the Chitina River, Chisana River and the Nabesna River. All but the Chisana and Nabesna are tributaries to the Copper River, which flows along the western margin of the park and which has its headwaters within the park, at the Copper Glacier.
The park includes dozens of icefields. The Bagley Icefield covers portions of the St. Elias and Chugach ranges, Malaspina Glacier covers most of the southeastern extension of the park, with Hubbard Glacier at the park's extreme eastern boundary, the largest tidewater glacier in North America; the eastern boundary of the park is Alaska's border with Canada, where it is adjoined by Kluane National Park and Reserve. On the southeast the park is bounded by Tongass National Forest and the Gulf of Alaska; the remainder of the southern boundary follows the crest of the Chugach Mountains, adjoining Chugach National Forest. The western boundary is the Copper River, the northern boundary follows the Mentasta Mountains and borders Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. Mount St. Elias is the second highest mountain in the United States. In total nine of the 16 highest peaks on U. S. soil are located in the park, along with North America's largest subpolar icefield, rivers, an active volcano, the historic Kennecott copper mines.
Both the St. Elias and Wrangell ranges have seen volcanic activity; the St. Elias volcanoes are considered extinct, but some of the volcanoes of the Wrangell Range have been active in Holocene time. Ten separate volcanoes have been documented in the western Wrangell Range, of which Mount Blackburn is the highest and Mount Wrangell is the most active. Mount St. Elias is situated on the border of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Kluane National Park and Reserve. At 18,074 feet,Nearly 66 percent of park and preserve land is designated as wilderness. Wrangell–St. Elias Wilderness is the largest designated wilderness in the United States; the park region is divided between national park lands, which only allow subsistence hunting by local rural residents, preserve lands, which allow sport hunting by the general public. Preserve lands include the Chitina valley north of the river, two parts of the Copper River valley east of the river, most of the Chisana and Nabesna valleys, lands along Yakutat Bay.
The park is accessible by highway from Anchorage. Chartered aircraft fly into the park. Wrangell–St. Elias received 79,450 visitors in 2018; the park area includes a few small settlements. Nabesna and Chisana are in the nort
Pico de Orizaba
Pico de Orizaba known as Citlaltépetl, is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America, after Denali of Alaska in the United States and Mount Logan of Canada. It rises 5,636 metres above sea level in the eastern end of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, on the border between the states of Veracruz and Puebla; the volcano is dormant but not extinct, with the last eruption taking place during the 19th century. It is the second most prominent volcanic peak in the world after Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro. Pico de Orizaba overlooks the city of Orizaba, from which it gets its name; the name Citlaltépetl is not used by Nahuatl speakers of the Orizaba area, who instead call it Istaktepetl, or'White Mountain'. Citlaltépetl comes from the Náhuatl citlalli and tepētl and thus means "Star Mountain"; this name is thought to be based on the fact that the snow-covered peak can be seen year round for hundreds of kilometers throughout the region. During the colonial era, the volcano was known as Cerro de San Andrés due to the nearby settlement of San Andrés Chalchicomula at its base.
A third name, which means "the one that colors or illuminates", has been recorded. This name was given by the Tlaxcaltecs in memory of their lost country; the peak of Citlaltépetl rises to an elevation of 5,636 m above sea level. Regionally dominant, Pico de Orizaba is the highest peak in Mexico and the highest volcano in North America. Orizaba is ranked 7th in the world in topographic prominence, it is the second most prominent volcanic peak in the world after Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro, the volcano is ranked 16th in the world for topographic isolation. About 110 km to the west of the port of Veracruz, its peak is visible to ships approaching the port in the Gulf of Mexico, at dawn rays of sunlight strike the Pico while Veracruz still lies in shadow; the topography of Pico de Orizaba is asymmetrical from the center of the crater. The gradual slopes of the northwestern face of the volcano allows for the presence of large glaciers and is the most traveled route to take for hikers traveling to the summit.
Pico de Orizaba is one of only three volcanoes in México that continue to support glaciers and is home to the largest glacier in Mexico, Gran Glaciar Norte. Orizaba has nine known glaciers: Gran Glaciar Norte, Lengua del Chichimeco, Toro, Glaciar de la Barba, Occidental and Oriental; the equilibrium line altitude is not known for Orizaba. Snow on the south and southeast sides of the volcano melts because of solar radiation, but lower temperatures on the northwest and north sides allow for glaciers; the insolation angle and wind redeposition on the northwest and north sides allow for constant accumulation of snow providing a source for the outlet glaciers. On the north side of Orizaba, the Gran Glaciar Norte fills the elongated highland basin and is the source for seven outlet glaciers; the main glacier extends 3.5 km north of the crater rim, has a surface area of about 9.08 km2 descending from 5,650 m to about 5,000 m. It has a irregular and stepped profile, caused in part by the configuration of the bedrock.
Most crevasses show an ice thickness of 50 m. Below the 5,000 m in elevation on the north side of the volcano, the outlet glaciers Lengua del Chichimeco and Jamapa extend north and northwest another 1.5 km and 2 km, respectively. The terminal lobe of Lengua del Chichimeco at 4,740 m, having a gradient of only 140 m/km, is a low, broad ice fan that has a convex-upward profile, a front typical of all Mexican glaciers; the most distinct glacier is Glaciar de Jamapa, which leaves Gran Glaciar Norte at about 4,975 m and, after 2 km with a gradient of 145 m/km, divides into two small tongues that end at 4,650 m and 4,640 m. Both tongues terminate in broad convex-upward ice fans thinning along their edges; the retreat of these tongues prior to 1994 produced much erosion downstream and buried their edges by ablation rock debris. The west side of Gran Glaciar Norte generates five outlet glaciers. From north to south, the first two, Glaciar del Toro and Glaciar de la Barba, are hanging cliff or icefall glaciers, reaching the tops of giant lava steps at 4,930 m and 5,090 m, respectively.
They descend 200 to 300 m farther down into the heads of stream valleys as huge ice blocks but are not regenerated there. About 1 km, Glaciar Noroccidental, a small outlet glacier 300 m long, drains away from the side of Gran Glaciar Norte at about 5,100 m and draws down the ice surface a few tens of meters over a distance of 500 m, descending to 4,920 m with a gradient of 255 m/km. Another 1 km still farther south, Glaciar Occidental breaks away from Gran Glaciar Norte west of the summit crater at about 5,175 m as a steep, 1 km long glacier having a gradient of 270 m/km that ends at 4,930 m. From the southwest corner of the mountain, another outlet glacier, Glaciar Suroccidental, 1.6 km long, flows from Gran Glaciar Norte at 5,250 m with a gradient of 200 m/km, which en
Alaska is a U. S. state in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast, its most extreme western part is Attu Island, it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean; the Pacific Ocean lies to southwest. It is the largest U. S. state by the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States. Half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are a significant part of the economy; the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2 million U. S. dollars at two cents per acre. The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912.
It was admitted as the 49th state of the U. S. on January 3, 1959. The name "Alaska" was introduced in the Russian colonial period when it was used to refer to the Alaska Peninsula, it was derived from an Aleut-language idiom. It means object to which the action of the sea is directed. Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the United States and has the most easterly longitude in the United States because the Aleutian Islands extend into the Eastern Hemisphere. Alaska is the only non-contiguous U. S. state on continental North America. It is technically part of the continental U. S. but is sometimes not included in colloquial use. S. called "the Lower 48". The capital city, Juneau, is situated on the mainland of the North American continent but is not connected by road to the rest of the North American highway system; the state is bordered by Yukon and British Columbia in Canada, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
Alaska's territorial waters touch Russia's territorial waters in the Bering Strait, as the Russian Big Diomede Island and Alaskan Little Diomede Island are only 3 miles apart. Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U. S. states combined. Alaska is the largest state in the United States by total area at 663,268 square miles, over twice the size of Texas, the next largest state. Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. Counting territorial waters, Alaska is larger than the combined area of the next three largest states: Texas and Montana, it is larger than the combined area of the 22 smallest U. S. states. There are no defined borders demarcating the various regions of Alaska, but there are six accepted regions: The most populous region of Alaska, containing Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula. Rural unpopulated areas south of the Alaska Range and west of the Wrangell Mountains fall within the definition of South Central, as do the Prince William Sound area and the communities of Cordova and Valdez.
Referred to as the Panhandle or Inside Passage, this is the region of Alaska closest to the rest of the United States. As such, this was where most of the initial non-indigenous settlement occurred in the years following the Alaska Purchase; the region is dominated by the Alexander Archipelago as well as the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States. It contains the state capital Juneau, the former capital Sitka, Ketchikan, at one time Alaska's largest city; the Alaska Marine Highway provides a vital surface transportation link throughout the area, as only three communities enjoy direct connections to the contiguous North American road system. Designated in 1963; the Interior is the largest region of Alaska. Fairbanks is the only large city in the region. Denali National Park and Preserve is located here. Denali is the highest mountain in North America. Southwest Alaska is a sparsely inhabited region stretching some 500 miles inland from the Bering Sea. Most of the population lives along the coast.
Kodiak Island is located in Southwest. The massive Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world, is here. Portions of the Alaska Peninsula are considered part of Southwest, with the remaining portions included with the Aleutian Islands; the North Slope is tundra peppered with small villages. The area is known for its massive reserves of crude oil, contains both the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field; the city of Utqiagvik known as Barrow, is the northernmost city in the United States and is located here. The Northwest Arctic area, anchored by Kotzebue and containing the Kobuk River valley, is regarded as being part of this region. However, the respective Inupiat of the No
Mount Hunter (Alaska)
Mount Hunter or Begguya is a mountain in Denali National Park in Alaska. It is eight miles south of Denali, the highest peak in North America. "Begguya" means child in the Dena'ina language. Mount Hunter is the third-highest major peak in the Alaska Range. Mount Hunter has a complex structure: it is topped by a large, low-angled glacier plateau, connecting the North Summit and the South Summit. Long, corniced ridges extend in various directions; the native name for the mountain is Begguya, meaning "Denali's Child". Early prospectors referred to the mountain as Mount Roosevelt. In 1903, Robert Dunn, a reporter for the New York Commercial Advertiser, visited the area as part of Frederick Cook's attempt to climb Mount McKinley, he bestowed the name of his aunt Anna Falconnet Hunter, who financed his trip, on a high nearby mountain, prominent from the northwest. This was, in a different peak, now known as Kahiltna Dome; the name Hunter was mistakenly applied to the present-day Mount Hunter by a government surveyor in 1906.
In October 2010, the South Summit was named Mount Stevens, after Ted Stevens, a former senator of Alaska. Despite being much lower in elevation than Denali, Mount Hunter is a more difficult climb, due to its steep faces and corniced ridges. Fred Beckey, Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm completed the first ascent in 1954, via the long West Ridge. Beginning in 1977, with Michael Kennedy and George Lowe's climb of a route on the northwest face of Mount Hunter, this steep rock and ice face has been the scene of many landmark hard climbs. 1954 West Ridge - first ascent of peak by Fred Beckey, Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm 1977 Lowe-Kennedy, on the north face. 1979 South Spur by John Mallon Waterman 1981 Moonflower Buttress first ascent to last rock band by Mugs Stump and Paul Aubry. 1983 Moonflower Buttress to summit, first complete ascent by Todd Bibler and Doug Klewin. 1985 "Diamond Arete" first ascent by Jack Tackle and Jim Donini 1989 Northwest Face first ascent by Conrad Anker and Seth'S.
T.' Shaw, summit attained July 3, 1989. 1994 Deprivation, first ascent by Scott Backes and Mark Francis Twight. 1994 Wall of Shadows, first ascent by Greg Child and Michael Kennedy. List of mountain peaks of North America List of mountain peaks of the United States List of mountain peaks of Alaska List of the highest major summits of the United States List of the most prominent summits of the United States ^ This is excluding the North Peak and other sub-summits of Denali
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in California, as well as the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada—with an elevation of 14,505 feet. It is in Central California, on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, 84.6 miles west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park at 282 ft below sea level. The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County; the summit of Mount Whitney is on the Great Basin Divide. It lies near many of the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada; the peak rises above the Owens Valley, sitting 10,778 feet or just over two miles above the town of Lone Pine 15 miles to the east, in the Owens Valley. It rises more on the west side, lying only about 3,000 feet above the John Muir Trail at Guitar Lake.
The mountain is dome-shaped, with its famously jagged ridges extending to the sides. Mount Whitney has an alpine climate and ecology. Few plants grow near the summit: one example is the sky pilot, a cushion plant that grows low to the ground; the only animals are transient, such as the butterfly Parnassius phoebus and the gray-crowned rosy finch. The mountain is the highest point on the Great Basin Divide. Waterways on the west side of the peak flow into Whitney Creek; the Kern River terminates in the Tulare Basin. During wet years, water overflows from the Tulare Basin into the San Joaquin River which flows to the Pacific Ocean. From the east, water from Mount Whitney flows to Lone Pine Creek, which joins the Owens River, which in turn terminates at Owens Lake, an endorheic lake of the Great Basin; the estimated elevation of the summit of Mount Whitney has changed over the years. The technology of elevation measurement has become more refined and, more the vertical coordinate system has changed.
The peak was said to be at 14,494 ft and this is the elevation stamped on the USGS brass benchmark disk on the summit. An older plaque on the summit reads "elevation 14,496.811 feet" but this was estimated using the older vertical datum from 1929. Since the shape of the Earth has been estimated more accurately. Using a new vertical datum established in 1988 the benchmark is now estimated to be at 14,505 ft; the eastern slope of Whitney is far steeper than its western slope because the entire Sierra Nevada is the result of a fault-block, analogous to a cellar door: the door is hinged on the west and is rising on the east. The rise is caused by a normal fault system that runs along the eastern base of the Sierra, below Mount Whitney. Thus, the granite that forms Mount Whitney is the same as the granite that forms the Alabama Hills, thousands of feet lower down; the raising of Whitney is due to the same geological forces that cause the Basin and Range Province: the crust of much of the intermontane west is being stretched.
The granite that forms Mount Whitney is part of the Sierra Nevada batholith. In Cretaceous time, masses of molten rock that originated from subduction rose underneath what is now Whitney and solidified underground to form large expanses of granite. In the last 2 to 10 million years, the Sierra was pushed up which enabled glacial and river erosion to strip the upper layers of rock to reveal the resistant granite that makes up Mount Whitney today. In July 1864, the members of the California Geological Survey named the peak after Josiah Whitney, the State Geologist of California and benefactor of the survey. During the same expedition, geologist Clarence King attempted to climb Whitney from its west side, but stopped just short. In 1871, King returned to climb what he believed to be Whitney, but having taken a different approach, he summited nearby Mount Langley. Upon learning of his mistake in 1873, King completed his own first ascent of Whitney, but did so a month too late to claim the first recorded ascent.
Just a month earlier, on August 18, 1873, Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, John Lucas, all of nearby Lone Pine, had become the first to reach the highest summit in the contiguous United States; as they climbed the mountain during a fishing trip to nearby Kern Canyon, they called the mountain Fisherman's Peak. In 1881 Samuel Pierpont Langley, founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory remained for some time on the summit, making daily observations on the solar heat. Accompanying Langley in 1881 was another party consisting of Judge William B. Wallace of Visalia, W. A. Wright and Reverend Frederick Wales. Wallace wrote in his memoirs that "The Pi Ute Indians called Mt. Whitney "Too-man-i-goo-yah," which means "the old man." They believe that the Great Spirit who presides over the destiny of their people once had his home in that mountain." The spelling Too-man-i-goo-yah is a transliteration from the indigenous Paiute Mono language. Other variations are Tumanguya. In 1891, the United States Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names decided to recognize the earlier name Mount Whitney.
Despite losing out on their preferred name, residents of Lone Pine financed the first trail to the summit, engineered by Gustave Marsh, completed on July 22, 1904. Just four days the new trail enabled the first recorded death on Whitney. Having hiked the trail, U. S. Bureau of Fisheries employee Byrd Surby was struck and killed by lightning while eating lunch