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Great Elevation Gains

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Great Elevation Gains

Postby Marmaduke » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:23 am

I've read many books recently where the peaks have more than 12,000 feet of elevation gain, and some maybe even more. These peaks all in The Himalaya and the Karakoram. Does anyone know what the greatest gains are in the U.S.?
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:34 am

Denali? 13k from the Kahiltna Glacier to the summit.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby phlipdascrip » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:52 am

Not sure about the US but Mt Blanc from the Chamonix valley is quite exactly a 12,500ft difference. Speed record from Chamonix town center to the summit and back: 5h 10min!!
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby lefty » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:14 am

Telescope Peak from Shorty's well is about 11,300'.
Mt. San Jacinto via skyline trail is about 10,300'.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby ScottyP » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:54 am

Don't think you'll beat Denali in pure gain.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby Scott » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:56 am

Outside of AK, the Sierra Nevada has a lot of relief, but maybe not 12K unless you did some fancy measuring. It would really depend on where you measured from. Depending on where you measured from you could possibly stretch it to include a few of the Cascade volcanoes.

In Alaska, St. Elias, Sanford, Fairweather, and some of the big ones in the Alaska Range would be up there.

Don't think you'll beat Denali in pure gain.


What about St. Elias? It would give it more than fair competition.

St. Elias (18,008 feet/5489 meters) as seen from the ocean:

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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby Marmaduke » Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:33 am

St Elias is a stunningly beautiful mountain. After thinking about it, these books don't dwell on the elevation gain but it's mentioned. I think most of the references are actually from base camp not from the end of the road where they start their trek. But pretty amazing figures. Thanks.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby Cy Kaicener » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Here is a website that has many US peaks with maximum gain
http://www.angelfire.com/or/petermarsh/stsclimbs.htm
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:14 pm

Marmaduke wrote:I've read many books recently where the peaks have more than 12,000 feet of elevation gain, and some maybe even more. Does anyone know what the greatest gains are in the U.S.?

In order to identify which mountains in the US have the greatest amount of elevation gain in the US one must first determine where one starts measuring from. Of course using sea level is a fairly stable bench mark, however, many peaks are thousands of miles away the nearest ocean and rise from high plateaus. Is he OP asking which mountains require the largest elevation gain by the climber when starting from a normal trailhead or bascecamp? If so, not may peaks require more elevation than Denali which requires a minimum of 13k when dropped off by a ski plane on the glacier. Traveling by boat and hiking from the coast to climb Mt St Elias involves 18k elevation but do many climbers approach this way?
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby surgent » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:17 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:
Marmaduke wrote:I've read many books recently where the peaks have more than 12,000 feet of elevation gain, and some maybe even more. Does anyone know what the greatest gains are in the U.S.?

In order to identify which mountains in the US have the greatest amount of elevation gain in the US one must first determine where one starts measuring from. Of course using sea level is a fairly stable bench mark, however, many peaks are thousands of miles away the nearest ocean and rise from high plateaus. Is he OP asking which mountains require the largest elevation gain by the climber when starting from a normal trailhead or bascecamp? If so, not may peaks require more elevation than Denali which requires a minimum of 13k when dropped off by a ski plane on the glacier. Traveling by boat and hiking from the coast to climb Mt St Elias involves 18k elevation but do many climbers approach this way?


This is a good point. You could start farther away (lower down) to increase your gain if you so desired.

To have that kind of significant gain on a peak usually requires at least that much local prominence. Mount Rainier's usual routes require at least 8k-9k of gain, many of the Cascade Peaks require 5k - 9k also. It's not practical to build roads high up on these peaks. I cannot think of many peaks in the mainland USA that "require" 12k of gain (although some could be made that way by starting farther away).

However, Mauna Kea in Hawaii has been climbed from sea to summit somewhat often. That would entail c13,800 feet of gain. Some of the volcanoes in Mexico would rank up there too.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby asmrz » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:34 pm

In the Sierra, Mt Williamson via George Creek is somewhere between 11 and 11,500 feet of gain, depending how far you can get your 4x4 up the dirt track. In a 1970s article for Summit Magazine, Galen Rowell called it the longest ski descent in the lower US and, when in shape, one of the great ski runs of the world. It is a fantastic backcountry ski tour all the way to the summit and almost an endless ski down the George Creek back to the desert floor.
Last edited by asmrz on Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby Marmaduke » Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:44 pm

MY thinking was where the trailhead starts, the start of the climb. I know some peaks do not have a true trailhead at the start, so then where the road ends and the wilderness begins. Or like Denali, from the Kahiltna Glacier.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby kevin trieu » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:37 pm

a few years ago my friends and i were into the 10k' gain dayhikes in CA. a few have been mentioned. others include Keynot Peak from Saline Valley, White Mountain Peak from Owen Valley.
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Re: Great Elevation Gains

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:05 pm

By any measure Denali has the greatest elevation gain of any mountain in the Unites States.
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