Denali Gets a New Name, Then Loses 10 Feet

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By Keith Wagstaff

First, Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, got a new name. Then it got a haircut.

New measurements show Denali officially stands at 20,310 feet, the United States Geological Survey announced on Wednesday. That is 10 feet shorter than the previously accepted elevation of 20,320 feet.

No, the highest peak in North America is not shrinking. Instead, the USGS blamed the discrepancy on the 1950s-era technology originally used to measure the mountain.

A team of GPS experts from the USGS and partner organizations reached Denali's peak in June and, after analyzing the data, they settled on 20,310 feet.

"It is inspiring to think we can measure this magnificent peak with such accuracy," Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director, said in a statement.

In 2013, a plane was used to take airborne radar measurements, which put the mountain at 20,237 feet. Ultimately, the USGS found the method to be imprecise and decided to climb the mountain to get a better reading.

Related: McKinley Out, Denali In: Highest Peak in North America Renamed

Now the approximately 1,200 mountaineers who attempt to climb Denali every year have an exact number to shoot for: 20,310 feet. Sadly, history shows that around half of them will fail to reach the peak.