Mount McKinley, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
Credit: Paul Souders / Getty Images

The Alaskan wilderness is of a completely different scale than most places on earth. It's remote and sprawling, it's truly wild, it's populated by few humans but very many large, powerful animals (all of these are, of course, also why it's so appealing). Denali (a.k.a. Mount McKinley) is perhaps the perfect expression of it all. While there are extensive bus routes and comfort stations for casual hikes, to attempt the continent's highest peak requires an arduous journey hacking through the bush and then often treacherous winds and ice, the possibility of altitude sickness – the summit tops out above 20,000 feet – not to mention the possibility of encounters with Black and Grizzly bears and moose among others. Despite a banner year of successful climbs last year, typically just over 50 percent of aspiring climbers make it to the top on average, and more than 100 have died trying over the past century.