Spread over some 3.9 million square miles, Canada is the second largest country on the planet. It famously stretches “Mari Usque ad Mare” or “from sea to sea”, this actually encompassing three seas, the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic. And within the borders of this huge nation, some 873,000 square miles is mountainous.
The mountains of Canada are spread over an astonishing variety of mountain ranges. Some of the most prominent are the Canadian Rockies, the Mackenzie Mountains and the Coast Mountains. As for the highest mountains in Canada, the top 18 are all part of the Yukon’s Saint Elias Mountains. In fact, the first outside this range is Mount Waddington of the Coastal Range at 13,045 feet.
So, let’s take a “peak” at these natural wonders, starting with the biggest mountain in Canada, Mount Logan.
1. Mount Logan
Height: 19,551 feet
Canada’s highest peak is one of the coldest and most remote places on the planet, but Mount Logan is also considered one of its grandest mountains. This is thanks in large part to its enormous base circumference, possibly the largest of any non-volcanic mountain on Earth.
From this massive foundation, Mount Logan rises to 19,551 feet, reaching a plateau with 12 peaks. This makes Mount Logan both the tallest mountain in Canada and second tallest on the continent of North America. What’s more, tectonic activity is ongoing, meaning it continues to grow approximately 0.35 mm per year.
The home of this majestic mountain is in the heart of the Kluane National Park and Reserve, on the southwest edge of the Yukon. The weather here is extreme, with low temperatures creating vast glaciers. As for the temperature at the highest point in Canada, even in the summer, the average remains below zero.
2. Mount Saint Elias
Height: 18,008 feet
Giving its name to the mountain range it shares with Mount Logan, Mount Saint Elias is the second tallest mountain in Canada at 18,008 feet. It’s also the second tallest in the US, straddling as it does the border between Yukon and Alaska.
In 1897, an expedition led by Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi was recorded as the first ascent of the mountain. However, the “Big Mountain”, as it is sometimes known by the indigenous Tlingit people, does not present a welcoming climb. Not only is it renowned to be extremely steep, but also unpredictable.
3. Mount Lucania
Height: 17,145 feet
It was the Duke of the Abruzzi who named the third tallest mountain in Canada. He did so on 31 July 1897, while standing atop Mount Saint Elias. Spotting the peak, he called it after the ship that had brought him part way there, the RMS Lucania.
It would not be until 1937 that Bradford Washburn and Robert Hicks Bates would complete the first recorded successful ascent to the 17,145-foot high summit. Washburn described the undertaking as having “loomed as one of the most difficult and involved mountaineering problems in North America”.
It’s worth noting that some consider Luciana to be the second rather than third in the list of highest mountains in Canada, given that Mount Saint Elias is not an exclusively Canadian mountain.
4. King Peak (Yukon)
Height: 16,972 feet
Just ten miles away from Mount Logan is a majestic mountain with a name to match. King Peak is considered a satellite of Logan and, despite being over 2500 feet shorter than the biggest mountain in Canada, is said to be the harder climb. Sometimes known as Mount King, at 16,972 feet it is the fourth highest point in Canada.
5. Mount Steele
Height: 16,470 (±60) feet
Connected to Mount Luciana by a long ridge is Mount Steele. Some sources list the height of this peak as 16,644 feet, in accordance with a measurement taken in 1913. If correct, this would make it North America’s tenth highest mountain. However, this is now considered unconfirmed and an exact height is yet to be established.
As a result, the height is usually listed as within 60 feet of 16,470. The lower end of this scale would drop Mount Steele to number 11 on the continental list, but whatever the case, it is the fifth tallest mountain in Canada. It takes its name from the head of the Yukon police detachment during the Klondike Gold Rush, Sir Sam Steele.
Canada's Highest Peaks
With our expedition into the world of the highest mountains in Canada at an end, it’s clear that the world’s second largest country is home to some of its most spectacular summits, as well as some of its most extreme.