Just a little off the top: Denali gets shorter

In a recent scientific survey, North America’s tallest peak loses elevation — again.

Thanks a lot, science: For the second time in recent decades, a new survey from the U.S.G.S. recalculated the height of Denali (Mt. McKinley to cheechako blasphemers) and found North America’s tallest peak 83 feet shorter than previously thought. The new height of 20,237 might put a little spring in aspiring climbers’ step this year – but it also puts the peak closer to Canada’s 19,550-foot Mt. Logan, which is just embarrassing.

The new height discovery came from a $23.5 million state and federal effort to create digital elevation models for the entirety of Alaska. Expected to reach completion in 2016, the survey has an upside: According to Alaska’s lieutenant governor Mead Treadwell, they’re also discovering mountains and ridges heretofore unknown to man:

The 2012 revision of 20,327 feet was recorded with radar technology deployed as a result of Alaska's Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative (SDMI), which also revealed that an entire ridgeline of Mt. Dickey in Denali National Park was missing from previous maps — one of many discrepancies corrected by recent map updates.

"The State of Alaska invested $9.59 million in SDMI since 2010, and the federal government has invested $14 million toward the overall cost of creating a digital elevation model for Alaska. The initiative, nearly 50% complete, is on schedule for statewide completion by 2016."

The Great One gets shorter, but we learn about mountains and routes we’ve never even heard of before. Seems like a fair tradeoff. Carry on, science.