Celebrating Denali Centennial


Sheet metal crampons used on 1910 Denali expedition

Galvanized sheet metal "crampons" used by the 1910 Sourdough Expedition on Denali. Courtesy Denali National Park and Preserve, DENA 1636

Today, June 7, is the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Denali, North America's highest peak. On this day, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens, Hudson Stuck, and Robert Tatum climbed to the 20,320-foot south peak after an expedition of two and a half months.

In commemoration of the centennial, the American Alpine Club has prepared a remarkable online exhibit of photographs, artifacts, and stories from the first ascent. Curated and written by Jonathan Waterman, author of four books on Denali, the exhibit tells the story of Frederick Cook's bogus claim for the first ascent, the Sourdough Expedition's climb of Denali's north peak in 1910, and the successful ascent of the main peak in 1913.  There's also a large supplemental gallery of photos, paintings, diary entries, and other artifacts, bringing to life a time when mountaineering was a far more primitive endeavor than today—and when Denali was a much wilder peak. Follow this link to see the full exhibit: explore.americanalpineclub.org.

Also commemorating the 100th anniversary on Denali is a unique expedition on the mountain slated to begin today. Dana Wright, Ray Schuenemann, Daniel Hopkins, Ken Karstens, Samuel Alexander, and Sam Tatum are descendants of the first-ascent team and will attempt to climb the same route as the 1913 team, up the Muldrow Glacier and Karstens Ridge on  the peak's north side.

“It’s an honor to represent my family’s past accomplishment during this climb,” said Dana Wright, great-grandnephew of Walter Harper, a native Athabascan who was the first man to summit Denali. “It is an opportunity to be a role model and show the youth, especially in Alaska, that young people are out doing amazing things.“

Date of anniversary: June 7, 2013

Sources: American Alpine Club, Denali2013.org


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