AHS Blog

100 Years of Climbing Denali

Date Posted: June 5, 2013       Categories: 49 History

This Friday, June 7, marks the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Denali by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, Robert Tatum, and John Fredson. Alaskans will have several opportunities to commemorate the event and learn more about the historic expedition.

Karstens and Tatum descending Denali’s
Northeast Ridge. Photo courtesy NPS.

In partnership with the National Park Service, the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks is exhibiting “Denali Legacy: 100 Years On the Mountain.” More information available here.
Denali author Tom Walker’s new book, The Seventymile Kid: The Lost Legacy of Harry Karstens and the First Ascent of Mount McKinley, has been published just in time for the anniversary. Read more here. Although Stuck is often credited with having led the expedition, Walker notes that the indefatigable Karstens was the real driving force behind the team’s success.

Walker is also giving a lecture Friday night at 7:00pm at the Denali Visitor Center as part of the Park Service’s “1913 Centennial Speaker Series.” A book signing will follow the lecture. More info here.
Other presentations in the lecture series include:
Friday, June 21 – Alaska Denali Guiding co-founder and mountaineer Brian Okonek will speak about artist and adventurer Belmore Brown and the epic 1912 expedition into the Alaska Range Browne undertook with Professor Herschel Parker, Arthur Aten, and Merl LaVoy on a quest to be the first to reach the south summit.
Friday, July 12 – Retired National Park Service cultural anthropologist Jane Bryant will introduce a 40-minute narrated film of the 1932 Lindley-Liek Expedition that accomplished the first summit of the south peak since the 1913 Stuck-Karstens Expedition.
Friday, August 9 – Mountaineer and retired Denali State Park ranger Dave Johnston will do a slide presentation on his winter mountaineering experiences on Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker. Johnston made history by being part of the expedition to make the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley on February 28, 1967.
Friday, August 23 – Dr. Terrence Cole, Professor of History and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will speak about the Sourdough Expedition of 1910, which on April 3 became the first to reach the north peak of Mt. McKinley. This group of four gold miners challenged the peak with the most rudimentary gear and no technical climbing experience. They set out in order to disprove explorer Frederick Cook’s claim of reaching the summit in 1906 and demonstrate that Alaskans could outdo the exploits of any “easterners.”