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- Healthy Heroes
On June 7, 1913, the first men set foot on the roof of North America. Walter Harper, an Athabascan from Interior Alaska, became the first climber to reach the summit of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, the tallest point on the continent. Fellow climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens and Robert Tatum, closely followed him.
Harper was singled out for the honor of taking the first steps on the top because of his Native heritage. A ridge was later named for Karstens. Stuck wrote a book about the climb called “The Ascent of Denali.” Although officially called “McKinley” on maps, Alaskans commonly refer to the mountain as “Denali,” translated from local Native languages as “The High One.”
The expedition conquered the peak after a long approach from the north. Once climbed no one else made the ascent for nearly 20 years. Only when it was determined in 1951 the shorter way to the top was by another route did Mount McKinley begin to attract new attention. Fresh generations of mountaineers attempt McKinley every year, but the expedition led by Stuck and Karstens lives on in the hearts of climbers for its pioneering achievement.
– Lew Freedman
photo courtesy of Denali National Park and Preserve
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