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Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
DENALI PARK, Alaska: On Friday, June 21 mountaineer Brian Okonek will speak about Belmore Browne and the 1912 Parker-Browne Expedition on Mt. McKinley in the second of the Denali 1913 Centennial Speaker Series. This special series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first summit of Mt. McKinley features presentations by Alaskan mountaineers and historians on significant Denali mountaineering accomplishments. The illustrated talks are taking place in the Denali Visitor Center's Karstens Theater and are free of charge. All of the presentations begin at 7:00 pm.
Alaska Denali Guides co-founder Okonek's presentation is based on his years of research on artist and adventurer Belmore Brown, who in 1912 undertook a remarkable expedition into the Alaska Range on a quest to be the first to reach the south summit of Denali.He and other expedition members Professor Herschel Parker, Arthur Aten, and Merl LaVoy began their journey in the winter traveling by dog sled from Seward.In late June they got to within 125feet of the 20,320 foot summit before they were turned back by extreme winds. Okonek's talk includes images of black and white photographs that were hand-colored and used to illustrate the lectures Browne delivered across the country.
Okonek made his first expedition to Denali while a junior in high school. His long career in Alaska mountaineering includes a number of notable first ascents and the development of a successful mountain guiding business in Talkeetna. He has led 35 expeditions on Denali.
Friday, July 12 - Retired National Park Service cultural anthropologist Jane Bryant will introduce a 40-minute narrated film of the 1932 Lindley-Liek Expedition, who accomplished the first summit of the south peak since the 1913 Stuck-Karstens Expedition. The film contains the first filmed footage of a Mt. McKinley climb, and features expedition members Park Superintendent Harry Liek, Park Ranger Grant Pearson, climb organizer Alfred Lindley, and ski enthusiast Erling Strom.
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. He, Art Davidson, and Ray Genet battled high winds, massive snowfall, and brutal temperatures to reach the summit. On the descent they endured additional hardships, as a storm with calculated wind-chill temperatures of -148 degrees kept the team trapped in an ice cave for six days.
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".
The speaker series schedule and information about other components of the 1913 Centennial Celebration are on the park's website at www.nps.gov/dena.
Additional park information is also available on the web at www.nps.gov/dena or by calling 907-683-9532 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. Stay connected with "DenaliNPS" on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes – links to these social media sites are available at www.nps.gov/dena/connect.htm.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.