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Contact: Kris Fister
DENALI PARK, Alaska: This summer the National Park Service and park partner Alaska Geographic are hosting a special 1913 Centennial Speaker Series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first summit of Mt. McKinley. By reaching the summit of the highest peak in North America on June 7, 1913, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens, Hudson Stuck and Robert Tatum made history. One of the party, Harry Karstens, would continue to have an association with the mountain and the land around it by becoming the first Superintendent of the fledgling Mt. McKinley National Park in 1921.
This special series features presentations by five Alaskan mountaineers and historians on significant Denali mountaineering accomplishments. The illustrated talks will take place in the Denali Visitor Center's Karstens Theater and are free of charge. All of the presentations begin at 7:00 pm.
The series premieres on Friday, June 7, with an illustrated talk on the 1913 Ascent of Mt. McKinley given by award winning writer and photographer Tom Walker. His presentation will highlight the integral role co-leader Harry Karstens played in the expedition's success. Karstens and his participation in the climb is also the subject of Walker's newest book, The Seventymile Kid.This book will be available at a book signing immediately after the presentation.
Walker has resided in Alaska for nearly five decades, and is regarded as one of the state's premiere nature photographers. His publication credits include over a dozen books on Alaska wildlife, natural history, and Denali history (Kantishna - Mushers, Miners, Mountaineers and McKinley Station, The People of the Pioneer Park that Became Denali). His work has been published innumerous national and international publications.
Upcoming presentations in the series:
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.The expedition members, who began their journey from Seward traveling by dog sled, made it to within 125feet of the 20,320 foot summit before they were turned back by extreme winds.
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.