Pioneer Mountaineering Featured in Denali's 90th Anniversary Speaker Series

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Date: July 11, 2007
Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583

The history of exploration in and around Denali is a rich and sometimes controversial subject. Dr. Mike Sfraga, mountaineer and founding Director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geography Program, will present a program on “Denali Mountaineering: The Pioneering Days” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 in the Denali Visitor Center, located at Mile 1.2 on the Denali Park Road. In his presentation Sfraga will explore the region’s rich mountaineering history, including the turn-of-the century pioneering expeditions, Denali’s role as a research platform throughout World War II and the Cold War, and the early explorers who opened up the mountain for today’s mountaineers.

Sfraga is a member of the Explorers Club, American Alpine Club, and the past Executive Secretary of the Arctic Institute of North America. He received his Ph.D. in Geography and Northern Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1997, the first such degree to be granted by the University of Alaska system. He is currently the Chairman of the Denali Education Center, and serves on several community and national boards, including the Alaska Natural History Association, Cold Climate Housing, and the Institute of the North.

He is the author of “Bradford Washburn: A Life of Exploration”, the first comprehensive biography of this celebrated American explorer. The book had its beginnings as Sfraga’s dissertation, which he re-wrote over the course of a year to highlight Washburn’s contributions to science instead of the mountaineering accomplishments upon which other biographies of Washburn have focused.

Sfraga’s book will be available for sale and signing by the author at the Denali Bookstore following the presentation.

This presentation is the fifth in the special 90th Anniversary Summer Speaker Series, which is featuring seven Alaskan authors who have written about Denali’s cultural heritage and natural history from a variety of viewpoints. The presentations take place approximately every two weeks and are free of charge. The schedule is available on the park’s website at, along with additional information on the park’s anniversary.

General information on the park and other activities is also available on the web site, or by calling the park headquarters at (907) 683-2294 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily.


Last updated: April 14, 2015

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