Dora Keen

Dora Keen and George Handy on an iceberg
Dora Keen and George Handy on an iceberg


Quick Facts

In 1912, Dora Keen at 41 years of age was the first to climb 16,390 ft. (5 km) Mt. Blackburn. On a clear day in Kennecott, you can see the mountain that she conquered. Her expedition was attempted multiple times and eventually she made it with her future husband and hiking companion, George Handy. As a philanthropist and frequent alpinist, Keen was the first person to reach the summit, the first expedition to use dogs on a mountain, the first to succeed without Swiss guides, the first to camp in snow caves, and the first to make a prolonged night ascent. The twenty-seven-mile long Kennicott Glacier begins at Mount Blackburn and ends near present day McCarthy, with the Kennecott Mines NHL along its eastern edge.

After her ascent, she said, “That I was only five feet tall would matter very little. Success would depend rather upon judgement, endurance, courage, and organization…I was going again because I had need of courage and inspiration and because on the high mountains I find them as nowhere else.”

Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Last updated: July 28, 2020