American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mt. McKinley Peak

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1946

Mt. McKinley Park. Parties travelling from the road near Wander Lake and crossing the McKinley Fork (draining Muldrow Glacier), and then crossing several headwaters of Clearwater Creek, finally turn up Newcomer Creek and cross a ridge at its head by a small pass to reach Muldrow Glacier about 25 miles above its snout. The name of this pass, according to Bradford Washburn who spent most of the winter of 1944-1945 in the McKinley region on work for the Army Air Forces, is commonly misspelled in a number of ways, but seldom spelled as the man for whom it was named spells his own name. Washburn writes: “I met and talked with Charles (Chuck) McGonagall in Fairbanks three weeks ago (end of May, 1945) and he wrote his name for mer (probably the only way I’ve never seen it spelled). McGonagall is hale and hearty at 75 and is still a close friend of Harry Karstens near whom he lives. He is a carpenter and Karstens is employed at Ladd Field.” Karstens made the first complete ascent of Mt. McKinley with Archdeacon Stuck in 1913.

Washburn also writes: “I had a splendid talk with Belmore Browne at Chip Lake on the way south. For a good many years I have not been able to picture clearly just how his party crossed the Alaska Range in the winter of 1912 on their way to McKinley. We took some pictures this spring and were able to identify his still unmapped valley and pass with pinpoint precision, using the pictures in his book. Belmore, of course, has a photographic memory and picked the valley out at once even before we had the book open.”

Browne’s party first worked out the route from the coast at the head of Cook Inlet by dog-sled in the years before 1912, and in that year crossed the range and found the route to the summit of Mt. McKinley (though failing twice in storm to reach the highest point by a few hundred feet of easy walking). This is the one and only route to the summit used by all parties to climb the mountain viz.: the Stuck-Karstens party in 1913 and the Liek-Lindley party in 1932 (only party to reach both peaks), and the U. S. Army equipment testing expedition in 1942, organized and led on the mountain by members of the American Alpine Club, seven of whom reached the summit.

H. S. H., Jr.

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