American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Ascent of Mt. McKinley, 1948

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Ascent of McKinley, 1948. On 13 July 1948 five students from the University of Alaska, led by Walter Gonnason, climbed the S. peak of Mt. McKinley. They left Fairbanks or McKinley Park Station (the account is not clear) on June 18th, crossed to the Muldrow Glacier in five days, and by July 1st were firmly established at 11,000 ft. Deep snow hampered the party on Karstens Ridge, and a severe storm with high winds and low temperature buffeted them near Browne Tower. A final camp was made at Denali Pass at 18,150 ft. From here the party made the ascent on July 13th. The temperature on the summit was recorded as 21° below zero, and the wind was estimated at 40 miles an hour.

It is worth noting that this party benefited from equipment cached at McGonagall Pass and Denali Pass by the Boston Museum expedition of 1947, for the stoves of the Gonnason party would not operate at 18,000 ft. Two Fahrenheit thermometers left in 1947 were examined. The one at McGonagall Pass, well covered by snow, recorded a minimum of 29.5° below zero, while the one at Denali Pass had reached 67° below zero.†

1See B. G. Ferris, Jr., “A New Ascent in the Hayes Range,” A.A.J., IV (1942), 335-40, and ‘‘In Memoriam: William Shand, Jr.,” A.A.J., VI (1947), 423-4-

*See Bradford Washburn, “Operation White Tower,” A.A.J., Vll (April 1948), 40-58. Results of this successful cosmic-ray study appear likely to lead to further observations in the same area.

†Cf. A.A.J., VII (April 1948), 48 n. and 57 n.

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