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Item #: OP951-147
THE SOURDOUGH EXPEDITION: STORIES OF THE PIONEER ALASKANS WHO CLIMBED MOUNT MCKINLEY IN 1910 Terrence Cole 1985 1st ed Fine
By Cole, Terrence, Tom Lloyd, Billy Taylor, Peter Anderson, Charley McGonagall
Price: $145.00

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AK, Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1985, 1st edition. 64 pp, photos. Large softcover, the only edition, no hardcover was printed. The cover is slightly faded on one edge; the front edges and contents are all bright and Fine.

A splendid copy of a Denali book that is getting harder to find. The so-called Sourdough Expedition is really essential to a Mount McKinley collection. Most of this material is available nowhere else.This book, that is stapled rather than bound and looks like a magazine, was published by a company that put out dozens of books about Alaska, many directly aimed at the tourists who flock to Alaska and Denali Park in the summer. We actually sold copies of this title for its cover price of $6.95, as a new book in 1980s and 1990s.

This is the exciting story of the legendary Sourdough Expedition from Fairbanks who, on a bet, made the first verifiable ascent to the North summit of Denali, at 19,470 feet.  In 1909, these four Alaska residents, miners and non-climbers Tom Lloyd, Peter Anderson, Billy Taylor, and Charles McGonagall set out from Fairbanks, Alaska in late December 1909 with supplies, sleds and dogs that were in part paid for by bettors in a Fairbanks bar.

The story  is told through reprints of diaries, newspaper articles, interviews, and observations of later climbers. The book tells the tale of four Alaska sourdoughs - pioneer miners - who set out to climb Mount McKinley in 1909-1910.The higher summit was finally first reached on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went to the South Summit. The official altitude oif the higher summit recently lost 10 feet, and is now measured at 20,310 feet, 6,190m, not 20,320 feet,  6,194m, as measured in 1952 using photo-grammetry. GPS was used in 2015 to get the more accurate height.

''It all started with an Alaskan old-timer's barroom boast, but the 1910 Mount McKinley Sourdough Expedition was one of the greatest and most controversial feats in the history of mountaineering.'' 

In the spring of 1910 four Alaskan sourdough miners, who were not mountain climbers, set out to do what had never been done before; to stand on the summit of Mount McKinley, Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The skills needed to survive in an Alaskan winter were more important to the success of this team than knowing the techniques of climbing. This is often the case with large snow covered mountains. The skills needed to climb Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Elbrus and even Mount Everest are not the technical ones found in books. 

To succeed one needs to be very fit, and know how to stay fit while climbing at high altitude in a low oxygen and thin atmosphere, with extremely low temperatures, high winds, dehydration, difficult cooking and sleeping chores, are learned by doing, not by reading or even by taking instruction.

Tom Lloyd, Peter Anderson, Charley McGonagall and Billy Taylor tried to walk to the top of the mountain that was more than 20,000 feet high. Two of them made it to the summit of the North Peak, at 19,470 feet, where they planted a fourteen-foot spruce flagpole flying a large American flag.

The miners hoped that with a strong telescope, placed on the roof of the tallest building in Fairbanks, about 150 miles away, the flag and pole might be visible, proving once and for all that McKinley had been conquered.The text includes Tom Lloyd's day-to-day notes of the ascent, reprints of the newspaper articles about the expedition, and notes from an interview years later with Billy Taylor, the youngest of the group.

The book also includes many photographs from a 1947 expedition that followed the Sourdough's route up the mountain, with photo after photo showing details of the route.

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