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Item #: PL239
TO THE TOP OF THE CONTINENT: THE FIRST ASCENT OF MOUNT MCKINLEY 1903-1906. Frederick Cook Paperback
By Cook, Frederick A.
Price: $19.95


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1996, new edition. 368 pp, 18 historical, 20 color photos & ills. A reprint and analysis of one of the most controversial climbs in mountaineering. Cook claims to have made the first ascent of McKinley, and modern research attempts to substantiate him.

The introduction to this Anniversary Edition of To the Top of the Continent calls it a 'classic mountaineering book' by an author who may be the most controversial figure in the history of modern exploration, Frederick Albert Cook, M.D. (1865-1940).

In 1903 Dr. Cook was the first to circumnavigate the highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, a feat which was not repeated for 75 years.   He explored and named the largest glacier on the continent after his youngest daughter, Ruth.  In 1906 he led a second expedition to McKinley and announced that he and Edward Barrill had ascended the east ridge and reached the summit in September.

Three years later Cook returned from the Arctic and announced that he had reached the North Pole in April of 1908. 

Cook's claim to the McKinley climb had not been challenged until the great North Pole Controversy, and are thus entwined in the annals of bitter contention in the history of exploration and discovery.

This 90th Anniversary Edition includes an interpretive analysis of Cook's expeditions by the leader of the 1994 party which followed his route.   It also contains a transcription of the Cook and Barrill 1906 diaries with a historical account. Paperback.

Contains the official account of Cook's 1903 expedition that made the highest ascent up to that time and completed the first circumnavigation of the mountain. That feat was not repeated until 1978 by Galen Rowell, and the long circumnavigation was not duplicated until 1995. The next section contains Cook's 1906 expedition where he probed the southern approaches during the summer months. In September 1906, he made the first ascent of the Ruth Glacier with Ed Barrill, and claimed to have reached the summit (South Peak).

Three years later, during Robert Peary's dispute with Cook over the discovery of the North Pole, Barrill changed his story and signed an affidavit that he and Cook did not make the ascent in 1906. As a result, Cook's ascent was discredited for the next ninety years.

In 1989, while researching Peary's fraudulent North Pole claim, polar historian, Ted Heckathorn, discovered in Peary's personal papers the check that Peary and his associates used to bribe Barrill to make the 1909 affidavit.

In 1994, Heckathorn organized a team of leading mountaineers investigate Cook's 1906 route and the evidence presented by Cook's opponents.

The third part of the book reports the findings of the 1994 investigation and analyzes each of the charges made against Cook between 1909 and 1996. Also included is the excellent 1906 scientific report by Russell W. Porter that was not in the original edition. Porter determined that the peak was 20,310 feet high, remarkably close to the recent GPS findings of 20,308 feet. Most sources list Mount McKinley as 20,320 feet.

Other sections include transcription of both the Cook and Barrill 1906 diaries and an index that were not in the original edition.


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