Cover image for To the top of Denali : climbing adventures on North America's highest peak
To the top of Denali : climbing adventures on North America's highest peak
Sherwonit, Bill, 1950-
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Portland, OR : Alaska Northwest Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvi, 368 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Anchorage : Alaska Northwest Books, c1990.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV199.42.A42 M3256 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Bill Sherwonit brings to life the adventure, heroism, triumph, and tragedy of climbing North America's highest peak, Denali. He offers great insight and tales of daring adventure for both experienced climbers and armchair explorers who wonder why people climb mountains. The book contains stores about some of the best known personalities associated with the mountain --- from Bradford Washburn to Vern Tejas.

Author Notes

Bill Sherwonit reached the summit of Denali in 1987 while a reporter for The Anchorage Times. He considers this accomplishment a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A freelance writer and photographer since 1992, Sherwonit has contributed to a wide range of national publications. He also compiled and edited the climbing anthology Alaska Ascents: World-Class Mountaineers Tell Their Stories. Bill has lived in Alaska since 1982.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Journalist and mountain climber Sherwonit chronicles the milestone climbs of Alaska's Mt. McKinley (aka Denali), the highest peak in North America. These marvelous stories, including the 1910 Sourdough Expedition, Stuck's 1913 ascent, the first winter climb, and the first solo climb, demonstrate the risks and challenges of this 20,320-foot peak: 150 mph winds, storms, whiteouts, huge hidden crevasses, avalanches, -148 degree cold, and thin air that may require five breaths for every step. Advances in gear, climbing techniques, and medicine have made the mountain more accessible than in pioneer days. Still, achieving the summit of Denali is a magnificent adventure and challenge and is never guaranteed (61 have died since 1903). Although challenges remain on the mountain's unclimbed faces, Sherwonit's narrative underscores what may be the bigger challenges of the 1990s: how to share nature's bounty with the increasing number of climbers--without trashing the mountain--and how the National Park Service should regulate garbage, sanitation, and mountaineering safety. The ultimate question "Why do you climb?" may become "How do you climb?" An engaging and informative read. Notes, glossary, list of climbing services, bibliography; index. --Bob ~McCray

Library Journal Review

Aptly nicknamed ``the great one'' (Denali) by Alaskan natives, mighty Mt. McKinley and the mountaineers it has inspired are the subjects of this chronicle. A dozen climbs significant in Denali's history are described, as well as one typical of those experienced by average adventure climbers. Sherwonit, an outdoors writer based in Anchorage, presents all sides of the controversies provoked by the climbs and by National Park Service policies on use of Denali. The final chapters on the special problems that affect Denali's future--rescue of incompetent or injured climbers, sanitation and trash, how many and what kind of guide services--discuss topics unfamiliar to conservationists in the ``lower 48.'' Recommended. --Paula M. Strain, M.L.S., Rockville, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Carefully working their way along the ridge crest, the men noticed a strong breeze coming up the south face. Finally they came to an aluminum pole, sticking out of the ice. A moment passed before they realized the pole marked McKinley's summit. Davidson, Johnston, and Genet grabbed each other in a three-way hug, shouted, and slapped each other's shoulders in celebration. They'd made it; the first men to stand on North America's top in winter.   ---First Winter Ascent, Page 158 Excerpted from To the Top of Denali: Climbing Adventures on North America's Highest Peak by Bill Sherwonit All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Art Davidson
Forwordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Chapter 1 The Mountainp. 1
Chapter 2 The Pioneersp. 7
Chapter 3 The Sourdough Expedition, 1910p. 25
Chapter 4 Hudson Stuck and the First Ascent, 1913p. 41
Chapter 5 The 1932 Expeditions: Carpe and Lindley-Liekp. 61
Chapter 6 Bradford Washburn and the West Buttressp. 81
Chapter 7 Cassin's conquest of the South Face, 1961p. 125
Chapter 8 The First Winter Ascent, 1967p. 137
Chapter 9 The Wilcox Expedition Disaster, 1967p. 173
Chapter 10 Winter Solo Ascents: Waterman, Uemura, and Johnstonp. 207
Chapter 11 Winter Solo Ascents: Tejas and Staehelip. 233
Chapter 12 The Deadliest Season, 1992p. 271
Chapter 13 Climber Self-Sufficiency and Rescuesp. 287
Chapter 14 Mountain of Trashp. 307
Chapter 15 Guiding on McKinleyp. 321
Chapter 16 Looking to the Futurep. 339
Notesp. 344
Glossaryp. 352
Alaska Climbers Hall of Famep. 355
Mount McKinley Firstsp. 356
Winter Ascents of Mount McKinley Through 1999p. 357
Denali National Park and Preserve Climbing Servicesp. 358
Bibliographyp. 360
Indexp. 363