The Firsts of the Grand Summits: Denali & Everest

Denali and Everest have many things in common. Not only are the sizes of each mountain summit monstrous Denali (20,310ft) 6,190m and Everest (29,029ft) 8,848m but there are some interesting facts associated with the first mountaineers that successfully climbed them.

Hudson Stuck and Robert Tatum were missionaries that lived in the Alaska and was a part of the first team to successfully reach Denali's summit. What is little known is the story of Walter Harper, an Alaska native from the Athabascan tribe. Harper summited first followed by the two men. Harper attended the school of the two missionaries and later was accepted into medical school in Philadelphia. Tragically Harper and his new wife boarded the SS Princess Sophia and it ran into a storm on the way to Seattle, which ship wrecked killing all onboard.

Top: (LtoR) Hudson Stuck, Robert Tatum Botttom: (LtoR) Robert Tatum, Esaias George, Harry Karstens, John Fredson, and Walter Harper

When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Everest in 1953 they made a pack to not tell which man stepped on the summit first. "To a mountaineer, it's of no great consequence who actually sets foot first. Often the one who puts more into the climb steps back and lets his partner stand on top first." This pact stood until the publishing of Norgay's autobiography Tiger of the Snows which in it he claimed that Hillary summited first. Its a bit of a mystery. If you add Andrew Irvine and George Mallory to the mix we really don't know who was the first.

(LtoR) Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay

No matter who submitted first both Hudson Stuck and Edmund Hillary demonstrated humility. A very admirable trait in the mountaineering world.

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