The People who Successfully Scaled Mount McKinley – A Compilation

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By Caroline Lascom

Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, is the highest peak in North America and one of the most challenging mountains to climb. Over the years, many brave and adventurous individuals have set out to conquer this mighty mountain, each with their own unique story and motivations.

One of the most notable climbers of Mount McKinley is Bradford Washburn, an American explorer and photographer. In 1951, Washburn led the first successful ascent of the West Buttress route, which has since become the most popular and safest route to the summit. His pioneering climb opened up Mount McKinley to a new generation of climbers.

Another famous climber who has conquered Mount McKinley is Arlene Blum, an American mountaineer and environmental scientist. In 1970, Blum led an all-female team to successfully summit the mountain, breaking down gender barriers in the mountaineering world. Her achievement paved the way for more women to take on the challenge of climbing Mount McKinley.

In recent years, there have been several record-breaking ascents of Mount McKinley. In 2013, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki became the first person to reach the summit in the autumn season, braving harsh weather conditions. And in 2015, Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards, a professional mountaineering team, made history by live-streaming their climb to the summit, sharing the experience with millions of people around the world.

These are just a few examples of the many incredible individuals who have climbed Mount McKinley. Each climber brings their own unique skills, determination, and passion to the challenge, making their ascent a personal triumph and a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

Famous Climbers of Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, has attracted numerous adventurers and climbers from around the world. Here are some of the famous climbers who have conquered the peak:

1. Walter Harper: In 1913, Walter Harper became the first person to officially reach the summit of Mount McKinley. He was a member of a team led by Hudson Stuck, a prominent missionary and explorer.

2. Bradford Washburn: Considered one of the greatest mountaineers of the 20th century, Bradford Washburn made significant contributions to the exploration of Mount McKinley. He completed the first ascent of the West Buttress route in 1951 and later became the director of the Boston Museum of Science.

3. Dave Johnston: A renowned American mountaineer, Dave Johnston made history in 1963 when he led the first successful ascent of Mount McKinley’s south face. This route was considered one of the most difficult and dangerous at the time.

4. Barbara Washburn: Barbara Washburn, wife of Bradford Washburn, joined her husband on several expeditions to Mount McKinley. In 1947, she became the first woman to reach the summit, making her a trailblazer for female climbers.

5. Riccardo Cassin: Riccardo Cassin, an Italian mountaineer, achieved a remarkable feat in 1961 when he led a team to make the first ascent of Mount McKinley’s Cassin Ridge. This route is known for its technical difficulty and exposed terrain.

These are just a few of the many famous climbers who have tested their skills and endurance on Mount McKinley. Each ascent represents an incredible feat of human determination and a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty of this majestic peak.

Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner is an Italian mountaineer known for his remarkable achievements on Mount McKinley. Born on September 17, 1944, Messner has made multiple successful climbs on the mountain throughout his career.

Messner first climbed Mount McKinley in 1973, reaching the summit via the West Buttress route. This ascent marked the beginning of his impressive mountaineering resume. He would go on to make several more ascents on the mountain, pushing himself to new limits with each climb.

Messner’s most notable climb on Mount McKinley took place in 1980. During this expedition, he made a solo ascent of the mountain without the use of supplemental oxygen. This accomplishment solidified his reputation as one of the greatest mountaineers in history.

In addition to his climbs on Mount McKinley, Messner has also tackled other challenging peaks around the world. He is known for his bold, self-supported style of climbing and has completed numerous first ascents in the Himalayas and the Karakoram range.

Reinhold Messner’s passion for mountaineering and his remarkable achievements on Mount McKinley have made him a legend in the climbing community. His determination, skill, and pioneering spirit continue to inspire climbers around the world.

Alpine Club of Canada

The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is a national organization founded in 1906 to promote the exploration and preservation of the Canadian Rockies and other mountain ranges in Canada. The club is a community of outdoor enthusiasts who share a passion for mountaineering, climbing, and other alpine activities.

Mount McKinley has attracted many members of the Alpine Club of Canada who have successfully completed climbs on its treacherous slopes. These members are experienced and skilled climbers who have trained extensively and have the necessary equipment to tackle the challenges that the mountain presents.

The ACC has a long and proud history of supporting its members in pursuing their mountaineering goals. The club provides resources such as training courses, guidebooks, and access to experienced climbers who can offer advice and guidance. Members also have the opportunity to participate in organized expeditions to various mountains, including Mount McKinley.

Being a member of the Alpine Club of Canada not only provides access to valuable resources but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and connection among climbers. The club organizes social events, gatherings, and conferences where members can share their experiences, learn from each other, and form lasting friendships.

As part of its commitment to environmental preservation, the ACC has also played a significant role in advocating for responsible climbing practices. The club encourages climbers to respect the fragile ecosystems and wildlife that exist in the mountain ranges, including Mount McKinley.

In conclusion, the Alpine Club of Canada is a prominent organization that attracts many skilled climbers who have successfully climbed Mount McKinley. Through its resources and community, the club supports and enhances the mountaineering experience for its members.

John Waterman

John Waterman was an American mountaineer who attempted to climb Mount McKinley solo in 1981. His expedition became a legendary story of survival and tragedy.

Waterman was an experienced climber, known for pushing his limits in challenging terrains. He decided to test himself by attempting a solo climb of Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, the highest peak in North America. His goal was to reach the summit without any assistance.

Waterman began his ascent in April 1981, battling extreme weather conditions and the technical challenges of the mountain. Despite facing numerous setbacks and equipment failures, he managed to reach a height of around 17,000 feet.

However, disaster struck when Waterman became trapped in a severe storm for several days. He ran out of food and fuel, and the harsh conditions took a toll on his mental and physical well-being. Ultimately, he was unable to continue his climb and was forced to descend.

Rescuers made an attempt to save Waterman, but they were unable to locate him due to the extreme weather. Tragically, he died on the mountain, marking one of the darkest chapters in the climbing history of Mount McKinley.

Waterman’s story is a reminder of the immense challenges and dangers associated with climbing Mount McKinley. It serves as a cautionary tale for mountaineers, highlighting the importance of adequate preparation, experience, and caution when attempting such ambitious expeditions.

Bill Babcock

Bill Babcock is a renowned mountaineer and photographer who has successfully climbed Mount McKinley multiple times. He first attempted the climb in 1984 and was successful in reaching the summit. Since then, he has made several more ascents of the mountain, each time capturing breathtaking photographs of the surrounding scenery.

Babcock is known for his meticulous planning and preparation before each climb. He carefully studies the route, weather conditions, and avalanche risks to ensure a safe and successful ascent. His experience and expertise have earned him a reputation as one of the most skilled climbers on Mount McKinley.

In addition to his climbing expeditions, Babcock also conducts workshops and lectures on mountaineering and photography. He shares his knowledge and experiences with aspiring climbers and photographers, inspiring them to pursue their passions and explore the great outdoors.

Throughout his climbing career, Babcock has faced many challenges and risks on Mount McKinley. He has encountered extreme weather conditions, treacherous terrain, and altitude sickness. However, his determination and love for the mountains have always pushed him forward, allowing him to conquer the summit time and time again.

Bill Babcock’s dedication and accomplishments have made him a respected figure in the climbing community. His photographs of Mount McKinley and the surrounding wilderness have been published in numerous magazines and books, showcasing the beauty and grandeur of the mountain to a wider audience.

Overall, Bill Babcock’s passion for mountaineering and photography has allowed him to leave a lasting imprint on the legacy of Mount McKinley. His successful climbs and stunning photographs serve as a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the awe-inspiring power of nature.

Bradford Washburn

Bradford Washburn was an American mountaineer, aerial photographer, and cartographer who made significant contributions to the exploration of Mount McKinley (now known as Denali) in Alaska. Born on June 7, 1910, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Washburn developed a passion for mountains early in his life.

Washburn’s first expedition to Mount McKinley took place in 1936, where he worked as a cartographer and photographer. He later returned to the mountain in 1942, this time as a member of the US Army’s Aleutian Islands campaign during World War II. Washburn continued his exploration of Mount McKinley through various expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s.

One of Washburn’s most notable achievements was his discovery of a new route up Mount McKinley in 1951. This route, known as the West Buttress, is now the most popular route for climbers attempting to summit the mountain. Washburn’s detailed surveying and mapping of the region also contributed to the understanding of the mountain’s geography and the development of climbing routes.

In addition to his work on Mount McKinley, Washburn made numerous other notable climbs around the world, including the first ascent of Alaska’s Mount Lucania and Canada’s Mount Fairweather. He also served as the director of the Boston Museum of Science for over 40 years, where he continued his work in cartography and photography.

Bradford Washburn’s dedication to mountaineering and his contributions to the exploration of Mount McKinley have left a lasting impact on the sport of climbing. His detailed maps and photographs continue to aid climbers in their quests to conquer the highest peak in North America.

David Roberts

David Roberts is a renowned American mountaineer and author who has successfully climbed Mount McKinley. He first attempted the climb in 1975 and reached the summit on his second attempt in 1976, becoming one of the few people at the time to have completed the feat.

Roberts’ climb of Mount McKinley was particularly notable because he chose a less commonly climbed route known as the West Buttress. This route was considered more challenging and required advanced mountaineering skills. Despite the difficult conditions, Roberts and his team successfully reached the summit and safely descended.

As an accomplished writer, Roberts has documented his climbing experiences in various books and articles. His book “Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative” chronicles his climb of Mount Deborah, a neighboring peak to Mount McKinley. He has also written extensively about his experiences in Alaska and other remote wilderness areas.

David Roberts continues to be an influential figure in the world of mountaineering and exploration. His successful ascent of Mount McKinley showcases his skill, determination, and passion for adventure. He remains an inspiration to climbers around the world.


Expedition Denali · Discovery World

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Caroline Lascom

Caroline is a seasoned travel writer and editor, passionate about exploring the world. She currently edits captivating travel content at TravelAsker, having previously contributed her exceptional skills to well-known travel guidebooks like Frommer’s, Rough Guides, Footprint, and Fodor’s. Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Manchester University (UK) and a master's degree in literature from Northwestern University. Having traveled to 67 countries, her journeys have fueled her love for storytelling and sharing the world's wonders.

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