History was repeated last week when the Centennial Denali expedition reached the summit of North America’s highest peak. The summit team is made up of five men representing the first party to reach the summit of Denali as well as four guides from Alaska Mountaineering School.
Alaskan-born Dana Wright is a descendant of Walter Harper, the first man to set foot on the top of Denali. Dan Hopkins is the great-nephew of Hudson Stuck, and is the only member of the team, other than the guides, to have climbed the mountain before. Two team members, Ken Karstens and Ray Shuenemann (SHOE-neh-MUN), are descendants of Harry Karstens, and Sam Alexander of the Gwich’in Tribe represents John Dodson and Esias George, Alaska natives who were part of the expedition, but not the original summit team. Sam Tatum, descendant of Robert Tatum, is also part of the expedition, but was unable to complete the trip due to a foot injury. The Centennial group is joined by guides Hunter Dahlberg, Dustin English, Elliot Gaddy, and Paige Brady.
The team reached the summit on Friday, and they are currently descending the mountain. Unlike most climbers who fly in and out of base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier, the team is walking out of the Alaska Range. They will hike through twenty-two miles of tundra and cross two rivers on the way to the Park Road before being picked up. They currently estimate that they will reach the park entrance on Wednesday afternoon.