MEMO from the publisher

July 13, 1958

One pretty sure way to beat the heat of summer is to climb Mount McKinley. For any but the most expert of mountaineers, however, it is not a recommended way. In this opinion Woodrow Wilson Sayre probably now concurs. Four years ago this month the grandson of the President whose name he bears set forth with four companions to assault North America's highest peak. His training was minimal for one of mountaineering's supreme challenges. But it was, to put it mildly, considerably advanced when the expedition returned, in slightly fortuitous triumph, 25 days later.

Next week in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Sayre writes his account of the climb, which increased to 56 the number of persons who had reached the summit.

If there is a mountain which demands to be climbed "because it's there," this one is it. The colossi of the Himalayas and Andes rise from plateaus already far above sea level. McKinley, as James Ramsey Ullman describes it in The Age of Mountaineering, "soars up in one gigantic, unbroken sweep of rock and ice to its full height—3½ miles straight up from base to peak."

Climatewise, McKinley is about as cold as it comes. The Stuck Expedition left a minimum-thermometer in 1913. Later found, it had dropped to its—95° limit—testimonial to the "icebox" part of what Seward was attacked for buying in 1867.

As a saga, McKinley has everything. For years Dr. Frederick Cook made a living by claiming to be its first conqueror. (But this was only a warmup for his later and just as fictional discovery of the North Pole.) A group of prospectors didn't believe him, and with a majestically unscientific approach tackled the mountain. Known to fame as the Sourdough Expedition, they more or less walked out of a Fairbanks saloon one day, marched up the mountain (by mistake reaching its north summit, 300 feet lower than the true summit), and then marched down again. Once more secure behind swinging doors, the team gave mainly the impression that it was a long time between drinks. During World War II the Army beat the mountain differently, almost by the numbers, and sent seven men to the top in one assault.

The expedition of which Sayre writes is somewhere between the Sourdoughs and the Army. Don't try doing it his way, but I think you'll enjoy reading about how he and his companions did it.


Eagle (-2)
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