Denali: First Ascent by a Man of God
By Todd Jenner
In 1913, a missionary in Alaska named Hudson Stuck – a man of God – pioneered a route to make the first ascent of Denali. During those gold-rush times, he commented: “I would rather climb that mountain than discover the richest gold-mine in Alaska.”¹
Get to the top he did, at the age of 50, and then he went on to say: “So soon as wind was recovered we shook hands all round and a brief prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God was said, that He granted us our hearts’ desire and brought us safely to the top of His great mountain.”²
He further states, “There was no pride of conquest, no trace of that exultation of victory some enjoy upon the first ascent of a lofty peak, no gloating over good fortune that had hoisted us few hundred feet higher than others who had struggled and been discomfited. Rather was the feeling that a privileged communion with the high places of the earth had been granted; ... seeing all things as they spread out from the windows of heaven itself.”³
He said far better than their scientific instruments to record and describe would be that simple ancient hymn “We praise Thee, O God! – Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy Glory!”
Most climbers would only be intensely interested in the true recording of history of the first ascent of this mountain and it just happens to have been done by a man of God who by his own admission “was more interested in men than mountains.” Denali is extremely rich in mountaineering history. And what a mission field – one where the very first man who led a team to the top was a man of God. This, the history, we have to share.
Hudson Stuck pioneered a route to the top of that mountain in 1913 and now you, too, are pioneering a route to also strive for a high and lofty goal. It is one I’m certain Hudson Stuck would approve of.
Todd Jenner, a Climbing For Christ board member who lives in Cameron, N.Y., retraced Stuck's route in 1994 when he was 50. They summitted on June 7, the anniversary date of Stuck's original climb. He also gathered his group together and said a prayer of thanksgiving on the summit.
¹ Stuck, Hudson, The Ascent of Denali: The 1913 Expedition that First Conquered Mt. McKinley (Wolfe Publishing Co., Inc., 1988), p. 3.
² Ibid, p. 99.
³ Ibid, p. 108.