Friday, June 1, 2012

Almost Reaching That Peak

A photograph of two men.
Browne (left) & Parker 1912
Belmore Browne was an explorer, artist and writer. Despite his contributions to these areas, he is perhaps most famous for his involvement in early attempts to summit Mt. McKinley. All three of the expeditions Browne was part of failed to reach the top - the last by mere yards.

In 1906, Browne was a member of Frederick Cook's expedition. Cook later claimed to have summited with another member of the expedition, but this was eventually proved false by photographs taken during Browne's second expedition - the Parker-Browne Expedition of 1910.  These photographs show that Cook's peak is actually a much lower peak several miles from the real summit.
A photograph of three men in front of the fake peak.
Cook's "Fake Peak" at left
showing its relative height to the
real peak (right arrow)
A photograph of a man in front of a snowy peak.
Browne Photographing the
"Fake Peak" during one of the
Parker-Browne Expeditions
The third expedition missed the top by yards.  Severe storms kept the party from the top, despite several attempts to reach it.  This may have been providential as the glacier the expedition members were camped on shattered only hours after they had started back down the mountain. The first true summit of Mt. McKinley was finally achieved by Stuck and Karstens in 1913.
A page of sketches showing a mouse. Two have watercolors added.
Page from Browne's
Stikine Trip Sketch Book, 1902

In addition to numerous photographs (prints, negatives, and lantern slides) of the various Mt. McKinley expeditions, Browne's papers contain his sketchbooks and diaries as well as scrapbooks and clippings.

Ask for Stef Mss 190. A paper guide to the collection is available in Rauner.

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