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Following the Trasec of Dr. CookChronicle RouteDmitry Shparo narratesResults new!
Russian ver.• Contact usHome pageGallery new!


The article of Dmitry Shparo was published in the September issue, 2005,
of the Vokrug Sveta magazine.

Americans are proud of Mt. McKinley, they say: "Our Mountain". But they say this only now, when the commanding eminence of the North America has become well-known and popular over the world. Just one and a half century ago only aboriginals knew about the existence of the transcendental silvery cap, which arouse superstitious horror in them. Today the Mountain has gained its fame. Everybody who has managed to overcome the route from its foot to the summit can award oneself in one's mind with an unusual V-sign "I have been at McKinley".

It seems that everything is known about McKinley. We know the names of the youngest and the oldest winners of the altitude, the dates of the first airplane landing on the glaciers and the first ascent with dog sleds. Only one thing remains unclear – who was the first conqueror of the legendary summit?

The President's Peak

Mt. McKinley is located almost at the centre-point of Alaska, in the middle of a magnificent mountain range. It was when Alaska was part of Russia that Russians became the first white people, who caught sight of McKinley. The Governor of Russian America, an outstanding navigator and scientist Ferdinand Petrovitch Wrangell, charted the peak on the geographical map. In 1896 a young gold-prospector William Dickey announced to the world about the existence of the highest mountain in America – more than 6,000 metres. Dickey suggested to name the mountain in honour of William McKinley, who had recently been elected President. Then the driving goal became the first ascent on this transcendental mountain, located close to the Polar Circle. In September 1905 Frederick Albert Cook, a forty years old polar explorer, announced about his victory over the summit. The first newspapers reports cited his telegram: "We have reached the summit of Mount McKinley by a new route from the North…" But soon the first sensation was followed by the other – Dr. Cook had told a falsehood to Americans, and the Mt. McKinley remained unconquered.

In 1913 the Reverend Hudson Stuck carried out a successful ascent of the mountain. And it was he, who received an official title of the first pioneer discover. The next expedition up the mountain in 1932 ended tragically. The names of its two participants established the existence of the Passional, which is increased by the "mountain – killer" actually every year. Mountaineers die as a result of extreme cold, lack of oxygen; they fall in bottomless abysses or glacier crevasses.

In 2002 the unique expedition of a young Russian Matvey Shparo, made a successful ascent to the summit of McKinley. The team consisted of eleven participants, including two disabled sportsmen in wheel chairs, adjusted to skis. The greatest possible mountaineering achievement is to make an ascent on McKinley in winter, when the temperatures drop to -60°C. For Naomi Uemura, a famous Japanese explorer, his winter ascent ended tragically – he had perished. In January 1998 the two Russians: Artur Testov and Vladimir Ananych reached the summit of McKinley and safely returned back. The names of these and other courageous explorers are well known and remembered in Alaska, the name of Dr. Frederick Cook, almost forgotten. In the meantime his mystery still remains unsolved. Had Dr. Cook reached the summit of McKinley? And if not – what drove a professional doctor, an experienced explorer, a renowned traveler, valuing his reputation, to risk all with a false claim?

The first polar lessons

Doctor Frederick Cook was born in 1865. His father was a German doctor Theodore Cox (Dr. Cook later Americanized his surname). Frederick followed in his father's footsteps. After graduating from the college he became a medical GP (general practitioner) in New York. But in 1891 Dr. Cook's life changed dramatically and he joined the North Greenland expedition organized by Robert Peary.

The first portion of glory was gained by ambitious Peary just during this expedition. He became the second person to cross Greenland after the famous explorer Fridtjof Nansen. But if it were not for Frederick Cook this might not have happened. On board ship en route to the north Peary broke his leg and then he wrote in his diary: "My complete recovery was soon achieved thanks to professional skills of my doctor Cook… The fact, that less then in ten months… I was able to undertake and to carry out this 1,200-mile ski journey without any serious consequences witnesses the professional skills of Dr. Cook". This was the start of a close friendship between Peary and Dr. Cook. Certainly Peary was very fortunate to have had Dr. Cook with him on his expedition, as every expedition should be lucky enough to have such an experienced, self-confident doctor.

During the Greenland Expedition Dr. Cook not only provided medical service, but he also participated in the boat and ski trips. He was responsible to contact with the Eskimo people and to carry out scientific ethnographic work. As a young explorer, Dr. Cook had the opportunity to learn both from the local people and his expedition colleagues. And he made the best of these opportunities. Years passed and it had become evident that he could easily spoke the Eskimo language. It was nonrandom that a famous French ethnographer Jean Malaurie cited the following words of the Greenland Eskimos: "Doctor Cook was driving the dogs as an Eskimo man". This is very high praise as it is generally recognized that a white man could never compare with the driving skills of an Eskimo dog team driver.

Commander Peary had to choose his companions for an unprecedented sledge route across the Northern Greenland. He wrote: "Many would think it dangerous and even crazy that two men would travel into these unknown areas without having any other hope for safe returning back but one's own resources and health… The doctor was the first, to volunteer, followed by Gibson and Astrup". Due to certain circumstances Dr. Cook did not become a companion of Peary. Instead, Peary entrusted Dr. Cook to look after the expedition's camp near the Red Rock (the name of their wintering camp) for two months.

After returning home Dr. Cook soon realized he could no longer live without polar expanses. In 1897 he joined the expedition of the Belgian, Adrien de Gerlache to Antarctica on the ship Belgica. The captain of the Belgica was Georges Lecointe and the senior mate was 25 years old Roald Amundsen, who, at that time, had little experience of the two Arctic sailings on whale-boats. The expedition consisted of 19 people of five different nationalities. In January 1898 Belgica entered the cold Antarctic waters. At the beginning of March, when the summer's warmth in these southern latitudes had already disappeared the ship was caught in the clutches of ice fields. Amundsen wrote: "Now the whole crew of the ship finds itself in the situation of having to spend a cold winter without necessary winter clothes, without sufficient supplies for so many people… The prospects were really dire".

During this sailing expedition two people perished and two went crazy. Everyone was ill with scurvy, including de Gerlache and Lecointe. The last two were so ill that they wrote their Wills. Under these desperate conditions the leadership passed to Amundsen. When recollecting these tragic events the world-renowned Norwegian wrote: "During all these thirteen months in this horrible position, confronting constantly the death itself, I came to know Doctor Cook more closely… He of all the ship's company was the one man of unfaltering courage, unfailing hope, endless cheerfulness, and unwearied kindness… And not only was his faith undaunted, but his ingenuity and enterprise were boundless".

Dr. Cook at Alaska

There are four polar top strings in the world: Greenland, Antarctica, North Pole and the summit McKinley, and it is natural, that the next goal in the career of Frederick Cook was to reach the top of the Northern American Continent. His first attempt to make an ascent of Mt. McKinley took place in 1903. The summit was not conquered, but the team of Dr. Cook, after performing miracles of courage and persistence, carried out a circumnavigation of Mt. McKinley. This expedition brought Dr. Cook new fame and recognition. Robert Peary sent a warm telegram to his recent companion: "I congratulate you on the work that you did on Mt. McKinley and I am sincerely sorry that you did not attain the tip top. I hope you may tackle it again and win out". Such warm wishes can easily be explained: at that time Dr. Cook was already well-known and people believed in and admired him.

In 1906 Dr. Cook organized his second expedition to Mt. McKinley. Once again the explorers did not manage to find the route to the top, but they did manage to investigate in their investigation work a large region to the north of the summit. Dr. Cook reduced the number of his team members from seven to three and with his inherent persistence he again started a new journey despite the forthcoming cold weather. One of his companions was left at the upper reaches of the Chulitna River. And Dr. Cook and Edward Barille began their route upwards, approaching their goal every day from September 8 to September 16. According to Dr. Cook's report, on September 16 at 10.00 a.m. he and Barille ascended to the summit of McKinley, but already in 20 minutes hard frost forced them to start their descent.

In May 1907 Dr. Cook's article was published in the Harper Monthly Magazine, the magazine having provided financial support to the expedition. Alfred Brooks, Director of the Geological Survey of the USA at Alaska, asked Dr. Cook to include a chapter about the geology of this region in his planned book about the ascent. Likewise, Charles Sheldon, a famous naturalist, entrusted Dr. Cook to include a chapter about mammalogy and ethnology of Alaska in his upcoming book. At the beginning of 1907 Dr. Cook and Peary attended a state reception, organized annually by the National Geographical Society. Graham Bell, the Head of the Society, in his welcoming speech, addressing his honoured guests, said: "I have been asked to say a few words about a man who must be known by name to all of us – Dr. Frederick A. Cook, president of the Explorers Club. We have with us, and are glad to welcome Commander Peary of the Arctic Regions, but in Dr. Cook we have one of the few Americans, if not the only American, who has explored both extremes of the world, the Arctic and Antarctic regions".

To destroy a rival

Now after McKinley Dr. Cook was hurrying to get the prize of the century – the North Pole. On June 7, 1907 he sailed from New York on the ship "John Bradley". On April 21, 1908 Dr. Cook became the first man in the world to conquer the Great Nail (this was what the Eskimo natives called the North Pole). Vladislav Koryakin, a Russian scientist said about the return trip of Dr. Cook from the North Pole that it was: "competing with the death". Dr. Cook and his companions, Eskimos Ahwelah and Etukishook won this competition. Harry Whitney, a wealthy New York sportsman, who was at that time in Greenland, recounted the following story about his meeting with the great explorer returning from the North Pole, which took place on April 18, 2005: "I was sure it was Dr. Cook, although I had never laid eyes on him before. Human beings could not have looked more unkempt. They were half-starved, very thin, and terribly dirty. Dr. Cook, like the Eskimos, had hair reaching his shoulders".

On September 1 Dr. Cook reached a telegraph post and only then the world learned about his victory. Five days had passed – and what a surprising and fatal coincidence occurred! – Peary announced that he had reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909, i.e. in a year after Dr. Cook. This was the fifth attempt by the 52 years old Arctic fighter to reach the top of our planet, and he had for a long time considered the North Pole as his own property. Simultaneously with the victory report the "owner" of the North Pole, Peary, attacked Dr. Cook with coarse words, accusing him of fraud: "Cook has simply handed the public a gold brick. He has not been to the Pole…" Later Commander Peary wrote to one of his friends: "I have put my whole life effort to accomplish something which seemed to me to be worth doing, because it had the great attraction of being a clean, manly proposition… I pulled the thing off finally, and then to have the whole matter soiled and smirched by a cowardly dog of an imposter…"

The influential and rich Arctic Club stood behind Peary's back, and it used everything within its power to supported their idol. They started to wreck Dr. Cook by all possible means. As a part of this persecution there appeared a statement that Dr. Cook has invented his ascent to McKinley. The purpose was quite evident: to defile the life of Dr. Cook before the day when he established his winning-post at the North Pole, to declare that Dr. Cook was a cheater before the North Pole as well. And if this was the case, then you could expect anything from him, including the theft of the North Pole directly from the pocket of the unmatched Peary.

But the supporters of Robert Peary in the USA and other countries would have to admit to the fact that Doctor Cook was the first to reach the Top of the World. This was proven by his magnificent book-report "My attainment of The North Pole", which was translated in Russian in 1987, as the explorer had discovered not only the North Pole but also the environmental conditions and nature, surrounding it. All striking descriptions, made by Dr. Cook, were totally confirmed over the following several decades. One could accuse Doctor Cook of anything but not of the plagiarism. As when he was working on his book-masterpiece there was not a single source in the world from which he could have borrowed the data about the Arctic oceanic ice. If the explorer had traveled to the North Pole in times he would have written exactly the same information in his book, as Dr. Cook did at his time. This fact radically changes the whole situation. The authenticity of Dr. Cook's presence at the North Pole becomes a strong argument in favour of the explorer in his claim on ascending Mt. McKinley.

But at the beginning of 20-th century Peary had enough power to annihilate his rival. Already on September 6, 1909, just one day after the arrival of the Peary's ship in the Canadian port Indian Harbour, the New York Sun newspaper published a statement by Fred Prince, a horse driver from of Dr. Cook's expedition to McKinley. The statement claimed: never has Dr. Cook set his foot on the summit of McKinley. Prince complained that Dr. Cook promised to give him money, if he confirmed the description of the ascent, but as Dr. Cook did not pay him, he decided to unmask the fraud. The evidence from the remote Montana State was instantly delivered to one of the New York newspapers where the statement's publication surprisingly coincided with Peary's arrival. Later Prince wrote to Dr. Cook that he would entirely support him, if Dr. Cook paid the costs of his trip to New York.

On October 15 the New York Times published an affidavit, made by Edward Barille, the companion of Dr. Cook during his ascent to McKinley. Barille declared that he and Dr. Cook climbed only to a small mountain, not exceeding 2 500 meters, which was more than 36 km away from Mt. McKinley. He also swore that he wrote false data in his diary under the dictation of Dr. Cook. It is interesting that the co-owner of the New York Times newspaper was general Thomas Hubbard, President of the Arctic Club of Peary. The data of publishing of this sensational information was not coincidental - at this time Dr. Cook was in New York receiving honours as the conqueror of the North Pole, and the people of New York City presented him the keys of the city. The smear campaign was carried out like clockwork. The conductor and financial supporter being one and the same, the Arctic Club of Peary, that was carrying out the order of the commander to destroy Dr. Cook.

Terris Moore, the author of the book: "Mt. McKinley. Pioneer Climbs" and one of the most bitter enemies of Dr. Cook recounted the following about Barille: Before the start of the polar controversy with Peary "Barille is described by neighbours as treasuring in his home… the copy of "To the Top of the Continent". We can read the same story in a book by Silvio Zavatti, Director of the Italian Institute of Polar Geography: "He (Barille – D.Sh.) was proud of gaining a victory. And after returning to Derby, the State Montana… went from home to home… stating that he was at the top of Mt. McKinley. Immediately after the publication of Barille's statement, the New York Herald newspaper that was defending Dr. Cook, sent its reporter to Montana in order to meet with Barille. Barille told the reporter that he was offered 5,000 USD for discrediting Dr. Cook. However he added that he would agree to change his testimony if he was paid 5,000 USD more.

Our contemporary, an American journalist and explorer Ted Heckathorn has produced new data. He mentioned the name of James Ashton, the Peary's Arctic Club attorney-agent in Tacoma, Washington, who, after receiving the testimony of Barille on October 1, had immediately informed Hubbard about this. Also Ted Heckathorn discovered in Peary's Archives, recently opened to the public, the original of the bank receipt Club in the name of Ashton for 5,000 USD from the Peary Arctic Club. A photograph of this receipt is published in the latest edition of the book "To the top of the Continent" by Dr. Frederick Cook, reprinted in 1996. All this points to the fact that the adherents of Peary had bribed Barille, and that Barille's affidavit was actually false evidence.

Still it was difficult for Dr. Cook to clear himself of the accusations. For some time he kept out of the public eye, then he started a business in the oil industry, drilling oil wellss in Texas. In 1922 he claimed discovery of the rich oil fields and sold many stocks in his company. But Dr. Cook's old enemies and detractors were on the alert and, once again, accused him of fraud. The sentence of the court was very heavy: fourteen years and nine months in prison. Soon after Dr. Cook began his prison sentence, his claim of rich oil fields was confirmed with the opening of numerous oil gushers on his site. After four years and eleven months Dr. Cook was released. In 1940 Dr. Cook died. He survived his persecutor, Peary, by 25 years.

Shaky Arguments

So – was Dr. Cook at the summit of McKinley or not? His two main accusers, Belmor Browne and Hershell Parker, members of his 1906 summer expedition, could have explained much in this regard. In their articles of that time they wrote about the ascent of Dr. Cook to the top of McKinley in the most enthusiastic tones. For example Parker wrote: "To any one familiar with the conditions and topography on this side of Mt. McKinley such a trip must certainly seem a most brilliant achievement of mountaineering and exploration". And in the words of Browne: "You have all heard of the Doctor's ascent and of his conquest of old Bolshaia. As I have seen the great mountain I can say that any one who goes through the cold and exhaustion that he and Barille must have suffered on the gleaming sweeps of ice and snow must indeed be of the stuff men are made of". On December 6, 1906 at the Explorers Club annual meeting Parker "declared that Dr. Cook's work as the most brilliant as well as important in mountaineering…"

But in 1912 Belmore Browne's recollection of the memorable days after the joint expedition related his view quite differently: "I… knew that the time that Dr. Cook had been absent was too short to allow of his even reaching the mountain… I wrote immediately on my return to Professor Parker telling him my opinions… I received a reply from him saying that he believed me implicitly and that the climb, under the existing conditions, was impossible". It is quite obvious that one can have one opinion in 1906 and then, due to the newly discovered truth, would think differently. But Browne and Parker related not about how they apprehend Dr. Cook in 1912, but recollected what they were thinking about him in 1906. But if at that time they actually thought so badly of Dr. Cook so badly, how could their extraordinary public ecstasy about the ascent of Dr. Cook to Mt. McKinley be explained? It appears that were insincere at least once. To be more blunt – they lied.

In June 1910 Browne and Parker organized their own expedition to follow in the tracks of Dr. Cook and Barille. At 36 km to the south-east of McKinley they stopped near the hill at a height of 2 438 meters, which they named "Fake peak". In the book, written by Dr. Cook there is a good picture of Barille with the USA Flag and a caption: "At the summit of McKinley, the highest point of the North America". Browne and Parker supposed that Dr. Cook took a picture of Barille with a flag not at the summit of McKinley, but exactly at the point on the hill, found by them. The "truth finders" took a picture of one of the participants of their expedition on this hill with a flag, posing like Barille and exulted in triumph, as it seemed to them that the two pictures are identical. Based on their personal assessments of similarity of the photographs, they declared that Dr. Cook had not been at McKinley.

Belmore Browne told about the expedition, which ended with the taking of a picture of a "fake peak", in his book "The conquest of Mount McKinley". The corresponding chapter is named "The end of the Polar Controversy" (i.e. a dispute between Dr. Cook and Peary), though there is not a single word about the North Pole. Why is it so? The answer is: the trivial arguments of the author: we have proved that Dr Cook had lied about McKinley, thus he did not attain the North Pole as well. We can only sympathize with poor Mr. Browne. Really it was the end of the polar controversy, but it happened not because of his efforts, but despite them. History has brought its judgment: Dr. Frederick Cook is the discoverer of the North Pole. And the common sense suggests that the future conqueror of the top of our planet could not have invented his victory on McKinley in September 1906.

Certainly the hostile camp would exclaim "Unconvincing!" That's why we should return to the "False peak". Even if it definitely turned out that Dr. Cook had made pictures of Barille with a flag exactly on this false peak, this would not prove anything. As it could have transpired that due to very low temperatures it was impossible to take out a camera at the top of the mountain, so Dr. Cook took a picture of his companion when they were descending. Or vice versa – he may have taken a victorious picture in advance, when they were ascending, being afraid that they would not be able to make a picture at the summit. The two statements: "Dr. Cook and Barille were the first to ascend to the summit of Mt. McKinley" and "Dr. Cook took a picture of Barille with the USA flag during their ascent" are connected with each other only indirectly.

The version of Browne and Parker, stating that they had found the summit, where Dr. Cook took a picture of Barille with a flag, had been dethroned. Ernest Rost, a topographer and an expert in photography, was the first to carry out a comparative examination of the pictures made by Dr. Cook and Browne. He covered the phorographs, equally scaled, by a net of vertical and horizontal straight lines and compared the content of the homonymous squares. As a result of this research work Ernst Rost concluded: "The above are only a few instances which could be multiplied many times. Any of these, however, is proof that the two pictures are not pictures of the same summit or rock". Later, independently of Ernest Rost, the photographs of Dr. Cook and Browne were analyzed by Edwin Balch, a well-known lawyer, geographer, and mountain climber, who published the book "Mount McKinley and Mountain Climbers' Proofs". He comcluded: "These various differences or divergences between Cook's photograph of Mount McKinley and Browne's illustration of Fake Peak certainly strongly suggest different peaks". And Ted Heckathorn in his article "Belmore Browne's slippery slope" noted that the financial source of the expedition of Browne and Parker 1910 was the cash deck of the Peary Arctic Club, thus the services of Parker and Browne were paid by the same hand, which paid for the false affidavit of Barille.

In summary, for the first three years after the ascent of Dr. Cook and Barille to Mt. McKinley everybody believed in and trusted Dr. Cook and applauded him. In September 1909 Peary launched his first attack at Dr. Cook. Immediately four heralds, who claimed that Dr. Cook did not even approach the mountain, appeared on stage. These four men. Prince, Barille, Browne and Parker, are closely connected with the Peary's Camp and it seems that there was not a single honest or selfless person among them. The accusatory wheels of Peary were methodically and ruthlessly rolling over Dr. Cook. Dr. Cook's reputation was crushed and he was given a horrible title of the "liar of the century". Now, though, when we know that Robert Peary had definitely defiled Dr. Cook, it seems only right that the reputation of the innocent sufferer should have been rehabilitated. But the falsehoods of the adherents and admirers of Peary had strengthened in the consciousness of people, gained a new life, and continued to grow in the scandalous historical myth , convenient for literary men. And this is the reason it was widely replicated – please consider what could happen! Unfortunately the clear evidence of the fact, that Dr. Cook reached the North Pole and even a total aversion to Peary's insinuations are not sufficient to confirm Dr. Cook's achievement at the top of the North America.

A Mysterious route of Dr. Cook

There is no other choice but to address the scientific and literary heritage of Dr. Frederick Cook, related to the epopee at McKinley, which are: his article in the journal, the book and the diaries, which the explorer was writing from July to October 1906. The diary was printed and Mr. Sheldon Cook-Dorough, the decoder of this diary says: "Dr. Cook's penmanship under the best of circumstances is difficult to read, but his Mount McKinley Diary is specially so… As Dr. Cook ascended the mountain, the quality of his handwriting deteriorated. At the higher elevations – 15,600 feet. 18,200 feet, and at the summit – his writing and his figures are set down with the greatest difficulty, with obvious effort and labour".

As it is impossible to forge the handwriting of shivering frozen fingers, it is impossible to suspect that this diary had been forged and written with the purpose of covering a falsehood. By the way if this had been really the case, Dr Cook inter vivos would have taken the pages of his diary and demonstrated them for his own benefit. But the diary was unknown during the life of the explorer. The diary was found only in 1956 among Dr. Cook's personal effects at the home of his deceased sister Lillian Murphy. Helene Cook Venter, the daughter of the explorer, had kept the diary securely under lock and key. Helene Venter offered the diary to the American Alpine Club as an historical relic, but the Club refused to accept it. After Helene's death the diary of Dr. Cook together with his other papers, records and manuscripts, was passed into the custody of her daughter Janet Cook Venter, who died in 1989. Under the terms of her Will, the 1906 Mount McKinley Diary with other manuscripts and papers that belonged to her grandfather were deposited in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, in Washington, D.C., where they are now permanently maintained.

This historical relic is important not only for its actual contents - but it also serves as evidence (testimony) of the authenticity of Dr. Cook's ascent. For example, on the page 52 of this diary there is a drawing of the Pegasus Peak, made by Dr. Cook (Mt. Koven on the modern maps), which could not be seen from the Ruth Glacier, and comes into view only from the East Ridge, which is located more to the north. Before 1906 people did not ascend to the East Ridge, so it means that Dr. Cook was unable to copy this Peak from any other source. This is the definite and incontestable proof that Dr. Cook really ascended to the East Ridge. This fact is of fundamental importance, as it exposes Barril as a liar – a liar who swore that they did not climb higher than the Ruth Glacier. In 1913 Senator Miles Poindexter made the following well-known statement: "Previous to the so-called Polar controversy everyone who has ever been associated with Cook in exploring expeditions spoke well of his character and ability. When the Polar controversy arose and grew bitter, an attempt was made to discredit Cook by attacking his account of the ascent of Mt. McKinley. In this matter, as in his later Polar trip, Dr. Cook published an account of his explorations… He described the physical conditions and appearance of the ascent to the summit of McKinley… Previous to these publications no one had ever described the summit of McKinley. No one claimed to know its conditions or appearance. He describer minutely the northeast ridge, its sharp summit, and the route to the extreme summit of the mountain; the great upstanding granite rocks at the point of approach to the Median Glacier, or "Grand Basin" lying between the north and south peaks; and that the south peak is the higher of the two. No one had ever stated these facts before Dr. Cook's publication of them".

There is nothing left but to agree with the Senator when one looks at the present-day materials. The Great Glacier, lying between the Karstens Ridge and the Pioneer ridge, separating the South Peak from the North Peak, was named the Large Median Glacier by Dr. Cook (Harper Glacier at the modern map). Dr. Cook made an ascent along this Glacier from an altitude of 4,570 meters up to 5,550 meters over 12 hours on September 14 and 15. The explorer found that the surface of this Glacier was accessible and passable. It was absolutely impossible to know of about these characteristics – neither from the north in 1903, nor from the east in 1906. In his diary Dr. Cook specified more precisely the altitude of the Great Medial Glacier near the base of the South Summit – 5,608 meters. Modern data confirmed the observations of the ascender. Dr. Cook described the slope of the South Peak as a gentle, presenting no difficulties for a climber. At last he stated that the two Peaks (the South Summit and the North Summit) are located at a distance of 2 miles (3,700 m) from each other. Recent measurements confirm. this… yes, this is correct!

There are very interesting studies of Hans Cornelius Waale of San Bernardino, California. He found the most detailed topographical maps of Mt. McKinley and its vicinity, as well as aerial photography, and had analytically and intensely scrutinized the mountain. After reading Dr. Cook's book he reconstructed his route. In 1972 or thereabouts Waale entered into correspondence with Dr. Cook's daughter, Helene Cook Venter, and she sent him typewritten copies of certain pages from Dr. Cook's Mount McKinley Diary. Waale studied these pages and found that the entries there confirmed essentially the route that he had reconstructed from the book. Some additional data from the Diary allowed him to refine certain points on the route and Waale made a few slight changes as a result. On March 11, 1970 Waale published his article "Dr. Cook's Mysterious Mt. McKinley Route" in the Anchorage Times with comments handwritten on the map, establishing the identity of Dr. Cook's observations and actually existing geographical objects. Waale wrote: "The purpose of this article is to show where Dr. Cook's McKinley route actually was after being an unfathomable mystery to over 70 years… The facts show that Dr. Cook's descriptions become more and more detailed and more confirmable as the summit is approached and his elevations are amazingly accurate. This is best revealed in Dr. Cook's unpublished notes, which contain other pertinent data…"

Theoretically it is probably impossible to reconstruct the route of Dr. Cook better than Waale. Now it only remains to experience it in practice. Somebody has to repeat the route of Dr. Cook to the summit of Mt. McKinley with his diary in hand, and to do it during the same season – during the first half of September. Only then can the mystery of the conquering of the summit of the North America, 6,194 m, be guessed, and the good name of Doctor Frederick Cook be cleared of suspicion and slander.

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