Alaska Native Teens Honored for Role in Historic Denali Climb

By Sameer Rao Jan 07, 2019

Alaska Native climber Walter Harper made sports history in 1913 when he became the first person to climb Denali's 20,310-foot summit—the highest in North America. Two of his teenage assistants, both Alaska Natives, have now been officially recognized for their work on the historic adventure.

The Associated Press reports today (January 7) that the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame added John Fredsen and Esaias George to an official plaque that honors Harper's team. The plaque sits near a photo of the trio and several of their White teammates whose names were originally included on the plaque. 

"We're all about the achievement, but the fact they were two Alaska Native youths makes it extra special, I think," Hall of Fame director Harlow Robinson told local CBS affiliate KTVA 11 last week. "Anytime we can celebrate our heritage, our First People in Alaska, that's great."

Robinson added that the two youth managed the expedition's base camp, so they didn't actually reach the summit. 

"There are people who don't summit that play significant roles and these two young men, that was their capacity," Robinson explained. "Their role as support was critical to the expedition."