National Geographic : 1903 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 34 the overland route is taken, and thus save his strength for the task of ascend ing the mountain. These extra horses would, however, involve an additional expenditure of $I,ooo or $2,000. The same holds true in regard to the trip from the Tanana with canoes, where the energies of the party would be spent in portaging and in dragging the canoes up against swift currents. Such work is very hard and before very long will have a marked effect on even the strongest. It is possible, therefore, that if the base of Mt McKinley was reached by either of these routes, the energy' of the members of the party would be at a low ebb and not at all equal to the task of making the ascent. It should also be noted that by the two plans proposed the base of the mountain would not be reached earlier than the first or middle of July. The midsummer is very un favorable for reaching the summit, as it is usually shrouded in clouds, and clear days are very exceptional. The clearest weather and most favorable conditions will be found in June. In view of these facts, it is quite pos sible that even the best chosen and best equipped party would not be successful in the ascent of the mountain. It is the belief of the writers that success could only be assured by wintering a party in the region and transporting the provisions and outfits to the base of the mountain during the winter and early spring, when dogs could be used. With such a plan it would be possible to reserve the strength of the members of the party for the actual ascent. The writers would propose that a party be outfitted with a year's provisions, which should be sent to the mouth of the Ta nana by steamer, either by way of Daw son or St Michaels. From this point a steamer should be chartered to carry the expedition to the head of steamboat navigation on the Toklat. This could probably be accomplished by the first of July, and the party could spend the re- mainder of the open season in boating the outfit up the Toklat and in estab lishing the winter camp at some con venient point. During the winter, with the aid of dog teams, an advance party would es tablish a camp at timber line near the base of the mountain, and also cache provisions at convenient points on the lower slopes of the mountain. This being accomplished during the winter months, when transportation is easy by means of dog teams, the party would be prepared to take advantage of the clear weather of June to make the as cent, which, as has been shown, is a very important consideration. A modification of this plan would be to take a steamer up the Kuskokwim, which is known to be navigable as far as the forks, and very probably above. The objection to the Kuskokwim route is that it involves a very long steamboat journey, probably five hundred or six hundred miles, up a river about which very little is known. The mouth of the Kuskokwim lies out of the usual routes of travel, and the river is not easily ac cessible compared with the Yukon. The chief point is to obtain steamboat navigation to as near a point to the base of the mountain as possible, then estab lish a base camp, and distribute the sup plies during the winter months. It probably would be advisable to take a few horses for the winter trip, as they could be utilized for transportation both during the summer and winter. If this was done feed would have to be carried for winter use, though, time permitting, it would be possible to cut grass for hay. The winter plan does not necessitate the entire parties spending a year in the undertaking. It would be possible for one section to prepare the way during the summer and early winter months, while another joined them in March or April by traveling from Dawson with dog teams.