A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali: America’s Wildest Peak

Pegasus. Feb. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781643136424. $27.95. BIOG
The driving force behind the first ascent of Denali, Hudson Stuck (1863-1920), an Episcopal priest, is chronicled along with previous attempts and the successful climb. Writer Dean debuts with a book covering Stuck’s background, from his birth in England, to life on the Texas frontier, seminary school in Tennessee and his forward-thinking approaches to priesthood in Dallas, all of which helped shape his approach to priesthood in Alaska, climbing Denali, and understanding his motivations. The climb was as much an effort to summit as it was to bring awareness to Alaska peoples, needed environmental protections, and calling the peak by its indigenous name: Denali. Also surprising for its time, the summit team included an Alaska Native as well as Stuck’s protégé, Walter Harper (for more on his fascinating life check out Walter Harper: Alaska Native Son by Mary F. Ehrlander). Another Episcopal priest, Robert Tatum, and a co-partner who brought the only mountaineering experience, Harry Karstens, round out the team. After the expedition, Karstens would speak broadly against Stuck for his treatment of others, with Dean presenting a balanced overview.
VERDICT From the Texas frontier to North America’s tallest peak, this balanced biography of Hudson Stuck offers provide plenty of adventure, setbacks, turmoil, and seeking a way to impact the world, and will engage
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