STATEMENT OF HERBERT FROST, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, CONCERNING S. 2273, TO DESIGNATE THE TALKEETNA RANGER STATION IN TALKEETNA, ALASKA AS THE WALTER HARPER TALKEETNA RANGER STATION.
JUNE 27, 2012
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 2273, which would designate the Talkeetna Ranger Station in Talkeetna, Alaska, as the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.
As the 100th anniversary of the 1913 summit climb of Walter Harper approaches, the National Park Service has no objection to S. 2273, which would name the Denali National Park and Preserve's South District Ranger Station in Talkeetna, Alaska, as the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.
Mr. Harper grew up in Alaska, a child of Arthur Harper, a Scottish trader and prospector, and Jennie Harper, an Athabascan Indian from the Koyukuk region. As a young man, he served as an interpreter and guide for the far-flung ministry of Hudson Stuck, an Episcopal archdeacon.
He joined Stuck on an arduous trip in 1913 to reach the summit of North America's highest peak. For nearly three months, the group moved slowly south from Fairbanks and into the high mountains of the Alaska Range. On June 7, 1913, Walter Harper, 21, became the first man to set foot on the summit of Denali, the Athabascan name for the peak, meaning the High One. The archdeacon's journal described their approach: "With keen excitement we pushed on. Walter, who had been in the lead all day, was the first to scramble up; a Native Alaskan, he is the first human being to set foot upon the top of Alaska's greatest mountain, and he had well earned the honor."
Since 1913, thousands of climbers have aimed for the summit. Unlike Mr. Harper, today the vast majority begin their expeditions with an airplane ride out of Talkeetna on the south side of the Alaska Range. The National Park Service ranger station there serves as an orientation center for climbers and other visitors to the Denali region. The community is proud of its varied history as a railroad town, a jumping off point for miners, and in the past several decades as the take-off point for climbing expeditions.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony, and I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members may have.