FOLLOWING THE TRACES OF
DR. FREDERICK COOK
May 2006 Oleg Banar, Viktor Afanasjev, famous mountaineers,
and Valery Bagov, a cameraman, will continue their research
at the Mt. McKinley (6194 m, Alaska), which they started in
The aim of the expedition – to repeat the route of the ascent
to the summit of McKinley, carried out by Doctor Fredrick
Cook from the south, from the Ruth Glacier and thus confirming
the priority of his pioneer ascent.
The history knows many examples when a good name returns
to a person only after his death. Frederick Cook, an American
doctor, suffered the same fate.
In 1891-1892 Dr. Cook as a doctor participated in the famous
North-Greenland Expedition of Robert Peary. In five years
Dr. Cook set off to the Antarctica on the Belgica ship.
Roald Amundsen, who was at that time a navigator on Belgica,
described the peripetia of this expedition in his autobiographical
book "My life". He told how under arduous conditions
of the forced wintering of the ship in the South Ocean Dr.
Frederick Cook (to whom he referred as his teacher) had sensu
stricto saved the lives of the participants of the expedition.
The fortune had tested the polar explorer more then once
during his life. But evidently the events of 1909 became the
heaviest burden for him. It was when Dr. Cook announced to
the world about his discovery of the North Pole almost at
the same time with Robert Peary, a famous polar explorer.
Dr. Cook stated that his record was achieved a year earlier
than Peary's: he reached the North Pole with the two Eskimos
Peary and his numerous supporters launched a powerful defamation
company against his rival, who wined the "prize of a
century". The rich Arctic Club of Robert Peary, which
for 15 years was helping its idol to reach the point, where
all meridians meet, became the machine, which was gradually
annihilating Dr. Cook. A lone person, romanticist, and a doctor
from the province appeared to be powerless in front of the
"imperious circles". He was accused of the fraud
concerning his announcement about the discovery of the North
Pole and exposed to the universal ridicule.
But this did not seem enough for the prosecutors of Dr. Cook.
His was also robbed of his other title - the first conqueror
of the highest summit of the North America – Mt. McKinley.
In the middle of the last century the truth had triumphed
thanks to the scientific discoveries in the Arctic Ocean,
and the main trophy – the North Pole – was returned to Dr.
Cook. He had been also rehabilitated from the other unjust
accusations of Peary's adherents. But it still was necessary
to prove his victory on Mt. McKinley.
On March 11, 1979 Hans Waale, American geodesist, published
in the Anchorage newspaper the results of his ten-year research
under the title "The mysterious route of Dr. Cook".
He combined the notes in the diary of Dr. Cook and his book
"To the top of the Continent" with the best modern
topographical maps and the aerial photography. The coincidences
allowed to reconstruct the route of the pioneer explorer,
which was (according to the author) "an incomprehensible
enigma for more then 70 years". Just this reconstructed
route has been investigated by the members of the team of
the Vokrug Sveta magazine and the Moscow Adventure Club.