Art Davidson was interviewed by Dave Krupa on July 6, 2000, on the deck of Art's beautiful and secluded home outside Anchorage. Art is widely renowned for his stirring account of the first winter ascent of Denali in 1967. The book "Minus 148," has garnered critical and popular praise as a classic in mountaineering literature. Art has continued his work as a journalist and essayist, focusing on the plight of indigenous peoples throughout the world. The interview here is an eloquent, if harrowing, account of Art's mountaineering adventures throughout Alaska.




Dave Krupa talks with Art Davidson in Anchorage, AK on July 6, 2000. Denali National Park Jukebox Series.


1) Growing up Colorado.

Colorado -- plains\ Steamboat Springs, CO\ fishing\ Alaska\ mountain climbing\ summer camp\ horseback riding


2) How he became interested in climbing and accidentally coming to Alaska.

mountain climbing -- fear\ glissading\ adventure\ high school -- teacher\ Buckingham, Bill\ Sinclair, Pete\ mountains\ mountaineering -- skills\ climbing -- spirit\ Rocky Mountains\ West Coast Mountains\ mountaineering -- Golden Age\ Anchorage, AK\ Mt. Sanford\ Mt. Shasta\ Mt. Rainier\ rivers -- glacial


3) Climbing in the ranges around Anchorage and his first time on Denali.

climbing -- Alaska\ Denali\ Chugach Range\ Talkeetna Range\ pickup -- Ford\ Nishimae, Shiro\ Osaka Alpine Club\ railroad\ Kahiltna Glacier\ South Face\ routes -- unclimbed\ Southwest Rib


4) The Japanese climbing community and his mentor and friend, Shiro Nishimae.

climbing community -- Japanese\ history -- changes\ Japanese -- war\ relationships -- lifelong\ route -- South Face\ avalanche\ Denali\ ice fall\ seracs\ crevasses\ routes -- dead end\ Nishimae, Shiro -- teacher\ mountaineering -- life


5) The importance of food while mountain climbing and the genesis of the Denali winter climb.

Denali climb -- illness\ mountains -- food\ cornices\ avalanches\ Nishimae, Shiro\ winter climbing\ Osaka Alpine Club\ climbers -- experienced


6) Gathering people together to attempt a winter climb up Denali.

Johnston, Dave\ Blomberg, Gregg\ equipment -- mountaineering\ Colorado Mountain Industries\ Wichman, George\ Edwards, John\ New Zealand\ Nishimae, Shiro\ Japanese\ Genet, Ray\ Batkin, Jacques\ Terray, Lionel\ Mt. Huntington -- first ascent\ Switzerland\ mountaineering -- Alaska\ glaciers\ calisthenics


7) Planning and preparing for the winter climb of Denali.

Osaka Alpine Club\ Denali -- summer climb\ winter climb -- preparation\ safety\ food\ winter climb -- February\ guide books\ winter climbing -- mystery\ climbers -- qualified


8) The sense of unknown and discovery that pervaded climbing at the time.

glaciers\ challenge\ tragedy\ mountains -- unclimbed\ Kichatna Mountains\ Cathedral Spires\ Yosemite National Park\ rescue groups\ safety nets\ gear -- cold weather\ Blomberg, Gregg\ tents\ pants -- down\ parkas -- down\ bunny boots\ wool


9) Packing for the expedition and misconceptions upon arrival about temperature and crevasses.

Johnston, Dave\ route\ Anchorage, AK\ expedition -- packing\ Sheldon, Don\ Kahiltna Glacier\ temperature -- inversion\ crevasses -- Kahiltna\ route -- glacier\ roped\ snow bridge


10) The death of Jacques Batkin and the decision to keep climbing.

stakes -- marking\ Batkin, Jacques\ tents\ crevasses\ communication -- feelings\ Blomberg, Gregg\ leader -- responsibility\ glacier -- roped\ cold -- invigorating\ Johnston, Dave


11) Dave Johnston's love for the mountains and altitude considerations.

Johnston, Dave\ mountaineers -- limelight\ companionship\ altitude awareness\ climbing -- expedition\ climbing -- speed\ camps -- stocked\ acclimatizing


12) The expedition climbing up from 14,000 feet.

route -- West Buttress\ problems -- technical\ crevasses -- disguised\ temperature -- cold\ moisture\ safety net\ fixed lines\ cooking\ igloos\ snow cave\ tents


13) The winter view of Denali and individual emotions of team members.

Kahiltna Glacier\ Denali -- view\ winter -- beauty\ Anchorage -- daily lives\ death -- meaning\ challenge\ book


14) Dave Johnston, Ray Genet, and himself departing for the summit.

summit -- attempt\ storm -- approaching\ high camp -- 17,000'\ snow cave\ Johnston, Dave\ Genet, Ray\ Nishimae, Shiro\ Blomberg, Gregg\ Edwards, John\ Wichman, George\ Denali Pass\ sleeping bags\ parachute\ stove\ food\ cache\ altitude\ atmosphere -- earth\ air -- thin


15) Reaching the summit and descending in darkness.

altitude -- oxygen\ summit -- decision\ climbing -- darkness\ summit ridge\ temperature -- cold\ Anchorage, AK\ willow wands\ head lamps\ South Face\ crampons


16) Deciding to sleep at 17,000 feet, and the wind.

summit -- descending\ Denali Pass\ Johnston, Dave\ sleeping bags\ wind\ hands -- freeze-dried\ altitude\ snow cave\ gravity shift\ ice ax


17) Being stranded at 17,000 feet by the storm.

Denali Pass -- wind\ altitude -- mind\ snow cave\ ice\ food -- rationing\ fuel\ summit\ storm -- intense\ Blomberg, Gregg\ Wichman, George\ Edwards, John\ diary\ crevasses


18) Ray Genet finding Dave Johnston's old, cached fuel that saved their lives.

Johnston, Dave\ Genet, Ray\ death\ fuel\ water\ Denali Pass -- cache\ sleeping bags -- down\ hypothermia\ snow cave


19) Considering descent once the wind stopped.

wind\ mind -- clarity\ survival -- together\ feet -- swollen\ whiteout\ Denali Pass\ crevasses


20) Finding an old cache of food and descending Denali Pass.

tarp -- canvas\ ice ax\ Nishimae, Shiro\ food\ bodies -- starved\ crampons\ Denali Pass -- descent


21) Shiro Nishimae explaining to him about the food.

food\ Nishimae, Shiro\ shrine -- offering\ food -- spirit\ bomber -- WW2\ Hudson, Jay\ Hudson, Cliff


22) Descending to the 14,000 feet basin and seeing no sign of climbing partners.

Denali Pass\ feet -- frozen\ ridge -- 16,000'\ 14,000' basin\ tent\ igloo\ whiteout\ willow wands\ Johnston, Dave\ planes\ military\ jets


23) The rescue attempts.

Genet, Ray\ Johnston, Dave\ Arizona\ planes\ food\ black box\ radio\ plateau -- 14,000'\ base camp\ Windy Corner\ climbers -- Seattle\ frostbite\ rescue\ storm


24) Being rescued by the helicopter.

plane\ storm\ helicopter\ ice\ rope\ Blomberg, Gregg\ Edwards, John\ rescue\ frostbite\ illness\ Kahiltna Glacier\ basecamp\ Wichman, George\ Nishimae, Shiro\ igloo


25) Shiro learning that his partners are alive, and the 30 year reunion of the climbers.

igloo\ Nishimae, Shiro\ Talkeetna, AK\ weather\ mountain\ experiences -- emotions\ Fairbanks, AK\ Blomberg, Gregg\ frostbite\ reunion\ Edwards, John


26) Moving on after the climb and the emotions of sharing such an intense climb.

expedition\ marriage\ baby\ climbing -- extreme\ Genet, Ray\ Denali -- guide\ Johnston, Dave\ Alaska Range\ winter climb -- Denali\ climbing -- bond\ experience -- near death\ adventure\ challenges


27) Reflections on similarities between climbing and life.

life -- simplicity\ children\ St. Exupery -- writer\ people -- adventuresome\ boundaries\ climbers -- Russian\ [Tortestoft], Art\ Wickersham Wall\ South Face\ climbs -- technical\ weather -- mysteries


28) Going back to Denali with his son and writing a book.

West Buttress\ climbing -- son\ Alaska\ Denali\ hitchhike\ outdoors\ self-reliant\ mountaineers\ Native cultures\ book -- "Minus 148 Degrees"\ writing -- challenge\ Genet, Ray\ snow cave


29) Looking back on certain elements of survival.

survival -- selfishness\ booties -- down\ survival -- perspective\ writing -- stories\ Nishimae, Shiro\ Japan\ book -- Shiro Nishimae


30) His love of the mountains and living the lessons that he has learned.

Denali -- climb\ memories\ friendship -- bond\ Denali -- scientific group\ Denali -- beauty\ summit\ glaciers\ light -- changes\ life -- enthusiasm\ climbing -- life lessons


31) Mediums that he has been able to use to heal and share life experiences.

writing -- projects\ books -- cultures\ book -- Endangered Peoples\ book -- Exxon Valdez Oil Spill\ book -- Circle of Life\ book -- Rites of Passage\ Nishimae, Shiro -- death\ poetry