Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Dave Johnston

Dave Johnston Dave currently works for Denali State Park and is a mountaineer with decades of experience in the Alaska Range, including the first winter ascent of Denali in 1967. That climb cost the life of one climber and became a survival epic for the rest of the party. InArt Davidson's classic book on the climb "Minus 148," Dave emerges as the person most directly responsible for the survival of the team members who were pinned down for a week at Denali Pass (18,200'). Dave shrugs off any accusations of heroism, instead focusing on his love of high places and the challenges of bush living in the Alaska Range. Dave and his wife live with their children at two remote cabins, neither of which are "on the grid," but both have stunning views of the Alaska Range and Denali. Being around Dave is an inspiration in itself and his enthusiasm and boundless curiosity for the natural world is contagious. In the interview, Dave gives a detailed account of the winter climb, sharing great stories of the physical as well as interpersonal challenges of survival in epic circumstances. He also reflects on his motivations for climbing, challenges that lay ahead, and the changes he has seen in the world of mountaineering.
Dave Johnston appears in the following new Jukebox projects: