Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Dave Johnston

Dave Johnston

Originally from New Jersey, Dave Johnston came to Alaska in the 1960s and is an experienced mountaineer with decades of experience in the Alaska Range, including being a member of the climbing team that made 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. In Art Davidson's classic book on the climb "Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley," 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 has worked as a ranger for Denali State Park and he and his wife, Cari Sayre, lived with their children at two remote cabins, neither of which were "on the grid," but both had 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. Dave Johnston also has accomplished the feat of being the first man to climb to the highest point in all fifty states in the winter, and he has also reached these summits in the summer.

Dave Johnston appears in the following new Jukebox projects: