Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Les Viereck

Les Viereck Les is a retired botanist who, in addition to a long and productive career as a scientist, was a member of the first successful ascent of the South Buttress of Denali in 1954. Like fellow climbing team member Morton Wood(also featured in this Jukebox), Les recalls this climb not only as a remarkable achievement, but one that came with a tragic price: the loss of the most experienced climber on the team, Elton Thayer. Les describes the climb and subsequent epic in great detail, adding fascinating observations about crew dynamics, observations on high altitude ecology, and the foodless trek across the Muldrow Glacier that he and Woody (Morton Wood) took in order to get help for the injured George Argus. Les also reflects on his ongoing commitment to protection of parklands, and the threats to Denali that come with increasing visitor use.
Les Viereck appears in the following new Jukebox projects: