Monday, September 12, 2011

Vern Tejas’ 50th Summiting of McKinley Probably a Record

Guide Vern Tejas logged his 50th summit of Mount McKinley this summer, prompting an obvious question: Does that make him the ruler of North America's highest roost? Beth Bragg of the Anchorage Daily News (July 20) reports officials with the National Park Service don't know if anyone has been to the top of McKinley more often than Tejas, because they didn't begin tracking summits until 1995. They think Tejas, who boasts numerous claims to fame gained in the Alaska Range and beyond, probably owns the record for the most McKinley summits. (See EN, September 2009).

Tejas, 58, a guide for Alpine Ascents International, said his first two McKinley summits came in 1978, one as a client and one as a guide. An impressive – but not unprecedented – four summits came in 1988, when Tejas became the first person to complete a solo climb of the mountain in the winter. No. 50 came June 30, when he was the guide of an eight-person team that made it to the summit.

"Mt. Vinson in Antarctica would be my next most climbed mountain, however it's not even close to Denali at a mere 27 summits," Tejas tells the Daily News.

In 1988, Tejas made it to the top of McKinley four times, an achievement that began in March when he became the first person to make a successful solo winter ascent of the mountain. "My endless winter," Tejas calls it.

Tejas guided adventurer Norman D. Vaughan in 1994 when, at age 89, Vaughan climbed a 10,320-foot Antarctic peak that Admiral Richard Byrd named in his honor 65 years earlier during their historic 1928-1930 South Pole expedition.

Tejas also continues to pursue adventures outside Alaska, but nothing inspires him like McKinley. "Denali is the most beautiful mountain in the world," he wrote, "and I want to climb it as long as I can – 65 summits when I am 65 sounds great to me. A nice round number."


  1. Maybe he'll actually climb a hard route someday...we'll just have to wait and see.

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