Dr. Cook Also Dismissed From the Council of the Brooklyn
Institute of Arts and Sciences.
The Washington Evening Star for January 6, 1910, contains the following report
of Dr. Cook's expulsion from the Arctic Club of America and from the council of
the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the scientific organization of Dr.
Cook's home city:
COOK BARREN OF HONOR—ALMOST LAST VESTIGE OF SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT
GONE—ARCTIC CLUB OF AMERICA, WHICH HE FOUNDED, DROPS HIS NAME FROM ITS ROLL.
New York, January 6.
The Arctic Club of America, founded by Dr. Frederick A. Cook and his supporters
in the North Pole controversy, through its board of directors, has dropped the
name of the explorer from the roll of membership.
The action of the Arctic Club directors last night was unanimous, and follows
hard on the heels of the explorer's summary dismissal from the council of the
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences two days ago, and strips from the
explorer almost the his vestige of scientific honors, only the degree of doctor
of philosophy conferred by the University of Copenhagen remaining.
The Arctic Club of, America led his the welcoming festivities to Dr. Cook on his
return from Greenland and Copenhagen. Later the club tendered Dr. Cook, a former
president of the organization, a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria, while many of
its individual members, including Admiral Schley and, Capt. Osbon, warmly
championed the cause of Cook when his now discredited polar claim was
Dr. Cook's Claim to Having Ascended to the Summit of
Mount McKinley, in Alaska.
Dr. Cook's contention that he ascended to the summit of Mount McKinley two or
three years prior to his claim with respect to the North Pole is a matter with
which the public generally is so thoroughly familiar that it is hardly worth
while to comment thereon extensively. The Delegate in Congress from Alaska, who
himself attempted the first ascent to the summit of the mountain in the year
1903, does not hesitate to say with respect to Dr. Cook:
All of us who know anything about Mount McKinley know that Cook's story of his
successful ascent of that mountain is a deliberate falsehood. * * * His story
was so fraudulent, that one does not have time to talk about it.
Explorers' Club Investigate and Reject Dr. Cook's Claim to
Have Climbed Mount McKinley and Then Expel Him from Membership.
The Explorers' Club, after investigating Dr. Cook's claim to have climbed Mount
McKinley, rejected it and expelled him from membership. The following account of
their action I take from report in the Washington Post of December 25, 1909:
CLUB EXPELS COOK—EXPLORERS DECLARE MOUNT MCKINLEY “ASCENT” A
FRAUD—EXPOSED IN LONG REPORT—NEEDING MONEY, FORMER FRIENDS SAY, HE PUT UP THE
JOB—ASSOCIATES ON THE TRIP TO ALASKA ASSERT THAT PICTURES, HIS CLAIMS, AND HIS
BOOK ARE ALL A SERIES OF PALPABLE FAKES—PHOTOGRAPHED ONE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN
AND MADE IT APPEAR TO BE ANOTHER—HAD NO INSTRUMENTS.
NEW YORK, December 24, 1909
The board of governors of the Explorers' Club met to-day in executive session
and, standing in silence, voted with bowed heads that Dr. Frederick A. Cook be
dropped from the rolls of the club for frauds practiced on its members and on
the public. Preliminary to its vote of expulsion
the board met to pass upon the report of its committee, which has been
investigating the validity of Dr. Cook's assertion that he reached, the summit
of Mount McKinley. This committee, in concluding an exhaustive report,
“Dr. Cook's claim that he ascended the summit of Mount McKinley in
1906 be rejected by the Explorers' Club as unworthy of credence.”
The committee's recommendation was based on its finding that—
“Dr. Cook had repeatedly made statements that have not been in accord with the
facts, and that he had entered into agreements which he has failed to keep, and
that the misstatements and broken agreements deal not only with matters
appertaining to discovery, but to ordinary financial transactions, so that no
credence can be given to statements made by him.”
FRIENDS AMONG SIGNERS.
Among the signatures appended were those of Whitney and Anthony Fiala, both
personal friends of Dr. Cook. The committee Is further explicit in its statement
that it undertook its investigation only after first apprising Dr. Cook of its
purpose, which he approved in person; and that it has disregarded the testimony
of Edward Barrill, Dr. Cook's guide, and of Frederick Printz, his packer,
although such testimony was before them—because it wished no cloud of partisan
contention or question of financial interest to dim the integrity of its
In addition to Whitney and Fiala, the report is signed by Frederick S.
Dallenbaugh, of the American Geographical Society; Prof. Marshal H. Saville, of
the chair of archaeology in Columbia University; Walter G. Clark, Charles H.
Townsend, director of the New York aquarium, and Henry G. Walsh, secretary of
the Explorers' Club, and individual signed reports are submitted by Herschel C.
Parker, professor of physics at Columbia, and Belmore Brown, both of whom are
members of the Cook-McKinley expedition, and by Charles Sheldon who has recently
returned from a year's residence on the slope of Mount McKinley, where he went
for the purpose of studying the configuration of the mountain, with a view to
the possibility of its ascent.
HIS PLANS NOT FEASIBLE.
Prof. Parker reports that he was a partner with Dr. Cook in the McKinley
expedition, both physically and financially, Dr. Cook assumed the lead with a
plan which proved unfeasible, and the party escaped with their lives, thanks to
the local knowledge of Belmore Brown, one of its members. “It was perfectly
understood,” says Prof. Parker, “that after the misadventure all further
attempts were abandoned for the season.” Otherwise Prof. Parker would not have
left the expedition.
Instead of this, Dr. Cook, it is charged, sidetracked all members of the
expedition until there remained only himself, his guide, Barrill, and one
packer, who was subsequently got rid of also. These defections left Dr. Cook,
says Prof. Parker, no instruments capable of measuring the altitudes he says he
attained. Moreover, he adds, the summer's experience had shown that of all the
party Dr. Cook and Barrill were the least fitted physically for arduous mountain
Belmore Brown, in the main, confirms Prof. Parker, and says also that in Dr.
Cook's book there is not one date given from the time he left the Chulitna
River. This makes intelligent criticism impossible, he declares. Brown asserts
further that he never saw Dr. Cook make a
single aneroid barometer reading during the whole trip. Confirming a charge that
has previously been made, he says that Dr. Cook was known to be in serious
financial straits, and would have had great difficulty in getting out of Alaska
if he had not reported that he attained the summit of Mount McKinley.
DECLARES PICTURES FAKES.
Brown fortifies his charges with the declaration that Cook and Barrill had no
ice creepers, and that, though Dr. Cook afterwards told Prof. Parker that he and
Barrill were roped together every foot of the last stages, Prof. Parker and
Brown both remembered that they destroyed the climbing rope as defective before
they quit the expedition. Furthermore, in none of the pictures published in Dr.
Cook's book does a climbing rope appear.
Brown and Sheldon also report that various photographs in Dr. Cook's book do not
represent the peaks they are said to picture; while Sheldon, denies that he is
the author of the appendix C in the book which Dr. Cook credits to him.
The committee as a whole, therefore, concludes in part that—
“Dr. Cook's account of the ascent is not only such as to be unconvincing to the
experienced mountaineer, but that under analysis it becomes incredible.
“That he entered into a secret financial agreement with a publisher which
resulted in embarrassment to his associates.
“That he broke his agreement with his fellow club members to supply his original
photographs and data upon which his book was based.
DESCRIBES ANOTHER RIDGE.
“That the evidence before the committee is to the effect that it would be
utterly impossible to ascend the glaciers and frozen snow slopes wearing the
rubber shoepacks which Dr. Cook states in his book he wore while making the
“That Dr. Cook's description of the ascent of Mount McKinley on the northeast
ridge, which is the ridge by which he claimed to have reached the peak, is in
reality, a description of the southeast ridge. The former ridge was explored by
him on a previous expedition and in his book he declares it impossible as a
route to the peak.”
Prof. Parker, of Columbia University, Photographs Dr.
Cook's Peak Many Miles from Mount McKinley.
It will be remembered that upon Dr. Cook's return from the Arctic regions in
1909 the guide whom he alleged went to the top of Mount McKinley with him
announced that they never had been to the summit and that the picture Dr. Cook
took with this guide holding a flag on the top was miles from the peak. Dr.
Cook, with respect to this, asserted that this was merely a plot of Admiral
Peary to ruin him. Anyone, however, who takes the trouble to examine the
newspaper files of that period can readily ascertain for himself that this guide
repudiated Cook's claim before it was even known that Peary had reached the
North Pole, for at the time he had not yet been even heard from. This guide
subsequently drew a map upon which he located the peak which was photographed as
the summit of Mount McKinley.
Prof. Parker, of Columbia University, subsequently took this map to Alaska in an
effort to locate this fake peak.
The following newspaper clipping sets forth his report upon the subject:
PROF. PARKER LAYS BARE MOUNT MCKINLEY FAKE OF DR. COOK—MAKES A
DUPLICATE PHOTOGRAPH OF HIS FAMOUS “TOP OF THE CONTINENT" AT AN ELEVATION OF
ONLY 5,000 FEET AND 20 MILES AWAY FROM THE BASE OF THE GIANT ALASKAN
PEAK—EXPOSURE BY EDWARD BARRILL IS COMPLETELY CORROBORATED—WITH MAP MADE BY
FORMER GUIDE AND DR. COOK'S OWN PHOTOGRAPH NOTED EXPLORER AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBER
HAS NO TROUBLE IN LOCATING THE SPOT.
Indisputable evidence of the falsity of Dr. Frederick A. Cook's claim to having
ascended to the top of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is
furnished by Prof. Herschal C. Parker, of Columbia University, who has just
returned to New York City from his latest trip to Alaska. Prof. Parker undertook
the journey during the past summer to settle once and for all time the question
of Dr. Cook's veracity as to the Mount McKinley episode, and the proofs he has
brought back with him show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man who failed
miserably in his attempt to rob Capt. Robert E. Peary of the credit of having
discovered the North Pole was 20 miles away in an air line from the “Top of the
Continent” at the time he claims to have stood on the utmost height of the
The most important piece of evidence obtained by Prof. Parker, and which not
even the most ardent supporter of Dr. Cook can question, if there be any left
who still believe in him, is a duplicate photograph of Dr. Cook's Top of the
Continent, or, as he was pleased to also term it, the ultima thule of his
ambition. * * *
The most cursory examination of the two pictures will show that they are
photographs of the same rock, while a tracing of the outlines of each leaves no
doubt of it.
Archdeacon Stuck, of Alaska, Exposes Dr. Cook.
The Rev. Dr. Hudson Stuck, archdeacon of the Yukon, in 1913 made the first
accepted ascent of the summit. In his book upon the subject, published by
Scribners in 1914, after tracing Dr. Cook's account of his alleged trip with the
packer Barrille to a point on a glacier several miles from Mount McKinley, then
From this point “up and up to the heaven-scraped granite of the top" Dr. Cook
grows grandiloquent and vague, for at this point his true narrative ends.
The claims that Dr. Cook made on his return are well known, but it is quite
impossible to follow his course from the description given in his book, To the
Top of the Continent.
Dr. Cook talks “about the heaven-scraped granite of the top” and “the dazzling
whiteness of the frosted granite blocks.” and prints a photograph of the top
showing granite slabs. There is no rock of any kind on the south (the higher)
peak above 19,000 feet. The last 1,500 feet of the mountain is all permanent
snow and ice: nor is the conformation of the summit in the least like the
photograph printed as “the top of Mount McKinley.”
But it is not worth while to pursue the subject further. The present writer
feels confident that any man who climbs to the top of Denali (Mount McKinley)
and then reads Dr. Cook's account of his ascent will not need Edward Barrille's
affidavit to convince him that Cook's narrative is untrue. Indignation is,
however, swallowed up in pity when one thinks upon the really excellent
pioneering and exploring work done by this man and realizes that the immediate
success of the imposition about the ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley) doubtless
led to the more audacious imposition about the discovery of the North Pole and
that to his discredit and downfall.