Cook organized an expedition along the lines suggested by Brooks and set out in the spring of 1903.  The expedition used the combination of a pack train and a collapsible boat to move its supplies, but the boat proved unsuccessful and the entire expedition followed Brooks’s trail overland to the Peters Glacier. Two attempts were made to scale the mountain, the last reaching something over 11,000 feet on the Northwest Face. During the expedition Cook put to use a number of innovative ideas, including the windproof silk tent he had invented with Amundsen in the Antarctic, and sleeping bags that could double as panchos.   Instead of returning the way he came, Cook struck out through unknown territory to the northeast around the McKinley group, discovered an unknown pass back across the mountains and returned by rafting down the Chulitna River.  This first circumnavigation of Mount McKinley was not duplicated for 75 years, and made some significant discoveries, including Kahiltna Dome and the Bulls River Pass. 

     In 1904 Cook presented three papers at the International Geographical Conference in Washington, D.C.  In 1905 his only natural child, Helen, was born, and in 1906 he set out again for Alaska for another try at Mount McKinley.
     This time he brought along a shallow-draft powerboat of his design to move supplies up the Alaskan rivers.    After a fruitless summer of reconnoitering with his pack train, he appeared to have given up any attempt to climb the mountain by a new route from the south when he reached the ridge dividing the Ruth and Tokositna Glaciers.   From here the mountain looked impossible, and the party returned to the coast.  But in late August Cook took Edward Barrill, one of his packers, on what he said was a reconnaissance for a future attempt.  They went up the Susitna River in the Bolshoy, and when they reappeared a month later, Cook  announced that they had hit upon a totally unknown route up a large glacier, found a workable ridge and reached the summit on September 16, 1906.  As proof, he produced a picture of Ed Barrill standing at the summit holding an American flag.  As a result, Cook was elected the second president of the Explorers Club of New York and earned the financial backing of a millionaire sportsman, John R. Bradley, for his most cherished ambition, a try at the North Pole.
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