The Jensen Archive Sustainable Play

Documents and photos, mostly from the Don C. Jensen Collection at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. Although the contents have not been themed, they fall into three broad categories: the four Alaska expeditions, the Sierra / Palisades, and gear: mostly the Jensen pack. Periodically check back for additions to the collection. And for the full story, see Searching for Jensen.

In Colorado’s Grenadiers in 1963, with David Roberts and Matt Hale/ Jensen Collection
The classic tyrolean on the Sun Ribbon Arete / Jensen Collection
The Harvard Mountaineering Club 1963 Denali Expedition – Wickersham Wall. From L to R: Don Jensen, John Graham, David Roberts, Pete Carman, Rick Millikan, Hank Abrons, Chris Goetze / Jensen Collection
Jensen understood his research for the 1965 Huntington expedition could be useful to future Harvard Mountaineering Club expeditions / Jensen Collection
Letter from Smoke to DJ
Smoke Blanchard inviting Don and Joan to lead some Buttermilking. By 1971, Jensen had his Ph.D in his sights, was looking for a full-time job, and was easing out of the Palisade School of Mountaineering / Jensen Collection
Feanorian Letters
Jensen was a Tolkien fan, as this Elvish alphabet attests / Jensen Collection
1965 Huntington: Hale, Jensen, Roberts, and Bernd / Jensen Collection
Route description for the Twilight Pillar on Norman Clyde Peak / Jensen Collection
The wedding band / Courtesy Joan Jensen
Courtesy of Michael Graber, who in August 1969 enrolled in a week-long mountaineering class with the Palisade School of Mountaineering Mountaineering. Graber was an 18-year-old with no climbing experience at the beginning of the week, but by the end of it he made the second ascent of the Sun Ribbon Arete with his guide, Don Jensen. Sitting on the log, from left to right: Bob Swift, Michael Graber, Joe Brennen, Alex Fischer, John Fischer. Behind Swift is Jensen (holding an axe head) and behind Brennen is Joan Jensen. The photographer Austin Post is far in the back, to the right / Michael Graber Collection
Larry Horton setting Jensen Pack patterns
Rivendell Mountain Works founder Larry Horton laying out Jensen Pack patterns / Larry Horton
The custom Jensen Pack for Frank Sarnquist, Jensen’s friend, climbing partner, and co-guide at Mountaineering Guide Service. Sarnquist accompanied Jensen, Art Gran, Pete Carman, and John Hudson to Mt. Deborah in 1967 / Courtesy Larry Horton
The Jensen Pack’s simple and elegant design. These patterns later floated among Jensen’s friends and co-guides at the Palisade School of Mountaineering. “I had to have one,” Gordon Wiltsie told me; wearing the pack was a mark of distinction. The earliest packs were made with ripstop nylon. Later, Horton used Cordura to increase the pack’s durability / Courtesy Larry Horton
Early on, Horton experimented with business models, and approached Chouinard Equipment to distribute the pack, to which Tom Frost agreed, according to Horton. The Jensen was offered in the famous 1972 catalogue. Later, Chouinard discontinued the Jensen Pack, and introduced his own version of it, the Ultima Thule, which many saw as an improvement, with its larger body, top flap, and accessory pockets.
Jensen Pack fit guide from Rivendell Catalogue / Courtesy Larry Horton
How to pack a Jensen from the Rivendell Mountain Works catalogue / Courtesy Larry Horton
Thoughtful and precise description of the Jensen Pack, from the Rivendell Mountain Works catalogue, and its author, Larry Horton / Courtesy Larry Horton
Rivendell’s copy makes clear that the Jensen Pack’s design was liberally co-opted by the company’s competitors / Courtesy Larry Horton

ToolUserAlp48 Galen-Rowell-letter-to-editor-Thule Rivendell-Widely-Imitated-BP-73

CO Article Berkeley
Jensen, like nearly everyone else of drafting age during the Vietnam War, was considering his options / Jensen Collection
The Alpalet and Alpaline Tours were multi-day loops in and over the Palisades that Jensen envisioned for his more accomplished clients / Jensen Collection
The Alpalet and Alpaline Tours were multi-day loops in and over the Palisades that Jensen envisioned for his more accomplished clients / Jensen Collection
David Roberts in the Grenadiers / Jensen Collection
Rowell Letter to Jensen
Galen Rowell was still moonlighting as a climber and photographer; he was two years away from the National Geographic cover that would allow him to fully pivot into photography / Jensen Collection
MGS Clients NPalCrop
Early promotional photograph for Larry Williams’ Mountaineering Guide Service, the precursor to the Palisade School of Mountaineering / Jensen Collection
Judging by the guide’s choice of chapeau, this photo was taken in the early- to mid-1960s, during the reign of the Mountaineering Guide Service. The client appears to have inspired the headwear of choice for at least one well-known tarbuster / Jensen Collection
North Face view of Clyde DCJ Sketch
This topo has at least three routes on Clyde Peak, but Jensen seems to be referring to the Eagle Face route. Jensen named several of the glaciers on and around Middle Palisade, such as the Gurgle Glacier and the Wing Prop Glacier, according to Jensen’s friend and fellow guide, Frank Sarnquist / Jensen Collection
Tent Sketch
Appears to be a tent or tarp design / Jensen Collection
Wall Tent Sketch 1
This appears to be some sort of wall / assault tent / Jensen Collection
East Willow Alpine Club Card-2
Membership had its privileges / Jensen Collection
Jensen Log Book Deb67
A data page from Jensen’s journal for the 1967 Deborah expedition / Jensen Collection
The East Ridge of Mt. Deborah, Jensen 1964 / Jensen Collection
Ruth 2
The Ruth Gorge papier mache model / Jensen Collection
Ruth 3
“Ruth Gorge Moose’s Tooth project done to keep sane while studying for the PhD exam.” / Jensen Collection


A few days in the field for Jensen. Check out the times / Jensen Collection
Carman Overboots
A letter from Art Gran to Don Jensen on “Outhaus” letterhead, about the upcoming Deborah trip (1967). Gran’s friend, Pete Carman, was making Jensen Packs in Wyoming. Carman was also piecing together what would become the Supergator overboots / Jensen Collection
Cars for Alaska
Car ads / Jensen Collection