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Item #: BK4614-8597
THE RAVEN AND THE MOUNTAINEER: EXPLORATIONS OF THE ST ELIAS MOUNTAINS Monty Alford 2019 1st ed Softcover Fine Multiple Copies Available
By Alford, Monty
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Canada, 2005, 1st edition. 152 pages, 100+ photos, many in color. Perfect bound softcover. Fine. 

The Raven and the Mountaineer is a significant contribution toward the history of the St. Elias Mountain Range -- the Himalayas of North America. To introduce this mountain range to the reader the author has chosen the aboriginal emblem and traditionally sacred bird the Raven to make the introductory statement to each chapter. It is the Raven, the creature that soars high and endures the worst of weather, that has observed all that has taken place since time immemorial. 

The author has been privileged to have had the opportunity to spend several months (collectively) within the sanctuary of the St. Elias. This is a publication that presents to the reader the unique history of a very special part of Canada. 

From first sightings by coastal navigators like Bering, La Perouse, Malaspina, Quadra, Cook and Vancouver to the first ascents of the two highest peaks Mount St. Elias and Mount Logan (Canada's highest) to the surveys by the International Boundary Commission, the story is an exciting one. The author has appropriately dedicated his work to the late Dr. Walter Wood whom he regards as the Father of the St. Elias. Beginning in 1935 and until his death in 1993 Walter carried out exploratory mountaineering and initiated multi-disciplinary research in the region. 

This book is a novel combination of the history of the initial sighting of Mount St. Elias and subsequent exploration of the Range with the personal experiences of the author in expeditions during the second half of the twentieth century. A unifying thread is provided by the Raven who shares the narrative and gives the text a poetic, even mystical, dimension. The sense of eternal permanence one experiences in the mountain world permeates the book through the Raven's voice.

Some Climbing History

The first ascent of Saint Elias was made on July 31st 1897 led by the world renown Prince Luigi Amadeo di Savoia who was also the founder of today's standard route on K2. His party ascended the Abruzzi Ridge, a ridge dropping north off from the summit into the Yukon. This route is typically no longer used due to the large ice fall dangers.

The second successful summit attempt wasn't until 1946 when a team from the Harvard Mountaineering Club climbed the southwest ridge. They started from sea level at Icy Bay and it took them eight days to approach on the glacier that ends at Taan fjord. Three days afterwards they made the summit. This route is often considered the Harvard Route in their honor. Some of the members of this team went on to climb many more mountains in the area, including other first ascents.

The first ascent of Mt. Logan was a 65 day trek that involved walking cross country 120 miles from the town of McCarthy, where the train lines ended. On June 23, 1925, leader Albert H. MacCarthy, H.F. Lambart, Allen Carpé, W.W. Foster, N. Read and Andy Taylor summitted. The second ascent wasn't until 1957.

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