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has come to hand is by Sir Edward Belcher, who visited that coast in Her Majesty's ship. Sulphur in 1837.

In the narrative of this voyage, a brief account is given of the ice cliffs at Icy bay, which are stated to have a height of about thirty feet and to present the appearance of veined marble. Where the ice was exposed to the sea it was excavated into alcoves and archways, recalling to the narrator's mind the Chalk cliffs of England. "Point Riou," as named by Vancouver, was not recognized, and the inference seems to be that it was formed of ice and was dissolved away between the visits of Vancouver and Belcher.

Accompanying the narrative of Belcher's voyage is an illustration showing Mount St. Elias as it appears from the sea near Icy bay, which represents the mountain more accurately than some similar pictures published more recently.

The Sulphur anchored in Port Mulgrave; but no account is given of the character of the surrounding country.

TEBENKOF, 1852.*

Tebenkof's notes, which are often referred to by writers on Alaska, consist principally of compilations from reports of Russian traders, which were intended to accompany and explain an atlas of the shores of northwestern America, published in 1852 in St. Petersburg and in Sitka.

Map number 7 of the atlas represents the southern coast of Alaska from Lituya bay westward to Icy bay. On the same sheet there is a more detailed chart of the islands along the eastern border of Yakutat bay.

The height of St. Elias is given as 17,000 feet; its position, latitude 61° 2′ 6′′ and longitude 140° 4', distant 30 miles from the sea. It is stated that in 1839 the mountain "began at times to smoke through a crater on its southeastern slope." At the time of an earthquake at Sitka (1847) it is said to have emitted flames and ashes.

*Atlas of the Northwest Coast of America from Bering strait to Cape Corrientes and the Aleutian Islands [etc.]: 2°, St. Petersburg, 1852. With index and hydrographic observations: 8°, St. Petersburg, 1852.

† In a foot-pote on page 33 it is stated that Captain Vasilef, in the ship Okrytie (Discovery), ascertained the height of Mount Fairweather to be 13,946 feet.

11-NAT. GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.


It will be seen from the account of the exploration carried on last summer that Mount St. Elias is composed of stratified rocks, with no indication of volcanic origin; and these reports of eruption must consequently be considered erroneous.

The low country between Mount St. Elias and the sea is described by Tebenkof as a tundra covered with forests and grass ; "through cracks in the gravelly soil, ice could be seen beneath.” More recent knowledge shows that this statement also is erroneous. The adjacent ocean is stated to be shallow, with shelving bottom; at a distance of half a verst, five to twelve fathoms were obtained, and at two miles from land, thirty to forty fathoms (of seven feet).

The Pimpluna rocks are said to have been discovered in 1779 by the Spanish-captain Arteiga. They were also seen in 1794 by the helmsman Talin, in the ship Orel, and named after his vessel. These observations are interesting, and indicate that possibly there may be submerged moraines in the region where these rocks are reported to exist.

Many other observations are recorded concerning the mountains and the bays in the vicinity of Yakutat. While of interest to navigation and to geographers, these have no immediate connection with the region explored during the recent expedition.


The surveys carried on in 1874 by the United States Coast Survey on the shores of Alaska embraced the region about Yakutat bay. They were conducted by W. H. Dall and Marcus Baker. Besides the survey of the coast-line, determinations were made of the heights and positions of several mountain peaks between Glacier bay and Cook inlet. Dall's account of this survey contains a brief sketch of previous explorations and a summary of the measurements of the higher peaks of the region. This material has been used on another page in discussing the height of Mount St. Elias.

Besides the geographic data gathered by the United States Coast Survey, many observations were made on geology and on the glaciers of. the region about Yakutat bay and Mount St. Elias. Exception must be taken, in the light of more recent

* Appendix No. 10, Report of the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey for the year 1875: Washington, 1878, pp. 157-188.

+ Pacific Coast Pilot, Alaska, part 1: Washington, 1883, p. 212.

Discovery of the Malaspina Glacier.


explorations, to some of the conclusions reached in this connection, as will appear in the chapter devoted to geology and glaciers.

A description of the St. Elias region in the Pacific Coast Pilot supplements the paper in the coast survey report for 1875. This is an exhaustive compilation from all available sources of information interesting to navigators. It contains, besides, a valuable summary of what was known at the time of its publication concerning the history and physical features of the country to which it relates. In this publication the true character of the Malaspina glacier was first recorded and its name proposed. The description is as follows:

"At Point Manby and eastward to the Kwik river the shore was bordered by trees, apparently willows and alders, with a somewhat denser belt a little farther back. Behind this rises a bluff or bank of high land, as described by various navigators. About the vicinity of Tebienkoff's Nearer Point the trees cease, but begin again near the river. The bluff or table-land behind rises higher than the river valley and completely hides it from the southward, and is in summer bare of vegetation (except a few rare patches on its face) and apparently is composed of glacial débris, much of which is of a reddish color. In May, 1874, when observed by the U. S. Coast Survey party of that year, the extensive flattened top of this tableland or plateau was covered with a smooth and even sheet of pure white snow. In the latter part of June, 1880, however, this snow had melted, and for the first time the real and most extraordinary character of this plateau was revealed. Within the beach and extending in a northwesterly direction to the valley behind it, at the foot of the St. Elias Alps an undetermined distance, this plateau, or a large part of it, is one great field of buried ice. Almost everywhere nothing is visible but bowlders, dirt and gravel; but at the time mentioned, back of the bight between Point Manby and Nearer Point, for a space of several square miles the coverlid of dirt had fallen in, owing to the melting of the ice beneath, and revealed a surface of broken pinnacles of ice, each crowned by a patch of dirt, standing close to one another like a forest of prisms, these decreasing in height from the summit of the plateau gradually in a sort of semicircular sweep toward the beach, near which, however, the dirt and débris again predominate, forming a sort of terminal moraine to this immense, buried, immovable glacier, for it is nothing else. Trains of large bowlders were visible here and there, and the general trend of the glacier seemed to be northwest and southeast.

"Between Disenchantment bay and the foot of Mount St. Elias, on the flanks of the Alps, seventeen glaciers were counted, of which about ten were behind this plateau, but none are of very large size, and the sum total of them all seemed far too little to supply the waste of the plateau if it were to possess motion. The lower ends of these small glaciers come

down into the river valley before mentioned and at right angles in general to the trend of the plateau. To the buried glacier the U. S. Coast Survey has applied the name of Malaspina, in honor of that distinguished and unfortunate explorer. No connection could be seen between the small glaciers and the Malaspina plateau, as the former dip below the level of the summit of the latter. The Malaspina had no névė, nor was there any high land in the direction of its axis as far as the eye could reach. Everywhere, except where the pinnacles protruded and in a few spots on the face of the bluff, it was covered with a thick stratum of soil, gravel and stones, here and there showing small patches of bright green herbage. The bluff westward from Point Manby may probably prove of the same character.”

Mount Cook and Mount Vancouver are named in the Pacific Coast Pilot, and their elevations and positions are definitely stated. Mount Malaspina was also named, but its position is not given. During the expedition of last summer it was found impracticable to decide definitely to which peak the name of the great navigator was applied. So existing nomenclature was followed as nearly as possible by attaching Malaspina's name to a peak about eleven miles east of Mount St. Elias. Its position is indicated on the accompanying map, plate 8 (page 75).

Several charts of the southern coast of Alaska accompany the reports of the United States Coast Survey for 1875, referred to above. A part of these have been independently published. These charts were used in mapping the coast-line as it appears on plate 8, and were frequently consulted while writing the following pages.


An expedition sent out by the New York Times, in charge of Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, for the purpose of making geographic explorations and climbing Mount St. Elias, left Sitka on the U. S. S. Pinta, on July 10, 1886, and reached Yakutat bay two days later. As it was found impracticable to obtain the necessary assistance from the Indians to continue the voyage to Iey bay, whence the start inland was planned to be made, Captain N. E. Nichols, the commander of the Pinta, concluded to take the expedition to its destination in his vessel. On July 17 a landing was made through the surf at Icy bay, and exploration at once began.

The party consisted of Lieutenant Schwatka, in charge; Professor William Libbey, Jr.; and Lieutenant H. W. Seton-Karr.

Previous Attempts to Scale St. Elias.


The camp hands were John Dalton, Joseph Woods, and several Indian packers.*

From Icy bay the expedition proceeded inland, for about sixteen miles, in a line leading nearly due north, toward the summit of Mount St. Elias. The highest point reached, 7,200 feet, was on the foot-hills of the main range now called the Karr hills. The time occupied by the expedition, after leaving Icy bay, was nine or ten days. So far as known, no systematic surveys were carried on.

An interesting account of this expedition appeared in SetonKarr's book, "The Shores and Alps of Alaska." Many observations on the glaciers and moraines of the region explored are recorded in this work. The map published with it has been used in compiling the western portion of the map forming plate 8, where the route of the expedition is indicated. Another account, especially valuable for its records of scientific observations, by Professor Libbey, was published by the American Geographic Society. The Guyot, Agassiz and Tyndall glaciers, the Chaix hills, and Lake Castani received their names during this expedition.

Lieutenant Schwatka's graphic and entertaining account of this expedition, published in The Century Magazine for April, 1891, gives many details of the exploration and illustrates many of the characteristic features of southern Alaska.


An expedition conducted by Messrs. W. H. and Edwin Topham, of London, George Broka, of Brussels, and William Williams, of New York, was made in 1888. Like the Times expedition, it had for its main object the ascent of Mount St. Elias.

Icy bay was reached, by means of canoes from Yakutat bay, on July 13, and an inland journey was made northward which

*The accounts of this expedition are as follows: Report from Lieutenant Schwatka in the New York Times, October 17, 1886; Some of the Geographical Features of Southeastern Alaska, by William Libbey, Jr., in Bull. Am. Geog. Soc., 1886, pp. 279-300; Shores and Alps of Alaska, by H. W. Seton Karr, London, 1887, 8°, pp. L-XCV, 142–148; The Alpine Regions of Alaska, by Lieutenant Seton-Karr, in Proc. Roy. Geog. Soc., vol. IX, 1887, pp. 269– 285; The Expedition of "The New York Times" (1886), by Lieutenant Schwatka, in The Century Magazine, April, 1891, pp. 865-872.

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