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Raven and the Mountaineer: explorations of the St. Elias mountains


By: Alford, Monty
ISBN: 0-88839-542-6
Binding: Trade Paper
Size: 8.5" X 5.5"
Pages: 152
Photos: 28
Illustrations: 16
Publication Date: 2004


Description: The Raven and the Mountaineer is the most significant contribution toward the history of the St. Elias Mountain Range -- the Himalayas of Canada.

Sample Chapter

Table of Contents

The Raven and the Mountaineer is the most significant contribution toward the history of the St. Elias Mountain Range -- the Himalayas of Canada.

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.

No other work lists within one cover all the special events (does not include a record of private ascents) that have taken place in this part of Canada. No other reference could contain a first hand account of such special events as the National Geographic Mapping Expedition of 1965, of the Centennial International Ascent of 1967 and the Arctic Winter Games Expedition of 1972.

Author Biography

Montague Ewart Alford was born in 1923 in Cornwall, England. He was educated at
Plymouth Technical College and apprenticed as an aeronautical tool and die designer
from 1940 to 1944 taking additional night courses in surveying. Monty immigrated to Canada in 1948. His career in Canada began in 1949 as a survey party chief for Northwest Highway System (Alaska Highway and Atlin Road) and concluded in 1986 after thirty-five years of federal government service in water surveying and research including twenty-five years as Officer in Charge of the Water Survey of Canada office in Whitehorse, Yukon. By vocation a federal water surveyor, but by avocation a wilderness and mountain guide, Monty Alford has spent more than sixty years pursuing mountaineering activities.

Mountaineering and expeditions:

  • 1950: (March to December) 4,200-mile trans-continental canoe expedition from British Columbia to Gulf of Mexico.
  • 1961: Member, American expedition to make 22nd ascent of Mount McKinley, Alaska.
  • 1964: Member, American expedition to make first ascent of Mount Newton.
  • 1965: Guide to National Film Board of Canada party filming first ascent of Mount
  • Kennedy by the late Robert F. Kennedy.
  • 1965: Member, National Geographic Society expedition mapping the Hubbard massif.
  • 1967: Co-leader, Yukon Alpine Centennial Expedition (International Team) making
  • ascent of the south peak of Mount Vancouver as a part of Canada’s centennial celebration.
  • 1967-68: (October to January) Member, Yale University and American Geographical
  • Society expedition to the Antarctic.
  • 1972: Leader, Mountain Travel Expedition to climb Mount Logan.
  • 1972: Leader, Arctic Winter Games Expedition to make first winter ascent in St. Elias Mountains.
  • 1977: Member, Maine University expedition to the Antarctic.
  • 1979: Co-leader, Mountain Travel, Trans-St. Elias Expedition
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