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Conquering Mount Logan

For the week of Monday June 23, 2003

On June 23, 1925, a group of six mountain climbers accomplished a great feat when they reached the summit of Mount Logan for the first time. This summit is Canada’s highest peak. It stands in Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada in southwestern Yukon.

Mountaineers near Mount Logan

Mountaineers near Mount Logan
© Parks Canada / M. Beedell

Mount Logan is part of the St. Elias Mountains, which extend across Yukon Territory, British Columbia and Alaska, and is the highest mountain range in Canada. Measuring 5959 metres, Mount Logan is the second highest summit in North America, after Mount Denali (McKinley) in Alaska. The weather conditions, comparable to those in the Himalayas and the Antarctic, can be very harsh. Mount Logan is covered mainly by snow and ice.

In 1922, a geologist suggested that the Alpine Club of Canada launch an expedition to reach the summit of Mount Logan. The following year, the Club chose members to participate in the expedition. British and American climbers were included, which gave the expedition an international flavour. With the help of maps and photographs of the region, and thanks to H.F. Lambert’s experience, Albert H. MacCarthy, head of the expedition, decided to lead the team through the Chitina valley and the Logan glacier. The adventure, initially planned for the summer of 1924, was postponed until the following year because the team did not have enough time to properly prepare and to obtain the necessary funds. Thanks to this delay, they were able to transport supplies and equipment, with the aid of horses or dogs, up to where the Ogilvie and Logan glaciers intersect. They set up base camp some ten kilometres from there.

Mount Logan

Mount Logan
© Parks Canada / D. Delahaye

Once preparations were complete, the members of the expedition set sail on May 2, 1925. They went along the Pacific coast and then crossed the mainland by train. The climbers had to walk the last 200 kilometres on foot. Initially, they wore snowshoes, but used spikes for the last kilometre. On June 23 at 8 p.m., the six climbers reached Canada’s highest summit for the first time. After a 25-minute break, the threat of a storm forced them to descend.

Today, climbing Mount Logan requires far less time and preparation. Mountain climbers are first transported by plane to one of the glaciers at the foot of Mount Logan. From there, they have to trek approximately 30 kilometres to reach the summit, which is still an extraordinary journey!

Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 because it is one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world.

For more information, consult the Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada.

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