This peak is #5 on the Height List for Alaska . This peak is #5 in Prominence List for Alaska . This peak is #10 on the Height List for Yukon Territory . This peak is #2 in Prominence List for Yukon Territory .Mount Saint Elias was the first land sighted in Western North America by Vitus Bering from his ship, the St. Peter, on July 16, 1741. For many years, Mount Saint Elias was beleived to be the highest mountain in North America, and was also the first to be climbed. It is the source of the Malaspina Icefield, the largest single icefield in Alaska. On the US side, the Malaspina spreads from the mountain over 4000 square km, eventually flowing to the Gulf of Alaska.
The first expedition to Saint Elias was in 1886, sponsored by the New York times and led by Frederick Schwatka and reached 2200 meters. Two years later the Topham party from England reached 3500 m. In 1890 and 1891 Israel Russell of the University of Michigan led a "scientific" expedition and reached 4400 m but was stopped by the all too common storms of the area. However, they did produce some fairly accurate maps and estimated the height of the peak to within 30 meters of its true value.
In 1897, using the maps Russell had prepared, an Italian party led by Prince Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, the Duke of Abruzzi finally reached the top. From a base camp on the Malaspini Glacier the Duke and various porters began ferrying loads up the north side of the mountain, establishing a camp at 3740 m on a ridge which was later named "The Abruzzi Ridge" in his honor. In the next 3 days all 10 climbers reached the summit.
A classic account of this ascent was written in Italian by the team Physician and scientist, Filippo de Filippi. When they reached the summit, a fantastic view unfolded: "We had risen 5793 feet from the col to the summit. The ascent had occupied 10 hours and a half; but we must deduct from this the thirty minutes spent over lunch...
The summit of Mount St. Elias consists of a spacious plateau stretching, with a slight inclination, from south-east to north-west. The highest point stands north, and forms a raised platform about 40 square yards in extent. The temperature in the sun stood at 10 degrees Fahr; there was no wind, but a slight breeze sufficed to chill us. We found some shelter a few yards from the top, and without leaving the terminal dome. Here we sat down to take some refreshment, trying to overcome the repugnance to food induced by fatigue and mountain sickness.
Beneath us, on every side, lay an indescribable panorama, glittering in the intense mid-day light. Only the Malaspina Glacier and the sea were covered by a low-hanging curtain of fog; in every other direction the horizon was perfectly clear."
Philippo then gives a grand description of everything he can see in every direction: Augusta, Cook, Hubbard, and Fairweather. And of course they could see the higher Mount Logan, only about 30 km away:
"About twenty miles And to the north, and running parallel to the Newton-Augusta Range, we see the vast chain of Mount Logan, the sole competitor disputing the supremacy of Mount Saint Elias. The lengthy crest constituting the summit rises gradually from west to east, in an almost uninterrupted arete, without depressions or deep cols, broken only by a few rocky pinnacles and ice domes, and reaching its greatest height in a snow-peak at the eastern extremity. After this point the crest makes a sudden dip, running on in a series of lesser heights, which, after bounding the north side of Seward Glacier, turn in a wide curve towards Mount Cook, and are then blocked from view by Mount Augusta. Likewise to the west, the crest falls rapidly, and ends in a series of short spurs among the lower hills."
Filippo then continues the glorious description of all that is around, with His Royal Highness (H.R.H.) assigning names left and right from the summit throne: Columbus Glacier, Quintino Sella, after the pioneer of Italian Alpinism, Lucania, after the ship that they came from Italy on, and Bona after a racing yacht belonging to H.R.H.
Name Notes: Its is called Yaas'eit'aa Shaa in Tlingit, which means "mountain behind Icy Bay", but is also referred to as Shaa Tlein "Big Mountain" by the Yakutat Tlingit. Because it is one of the most important crests of the Kwaashk'khwaan clan they used it as a guide during their journey down the Copper River.
It was first sighted by Vitus Bering who was the first European explorer to visit the area on July 16, 1741. Some historians believe it was named by Bering but others believe that eighteenth century mapmakers named it after Cape Saint Elias after it was left unnamed by Bering.