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Mount Sanford - Northwest Aspect # 6252

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Date: 2003.08.09
Vantage Point: From near Little Tulsona Cr. 20 km SW of Chistochina and 48 km NW of mountain as eagle flies

Caption: Mount Sanford presents its glacially scoured west side, towering above the Copper River Valley in southeastern Alaska. The left skyline is the standard north slopes ( Sheep Glacier ) route which continues out of picture. NW face is centre and SW face are slopes at right. The subsidiary dome at far right may be nameless.

PhotoDescr: Mount Sanford ( 4949m ) - is a massive, dissected shield volcano which has not been active in historic time and is classified as dormant/extinct. It has been built by accumulation of many hundreds of relatively fluid lava flows which account for the broad domed shape typical of shield volcanoes. It sits in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve and is part of the Wrangell volcanic field - 10,400 km2 of volcanic terrain that extends east into the St. Elias Mountains in Canada. The old basement rock on which the volcano erupted belongs to what geologists call the Wrangellia Terrane - a belt that stretches south through the Queen Charlotte Islands to Vancouver Island in southern B.C.

Said to be composed of 250 cubic miles of lava, this mountain is one of the largest by sheer volume on earth. Much of its structure has been eroded though, particularly on the SW and SE sides where giant cliffs of 5 to 8 thousand ft. in height avalanche continually onto glaciers, blackening them thickly with debris. These long radial draining glaciers and streams cut deep canyons into upland tundra on the mountains flanks, leaving behind huge amphitheatres, sharp crested divides and high treacherous moraines.

My first road trip to the far north and I was lucky to have gotten photographs of some of the Wrangells when I did. The cloud arrived two days later and socked in all distant views.

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