Yukon Nuggets

1925 Yukon Nuggets

First Climb of Mount Logan


On June 23rd, 1925, four men stood on top of Mount Logan. They had become the first to climb Canada’s highest mountain. The story of the climb began three years earlier. In 1922, the Alpine Club of Canada decided Mt. Logan had to be climbed. It was to be an international event with six mountaineers from Canada, the US and Britain. The leader was A.H. MacCarthy from British Columbia.

MacCarthy scouted three possible routes to get to the mountain including one that began in Whitehorse where the team could travel to Silver City, in the Kluane region, along a wagon road. However, this would need to be followed by a 100-kilometer trek across glaciers that had not been explored. So, instead, MacCarthy chose a route starting from a small mining town in Alaska named, strangely, McCarthy.

On May 2nd, 1925, the team sailed from Seattle to Cordova, Alaska. From there they travelled to McCarthy. On May 12th, the party set off down the Chitina Valley, with a pack train of horses and mules, on an 88-mile journey. On May 17th they arrived at the foot of the Chitina Glacier. From there it was a fifty-mile walk to the Logan massif.

This adventure was of international importance and prompted TIME Magazine, in the fall of 1925, to write a feature story. TIME wrote: that they climbed the steep ascent of Logan, triumphant over gravity, tempests, blizzards, monstrous ice-cliffs and blocks of fantastic shapes with overhanging masses.

Scaling one peak only to find one 600 ft. higher looming beside them, they toiled 1,000 feet down, then hacked footholds up to the true peak. They stood for an hour on a ledge, a yard wide, looking off over a billowing sea of clouds punctured by glacier-streaming peaks.

Having taken photographs and observations, they clambered down, beset by icy hurricanes that blasted from the great peak. Digging into the snow by night, mushing painfully on "moderately" frostbitten feet by day, the climbers wended down as they had wended up, through their advance camp on a ridge at 18,500 ft. down to a bivouac in Windy Camp, on down through the frosted portcullis of McCarthy Gap to the foot of King Col Massif, to Trails End. Tired and sore of foot, they there constructed rafts of logs, planks, boxes, to float down the Chitina River to McCarthy. Four of the six climbers had reached the peak."

Two climbers did not reach the summit. They had to struggle down the mountain early because of frostbitten feet.

Mount Logan was now conquered but remained untouched for the following twenty-five years. In 1950, two parties reached the summit of Mt. Logan via the King Trench route which had been pioneered by MacCarthy’s team.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.

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