Several thousand square miles of unknown territory in the Yukon were mapped and explored by the National Geographic Expedition last spring, according to H. Bradford Washburn, Jr. '33, leader of the expedition. Washburn lectured at the Geographical Institute last night.
Until last February, when Washburn arrived in the east of the Mt. St. Elias range, no one had ever seen this vast expanse of snow-covered mountains. His work progressed by both airplane and sledge party. For 84 days, from February to June, the expedition was on the glacier or mapping the mountains from the air.
"When we took our first flight over this territory," Washburn said, "we found no less than four new glaciers of considerable size, and nineteen peaks over 10,000 feet high. Then we also found out that the Canadian-Alaskan boundary is over five miles out.
"We took this trip into the far north in February, which most people think is a crazy time to go on an expedition, for several reasons. In the first place the atmospheric conditions are perfect for photography at that time. Besides this, the sun is low enough to give shadows and throw all our pictures into relief. Most important of all, with snow on the ground, it was possible to land with skis almost anywhere on lakes or glaciers."
For the first part of the expedition, most of the work was by airplane and they took all the supplies out to the base camp, located on a glacier that was named after President-emeritus Lowell.
The party then started with the sledges and dog teams, crossing the mountain ranges to the Pacific Ocean, and working on the triangulation and map making.
"This sledging through rough country was hard work," Washburn said, "and was not that Clark Gable-Loretta Young type, with a basket on the sledge, and the rider all wrapped up in fur robes. Either you push the sledge from behind, or when you get too tired to do that, you would go forward to break the trail.
No Peaks Topped
"On the expedition, we did not get to the top of a single peak, for our sole object was to locate the mountains. Some of these peaks are the most impregnable I've ever seen, and one as yet unnamed peak, over 14,000 feet high, had one absolutely vertical cliff 6000 feet high. If they ever try to climb some of these, I hope I'm not around."