Reigning over the expanse of rock and ice in Yukon’s southwestern corner is Mount Logan, whose girth gives it the distinction of being the world’s most massive mountain and, at 5,959 metres, Canada’s highest peak. Long the quarry of the world’s mountaineering elite, Logan awes even the most accomplished climbers. It towers over Kluane National Park, eight-tenths of which is entombed in ice. The remainder is a mountainous fringe penetrated by glaciers and littered with moraines and braided, milky rivers. For many years, my husband, photographer Fritz Mueller, has wanted to take aerial photos of Mount Logan and the St. Elias Mountains. His inspiration for this project lay in the carefully composed aerial photography of Henry Bradford Washburn, Jr., the American explorer who, 75 years ago, explored this poorly charted corner of the territory. Washburn photographed the St. Elias Mountains and climbed a number of peaks, including the first ascent of Mount Lucania. A decade ago, when Mueller met Washburn at a photography convention in the United States, where Washburn was receiving an award, this aerial photography project was born. After two years of false starts, the project came together in the summer of 2010.
On their third flight, as pilot Donjek Upton circled around, banking to keep the wing from obstructing Mueller’s lens, the light was gorgeous with layers of fog swirling around. Mount Logan is so big, they weren’t even a quarterway across the massif before time ran out, and Upton started fussing about fuel. “I kept ignoring him, lining up new shots,” says Mueller. “Eventually, he had to swing away from the mountain to head home. In the end, I had less than 20 minutes with Logan.”
Images and text from the book Yukon: A Wilder Place, ©Fritz Mueller and Teresa Earle, to be published by Greystone Books, an imprint of D&M Publishers Inc., in October 2011. Adapted with permission from the publisher and authors.