THIS is a very interesting account of a journey of exploration in a country which, as the author says, is probably destined soon to become better known. The most important part of the book is that which relates to the attempt made by Mr. Seton Karr and his companions upon Mount St. Elias. When this attempt was made, the combined “alpinism” of the climbers was “insignificant.” Nevertheless, they achieved considerable success, and the writer has been able to present a vivid and striking record of their observations. The height of Mount St. Elias was differently estimated by the old navigators, and Mr. Seton Karr points out that it is the only mountain the real height of which has exceeded the first estimates made of it. The latest determination taken from Yakatat and from the United States Coast Survey schooner Yukon, gives 19,500 and possibly 20,000 feet. From its massive shape the mountain does not convey the impression of being quite so high as this, although “its whole altitude is presented to the eye, from its sharp summit down to the ocean at its foot.” Of the scenery of which Mount St. Elias is the most prominent feature, Mr. Seton Karr writes most enthusiastically. He even goes so far as to say that “without a doubt the scenery at Yakatat is the most wonderful of its kind in the whole world.” Seen early in the morning, when the air is remarkably transparent, the mountains seem “too ethereal to have any actual existence.” The observer feels that “they cannot be anything except some unholy illusion that must dissolve and disperse when the sun rises.”
Shores and Alps of Alaska.
By H. W. Seton Karr (London: Sampson Low, 1887).
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Our Book Shelf . Nature 36, 220 (1887). https://doi.org/10.1038/036220a0