I have been getting requests to see a map of the Alaska Range and the area I am photographing. So I teamed up with the Alaska Center for the Environment and their GIS wizard Doug Tosa, to create a map. We figured we could just whip this thing out in no time, we were wrong.
The issue was that the Alaska Range is hard to define. The main area of confusion is the south, south-western sections of the Alaska Range. This is where two mountain ranges, the Alaska Range and the Aleutian Range, come crashing together, making it difficult, if not impossible, to decide exactly which mountains are part of which range.
Alaskan’s are very opinionated bunch and mountaineers, geologists, geographers, volcanologists and geothermorphologists, all disagree on what constitutes southern end of the Alaska Range. The mountains that generally can’t be agreed upon are the Neacola and Todrillo Mountains.
Often, the Neacola Mountains get grouped together with the Chigmit Mountains, which include the beautiful volcanoes Mount Redoubt and Mount Illiamna. Having been in every section of the Alaska Range, I find that the Neacola Mountains, with their steep, foreboding granite walls, have the same feel and look as the Kichanta and Revelation Mountains and not like the volcanic Aleutian Range. I know, that has no scientific value, but sometimes you need to just go with your feelings!
The Tordrillos are a unique, isolated group of beautiful mountains that sit on a high plateau. Mount Spurr, is the last, large volcano of the Aleutian Range and acts as a huge anchor at the south end of the Tordrillo Mountains. In the book Todrillo: Pioneer Climbs and Flights in the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska, the authors consider the Tordrillo Mountains to be part of the Alaska Range and the Neacola Mountains as part of the Aleutians.
Up to this point, I have not put any focus on the Todrillo Mountains. Because of their volcanic nature, I have grouped them with the Aleutian Range. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful and I would be more than happy to explore them in-depth, I just don’t know if they fit into the Alaska Range or not.
Another opinion of the Alaska Range is that it doesn’t include the Neacolas or the Tordrillo Mountains! When you look at a geographical map, that makes sense.
Some the of the named mountains on this map are “local” names that have developed over time.
Let me know what you think about which mountains should or shouldn’t be included in the project.
UPDATE: Please see Steve Gruhn’s comment below. Here is a version without either of the “disputed” areas.