This is an old film shot of Mt. Drum in Alaska. The Copper River, famous for its salmon runs, sparkles in the foreground. Drum is a large volcano, part of the Wrangell Mountains in the south-central part of the state. The mountain and surrounding area are protected within Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, which at over 20,000 square miles is the largest national park in the United States.
Although it rises just over 12,000 feet above sea-level, hardly a great height for these parts, Drum stands up in dramatic fashion. It rises 11,000 feet above the Copper River in about 25 miles, and the spectacular south face rises 6000 feet over the Nadina Glacier.
It is quite a young volcano, the youngest in the Wrangells in fact. It last erupted just 250,000 years ago when a large part of the summit collapsed and a huge avalanche cascaded down the south face, covering some 80 square miles (200 sq km) of terrain.
Although it is not technically very difficult to climb, it involves a fairly major expeditionary effort because of the remoteness and the amount of glaciation and snowfall. It was first climbed in 1954 by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. It wasn’t climbed again until 1968.
This was shot years ago, as a young man driving through God’s country on a beautifully crisp autumn afternoon. It was mid-September. I recall that evening camping on a pass and, while freezing my butt off, seeing the northern lights. It was the only time I actually heard them, and they were also the brightest and most spectacular I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately I didn’t think it possible to capture them on film. Reason enough to return for a road-trip!