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Mount St. Elias stands like a perfect pyramid soaring 18,008 feet into the heavens on the Yakutat skyline, the second tallest peak in the United States. The Tlingit name is Was-eiti-shaa, meaning “Mountain in Icy Bay”. Danish explorer Vitus Bering watched the mountain emerge as the mist cleared following days of fog-bound drifting while exploring for the Czar of Russia in 1741. The discovery was made on, and named in honor of a Danish holiday, St. Elias Day. Mount St. Elias rests at the head of Malaspina Glacier, the largest piedmont glacier in North America.
Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America and is located just 30 miles by air or water from Yakutat. During the spring of 2002, as in 1986, the glacier advanced across the mouth of Russell Fiord, creating the world’s largest glacial lake.
Many marine mammals were temporarily trapped within this newly formed impoundment. Fortunately, the ice dam broke prior to overflowing the Situk River system, freeing the stranded wildlife. As a result, the community of Yakutat continues to enjoy the beauty of our land and resources.