Monty Alford, Yukon outdoorsman and mountaineer, dead at 90

Monty Alford, a legendary Yukon mountaineer who led several landmark expeditions in the 1960s has died at the age of 90. His son called his father a quiet, gentle adventurer who took on many big challenges and loved the small ones, as well.

Was Robert Kennedy's guide on ascent up Mt. Kennedy, led 1967 Yukon Centennial Alpine Expedition

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      Just days after wrapping up a 10-day sailing trip on the Alaska coast, well-known Yukon outdoorsman and mountaineer Monty Alford died suddenly at his Whitehorse home after a fall last Monday.

      He was 90 years old.

      He came to North America from England in the early 1950s for "a little canoe trip," his son Dominic recalled.

      "Dad's little canoe trip was from Castlegar, B.C., to the Gulf of Mexico — 4,800 miles and nine months later," he said.

      Alford was a hydrometric surveyor who spent more than 35 years studying and documenting Yukon waterways, but he's perhaps best remembered for his wilderness adventures.

      He guided late U.S. senator Robert Kennedy on the first ascent of Mt. Kennedy in Yukon's St. Elias Mountains in 1965, took part in two scientific expeditions to Antarctica and led the 1967 Yukon Alpine Centennial Expedition, during which 10 previously unclimbed peaks in Kluane National Park were climbed and named.

      "You know, dad had so many of those type of big trips, adventures, all of those things, but he really embraced the tiny ones, the ones with a few friends into uncharted areas. He loved that," his son said.

      Humble about achievements

      Dominic Alford recalled his father as "a quiet, gentle adventurer" who was humble about his many achievements.

      Many Yukoners know Monty Alford from his outdoor wilderness courses.

      "He always felt that with his knowledge, he should really try and share that. Dad was a tremendous giver," Dominic said.

      Alford also wrote books about his adventures, including one on winter survival called Winter Wise.

      At 75, Alford's family bought him a package of sailing lessons. He took up the sport with enthusiasm, owning several boats over the years.

      "It was a perfect extension of a tool to adventure with," Dominic said of his dad’s sailing career. "He began at 75, and he ended it less than a week ago."

      Funeral to be held Monday at 2:30 

      A funeral service will be held Monday at 2:30 p.m. PT at Sacred Heart Cathedral, in Whitehorse.

      An announcement will be made at the mass about the date and location for a celebration of life that will follow.

      The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Whitehorse Food Bank.


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