The Alaska-Yukon Ranges are a bogus grab-bag of a range, created to hold together the disparate and spectacular ranges of the far northwestern reaches of North America. The individual ranges of the area--the Alaska Range, the St. Elias Mountains, the Mackenzie Mountains, the Aleutain Range, and others--all seemed too small in extent to stand alone as Range2s, so they were combined into this artifical grouping.
The Alaska-Yukon Ranges have a obvious eastern border in the great Mackenzie River, and a less distinct southeastern border that very roughly follows the Liard River and the Yukon-B.C. border to White Pass and Skagway. This vast area includes all of Alaska outside the Southeast panhandle, virtually all of the Yukon Territory, and adjacent areas of the Northwest Territories. It even extents west to the Commander Islands, outliers of the Aleutians that are politically part of Russia.
The Alaska-Yukon Ranges are right up there with the Himalaya-Central Asia mountain complex and the Andes of South America as one of the three premier mountain areas on earth. The altitude, the terrain, the glaciers, and the variety of the peaks here are simply astounding, and the nothern latitude adds a dimension of cold and winter darkness that no other high mountains on the planet can match. Reaching a significant summit anywhere here is a major mountaineering undertaking made hazardous by extreme cold, daunting glaciers, and a high degree of remoteness from civilization.
Since this area is a grab-bag, there is little more to be said about the Alaska-Yukon ranges a whole. Descriptions of individual sub-ranges provide more information about these awesome mountains.
A brief summary of some of the principal ranges:
The Alaska Range, featuring Mount McKinley (Denali) and a strong supporting cast of high, difficult, and remote peaks, arcs its way across south-central Alaska.
The Saint Elias Mountains straddle the Alaska-Yukon boundary as the highest coastal mountains in the world. Mount Logan (19,541'/5956 m) is only slightly lower than McKinley, and the other high peaks include those of the Fairweather subrange into northwest British Columbia.
The Wrangell Mountains, between the Alaska and Saint Elias ranges, rise to 16,390 feet at Mount Blackburn. By world standards they are impressive in almost any context, but, between two higher and more famouns mountain masses, they tend to be overlooked.
The Brooks Range is a low (to only 9,000') but alluringly remote range in barren northern Alaska, above the Arctic Circle.
The Chugach Mountains are a wet and snowy wilderness along the southern edge of Alaska. Mount Marcus Baker at 13,176' is the high point.