In the fourth installment of Sasquatch Tracker’s Historical Bad Boys, we’re going to examine Frank Howard’s description of a standoff with the Malaspina Glacier Beast. As with the rest of the Historical Bad Boy series, we are learning that encounters with mysterious wild men have been frequently mentioned in Alaska’s history. The Frank Howard incident first appeared as The Beast in the Glacier in the March 1909 issue of the Alaska-Yukon Magazine. Let’s take a look:
Frank Howard was a prospector who was exploring and examining local rock outcroppings in Yakutat Bay. On this particular day, Howard had spotted an outcropping on a barren ridge that showed some promising mineral coloration and he decide to investigate. In order to get to the outcropping, Howard would travel by canoe approximately 3 miles and cross one arm of the Malaspina Glacier.
Once Howard reached the base of the glacier, he carefully examined the
multiple crevasses looking for a possible way to climb from the bay to the top of the ice in order to cross. After finding one suitable crevasse, Howard donned his ice-creepers (crampons) and begin his assent. It would take Howard about an hour of careful climbing to reach the top of the glacier.
Howard reached the top of the glacier and began to advance toward the targeted outcropping. He had expected to find the surface of the glacier twisted and serrated with handfuls of crevasses. But, instead he found relatively flat ice. Howard proceeded and noticed that with each step, the conditions of the ice were rapidly deteriorating. He eventually reached an abrupt bench and could go no further. In an attempt to move, he raised one of his feet and lost hold of the ice. Howard plunged into a crevasse. He described it as falling into space for an eternity. (I had a similar experience on Mount Rainier as a young man and his description is spot on!)
Howard landed with a painful thud and found himself wedged in a deep and narrow part of the crevasse. He was able to free himself and worked himself to a narrow ledge where he sat for a few minutes trying to assess what had happened. He tore a page from a notebook he had carried and lit on fire and cast the flaming paper into the crevasse. As it burned and descended, Howard saw bare ground below and a way to safety.
Howard eventually made his way through the crevasse by following the gradually increasing light. At one point he found himself standing in a cavern with light being filtered in from above. As he looked around, he discovered he still had a ways to go since there was no clear opening to the surface above.
Then it happened. Howard observed a “form” slowly rise in front of him. As it took shape, he observed it was big. He described it as a “spectral thing, a Goliath in the shape of a man”. Howard went on to relate that “…it was malformed in the smallness of the head, the narrowness of the shoulders, and the breadth of the hips…”. (Howard in Ferrell, 1996.)
The beast was aware of Howard’s presence and issued a growling challenge. Howard froze as the hair on the back of his neck sprang to attention and he was overcome with a rank odor. Howard looked around in desperation for a route of retreat, but remained immobile in fear.
The two of them sized each other up. The Glacier Beast studied Howard intently. Howard doesn’t describe the length of standoff. It may have been a few heartbeats, or it may have been a minute or longer. Eventually, the Glacier Beast seemed to be satisfied and walked around Howard. Before disappearing into the multiple twists and turns of the sub-glacial cavern, the Glacier Beast turned and gazed again at Howard.
Then as quickly as it had begun, the encounter ended. Howard found himself alone, confused and frightened. Eventually Howard’s rational sense returned and he made his way out of the cavern and into the daylight. Howard considered that terror he experienced may have magnified his imagination, but he remained convinced that he had indeed had a standoff with the Glacier Beast.
I consider Howard fortunate. Things could have deteriorated extremely quickly if the encounter had escalated. Luckily nothing more occurred. Considering the location as well as the description of the beast’s shape, the odor and the behavior, I am identifying the Glacier Beast as a Boreal Sasquatch.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Howard’s encounter was reported in the March 1909 issue of the Alaska-Yukon Magazine. I suspect the actual encounter took place in the summer or fall of 1908 since the outcropping Howard intended to examine was not snow covered as it would be during the winter months. If it happened in 1908, the standoff occurred 108 years ago.
I have not received any other reports concerning sub-glacial standoffs, but things have not changed in this area of Alaska. Sightings and reports of tracks in Yakutat Bay and the surroundings areas continue to slowly make their way to Sasquatch Tracker.
Godspeed, loyal readers…
Ferrell, E. 1996. The Beast in the Glacier in Strange Stories of Alaska and the Yukon. Ken Sturgis – Epicenter Press Inc., Kenmore, WA.