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'''Mount Rainier''', or '''Mount Tahoma''', as it is traditionally called, is a large [[Volcano#Active|active]] [[stratovolcano]] (also known as a composite volcano) in [[Pierce County, Washington]], [[United States|USA]], located {{convert|54|mi|km|0}} southeast of [[Seattle, Washington|Seattle]]. It towers over the [[Cascade Range]] as the most [[Topographic prominence|prominent]] mountain in the [[contiguous United States]] and [[Cascade Volcanoes|Cascade Volcanic Arc]] at {{convert|14411|ft|m|0}}.<ref name="elevation">
''DONT READ THIS DAMN PAGE ...GET LOST.....!!!!'Mount RainNA''', or '''Mount Tahoma''', as it is traditionally called, is a large [[Volcano#Active|active]] [[stratovolcano]] (also known as a composite volcano) in [[Pierce County, Washington]], [[United States|USA]], located {{convert|54|mi|km|0}} southeast of [[Seattle, Washington|Seattle]]. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO It towers over the [[Cascade Range]] as the most [[Topographic prominence|prominent]] mountain in the [[contiguous United States]] and [[Cascade Volcanoes|Cascade Volcanic Arc]] at {{convert|14411|ft|m|0}}.<ref name="elevation" YOU SHOULD NEVER GO THERE COZ DAMN PIN2 PUKES
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Revision as of 13:55, 30 April 2010

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier 5917s.JPG
Mount Rainier as viewed from the northeast.
Highest point
Elevation 14,411 ft (4,392 m) [1][2]
Prominence 13,211 ft (4,027 m) Ranked 21st[3][4]
Isolation 1,177 kilometres (731 mi)
Listing Ultra
U.S. state high point
Coordinates 46°51′10″N 121°45′37″W / 46.85278°N 121.76028°W / 46.85278; -121.76028[5]
Parent range Cascade Range
Topo map USGS Mount Rainier West
Age of rock 500,000 years
Mountain type Stratovolcano
Volcanic arc/belt Cascade Volcanic Arc
Last eruption 1894[6]
First ascent 1870 by Hazard Stevens and P. B. Van Trump
Easiest route rock/ice climb via Disappointment Cleaver

DONT READ THIS DAMN PAGE ...GET LOST.....!!!!'Mount RainNA', or Mount Tahoma, as it is traditionally called, is a large active stratovolcano (also known as a composite volcano) in Pierce County, Washington, USA, located 54 miles (87 km) southeast of Seattle. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO It towers over the Cascade Range as the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and Cascade Volcanic Arc at 14,411 feet (4,392 m).Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). It is the highest mountain in Washington and the Cascade Range.

The mountain and the surrounding area are protected within Mount Rainier National Park. With 26 major glaciers[7] and 36 square miles (93 km2) of permanent snowfields and glaciers,[8] Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each over 1,000 feet (300 m) in diameter with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater. Geothermal heat from the volcano keeps areas of both crater rims free of snow and ice, and has formed the world's largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters.[9] A small crater lake about 130 by 30 feet (39.6 by 9.1 m) in size and 16 feet (5 m) deep, the highest in North America with a surface elevation of 14,203 feet (4,329 m), occupies the lowest portion of the west crater below more than 100 feet (30 m) of ice and is accessible only via the caves.[10] [11]

Mount Rainier has a topographic prominence of 13,211 feet (4,027 m), greater than that of K2 (13,189 feet (4,020 m)).[4] On clear days it dominates the southeastern horizon in most of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area to such an extent that residents sometimes refer to it simply as "the Mountain."[12] On days of exceptional clarity, it can also be seen from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Victoria, British Columbia.

The Carbon, Puyallup, Mowich, Nisqually, and Cowlitz Rivers begin at eponymous glaciers of Mount Rainier. The sources of the White River are Winthrop, Emmons, and Fryingpan Glaciers. The White, Carbon, and Mowich join the Puyallup River, which discharges into Commencement Bay at Tacoma; the Nisqually empties into Puget Sound east of Lacey; and the Cowlitz joins the Columbia River between Kelso and Longview.


Mount Rainier's earliest lavas are over 840,000 years old and are part of the Lily Formation (2.9 million to 840,000 years ago). The early lavas formed a "proto-Rainier" or an ancestral cone prior to the present-day cone. The present cone is over 500,000 years old.[13] The volcano is highly eroded, with glaciers on its slopes, and appears to be made mostly of andesite. Rainier likely once stood even higher than today at about 16,000 feet (4,900 m) before a major debris avalanche and the resulting Osceola Mudflow 5,000 years ago.

Hazard map
One of many emergency evacuation route signs in case of volcanic eruption or lahar around Mt. Rainier

In the past, Rainier has had large debris avalanches, and has also produced enormous lahars (volcanic mudflows) due to the large amount of glacial ice present. Its lahars have reached all the way to Puget Sound. Around 5,000 years ago, a large chunk of the volcano slid away and that debris avalanche helped to produce the massive Osceola Mudflow, which went all the way to the site of present-day Tacoma and south Seattle.[14] This massive avalanche of rock and ice removed the top 1,600 feet (500 m) of Rainier, bringing its height down to around 14,100 feet (4,300 m). About 530 to 550 years ago, the Electron Mudflow occurred, although this was not as large-scale as the Osceola Mudflow.

After the major collapse 5,000 years ago, subsequent eruptions of lava and tephra built up the modern summit cone until about as recently as 1,000 years ago. As many as 11 Holocene tephra layers have been found.

The most recent recorded volcanic eruption was between 1820 and 1854, but many eyewitnesses reported eruptive activity in 1858, 1870, 1879, 1882 and 1894 as well.[15] Although Rainier is an active volcano, as of 2009 there is no evidence of an imminent eruption.[16] However, an eruption could be devastating for all areas surrounding the volcano.

Lahars from Rainier pose the most risk to life and property, as many communities lie atop older lahar deposits. Not only is there much ice atop the volcano, the volcano is also slowly being weakened by hydrothermal activity. According to Geoff Clayton, a geologist with RH2, a repeat of the Osceola mudflow would destroy Enumclaw, Orting, Kent, Auburn, and most or all of Renton.[14] Such a mudflow might also reach down the Duwamish estuary and destroy parts of downtown Seattle, and cause tsunamis in Puget Sound and Lake Washington. According to USGS, about 150,000 people live on top of old lahar deposits of Rainier.[17] Rainier is also capable of producing pyroclastic flows as well as lava.

Climbers on Ingraham Glacier, above Little Tahoma.


Glaciers are among the most conspicuous and dynamic geologic features on Mount Rainier. They erode the volcanic cone and are important sources of streamflow for several rivers, including some that provide water for hydroelectric power and irrigation. Together with perennial snow patches, the 26 major glaciers cover about 36 square miles (93 km2) of the mountain's surface and have a volume of about 1 cubic mile (4.2 km3).[8]

Glaciers flow under the influence of gravity by the combined action of sliding over the rock on which they lie and by deformation, the gradual displacement between and within individual ice crystals. Maximum speeds occur near the surface and along the centerline of the glacier. During May, 1970, Nisqually Glacier was measured moving as fast as 29 inches (74 cm) per day. Flow rates are generally greater in summer than in winter, probably due to the presence of large quantities of meltwater at the glacier base.[8]

The size of glaciers on Mount Rainier has fluctuated significantly in the past. For example, during the last ice age, from about 25,000 to about 15,000 years ago, glaciers covered most of the area now within the boundaries of Mount Rainier National Park and extended to the perimeter of the present Puget Sound Basin.[8]

Between the 14th century and A.D. 1850, many of the glaciers on Mount Rainier advanced to their farthest extent downvalley since the last ice age. Many advances of this sort occurred worldwide during this time period known to geologists as the Little Ice Age. During the Little Ice Age, the Nisqually Glacier advanced to a position 650 to 800 feet (200 to 240 m) downvalley from the site of the Glacier Bridge, Tahoma and South Tahoma Glaciers merged at the base of Glacier Island, and the terminus of Emmons Glacier reached within 1.2 miles (1.9 km) of the White River Campground.[8]

Retreat of the Little Ice Age glaciers was slow until about 1920 when retreat became more rapid. Between the height of the Little Ice Age and 1950, Mount Rainier's glaciers lost about one-quarter of their length. Beginning in 1950 and continuing through the early 1980's, however, many of the major glaciers advanced in response to relatively cooler temperatures of the mid-century. The Carbon, Cowlitz, Emmons, and Nisqually Glaciers advanced during the late 1970's and early 1980's as a result of high snowfalls during the 1960's and 1970's. Since the early-1980's, however, many glaciers have been thinning and retreating and some advances have slowed.[8]

Human history

Artist rendering of Mount Tacoma from Commencement Bay, 1888.[18]

Mount Rainier was first known by the Native Americans as Talol, Tahoma, or Tacoma, from the Lushootseed word [təqʷúʔbəʔ] ("mother of waters") spoken by the Puyallup. Another interpretation is that "Tacoma", effectively means "larger than Koma (Kulshan)".[19] (a name for Mount Baker), cf. "Kobah" (Skagit: qwúbəʔ, "white sentinel", i.e. mountain").[20]

At the time of European contact, the river valleys and other areas near the mountain were inhabited by many Pacific Northwest tribes who hunted and gathered berries in its forests and mountain meadows. These included the Nisqually, Cowlitz, Yakama, Puyallup, and Muckleshoot.

Northwest side of Mount Rainier seen from Tacoma. Liberty Cap is the visible summit from this view, sitting atop the Mowich Face.[21]

Captain George Vancouver reached Puget Sound in 1792 and became the first European to see the mountain. He named it in honor of his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier.[22]

In 1833, Dr. William Fraser Tolmie explored the area looking for medicinal plants. Hazard Stevens and P. B. Van Trump received a hero's welcome in the streets of Olympia after their successful summit climb in 1870.[23][24] John Muir climbed Mount Rainier in 1888, and although he enjoyed the view, he conceded that it was best appreciated from below. Muir was one of many who advocated protecting the mountain. In 1893, the area was set aside as part of the Pacific Forest Reserve in order to protect its physical/economic resources: timber and watersheds.

Citing the need to also protect scenery and provide for public enjoyment, railroads and local businesses urged the creation of a national park in hopes of increased tourism. On March 2, 1899, President William McKinley established Mount Rainier National Park as America's fifth national park. Congress dedicated the new park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people"[25] and "... for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within said park, and their retention in their natural condition."[26]

In 1998, the United States Geological Survey began putting together the Mount Rainier Volcano Lahar Warning System to assist in the emergency evacuation of the Puyallup River valley in the event of a catastrophic debris flow. It is now run by the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management. Tacoma, at the mouth of the Puyallup, is only 37 miles (60 km) west of Rainier, and moderately sized towns such as Puyallup and Orting are only 27 and 20 miles (43 and 32 km) away, respectively.

Naming controversy

Although "Rainier" had been considered the official name of the mountain, Theodore Winthrop, in his posthumously published 1862 travel book The Canoe and the Saddle, referred to the mountain as "Tacoma" and for a time, both names were used interchangeably, although "Mt. Tacoma" was preferred in the city of Tacoma.[27][28][29]

In 1890, the United States Board on Geographic Names declared that the mountain would be known as "Rainier". Following this in 1897, the Pacific Forest Reserve became the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve, and the national park was established three years later. Despite this, there was still a movement to change the mountain's name to "Tacoma" and Congress was still considering a resolution to change the name as late as 1924.[29]

Subsidiary peaks

The three summits of Mount Rainier: Liberty Cap, Columbia Crest, and Point Success

The broad top of Mount Rainier contains three named summits. The highest is called Columbia Crest. The second highest summit is Point Success, 14,158 feet (4,315 m), at the southern edge of the summit plateau, atop the ridge known as Success Cleaver. It has a topographic prominence of about 138 feet (42 m), so it is not considered a separate peak. The lowest of the three summits is Liberty Cap, 14,112 feet (4,301 m), at the northwestern edge, which overlooks Liberty Ridge, the Sunset Amphitheater, and the dramatic Willis Wall. Liberty Cap has a prominence of 492 feet (150 m), and so would qualify as a separate peak under most strictly prominence-based rules. A prominence cutoff of 400 feet (122 m) is commonly used in Washington state.[30] However it is not usually considered a separate peak, due to the massive size of Mount Rainier, relative to which a 492-foot (150 m) drop is not very large.

High on the eastern flank of Mount Rainier is a peak known as Little Tahoma Peak, 11,138 feet (3,395 m), an eroded remnant of the earlier, much higher, Mount Rainier. It has a prominence of 858 feet (262 m), and it is almost never climbed in direct conjunction with Columbia Crest, so it is usually considered a separate peak. If considered separately from Mt. Rainier, Little Tahoma Peak would be the third highest mountain peak in Washington.

Climbing and recreation

Mountaineers descending from the summit avoid crevasses above Emmons Flats Camp

Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing the largest glaciers in the U.S. south of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit. Climbing teams demand experience in glacier travel, self-rescue, and wilderness travel. About 8,000 to 13,000 people attempt the climb each year,[31] about 90% via routes from Camp Muir on the southeast flank.[32] Most of the rest ascend Emmons Glacier via Camp Schurman on the northeast. About half of the attempts are successful, with weather and conditioning being the most common reasons for failure.

About three mountaineering deaths each year occur due to rock and ice fall, avalanche, falls, and hypothermia associated with severe weather. The worst mountaineering accident on Mount Rainier occurred in 1981, when eleven people lost their lives in an ice fall on the Ingraham Glacier.[33] This was the largest number of fatalities on Mount Rainier in a single incident since 32 people were killed in a 1946 plane crash on the South Tahoma Glacier.[34]

Hiking, backcountry skiing[35], photography, and camping are popular in the park. Hiking trails, including the Wonderland Trail (a 93 miles (150 km) circumnavigation of the peak), provide access to the backcountry. Mount Rainier is also popular for winter sports, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. In summer, visitors pass through vast meadows of wildflowers, on trails emanating from historic Paradise Inn.

Washington state quarter

Washington State Quarter.

The Washington state quarter, which was released on April 11, 2007, features Mount Rainier and a salmon.[36][37]

See also


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference elevation was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference Signani was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Mount RainNA". Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  4. ^ a b "World Top 50 by Prominence". Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Mount RainNA". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  6. ^ "Rainier". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ Topinka, Lyn (2002). "Mount Rainier Glaciers and Glaciations". USGS. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: Driedger, C.L. "Glaciers on Mount Rainier". Retrieved 2010-04-21. (Open-File Report 92-474). 
  9. ^ Zimbelman, D. R. (2000). "Fumaroles in ice caves on the summit of Mount Rainier; preliminary stable isotope, gas, and geochemical studies". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 97 (1-4): 457–473. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(99)00180-8.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  10. ^ Kiver, Eugene P. (1971). "Summit Firn Caves, Mount Rainier, Washington". Science. 173 (3994): 320–322. doi:10.1126/science.173.3994.320. PMID 17809214.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  11. ^ Kiver, Eugene P. (1975). "Firn Caves in the Volcanic Craters of Mount Rainier, Washington" (abstract only). The NSS Bulletin. 37 (3): 45–55.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  12. ^ Bruce Barcott (April 27, 1999). "The Mountain is Out". Western Washington University. Retrieved 2007-03-23. 
  13. ^ Sisson, T.W. (1995). History and Hazards of Mount Rainier, Washington. USGS. Open-File Report 95-642. 
  14. ^ a b Parchman, F. (2005-10-19). "The Super Flood". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  15. ^ Harris, Stephen L. (2005). "Mount Rainier: America's Most Dangerous Volcano". Fire Mountains of the West (3rd ed.). Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. pp. 299–334. ISBN 0-87842-511-X. 
  16. ^ "Mount Rainier Volcano". United States Geological Survey. 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  17. ^ Driedger, C.L. (March 1, 2005). "Mount Rainier – Learning to Live with Volcanic Risk". Fact Sheet 034-02. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-10-30.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  18. ^ Winsey, H. J. (1888). The Great Northwest. St Paul, MN: Northern News Co. frontpiece. 
  19. ^ Clark, Ella E. (2003-02-03). Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23926-1. 
  20. ^ Beckey, Fred (January 2009). Cascade Alpine Guide. Vol.3 (3rd ed.). Mountaineers Books. ISBN 1-59485-136-0. 
  21. ^ "Mowich" is the Chinook Jargon word for "deer"
  22. ^ "Historical Notes: Vancouver's Voyage". Mount Rainier Nature Notes. 7 (14). 1929. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  23. ^ Haines, Aubrey L. (1999) [1962]. Mountain fever : historic conquests of Rainier. Original publisher: Oregon Historical Society; Republished by University of Washington. ISBN 0295978473. 
  24. ^ "Hazard Stevens photographs, c. 1840s-1918". University of Oregon Libraries Historic Photograph Collections. University of Oregon. March 2006. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  25. ^ "U.S. Code: Title 16 Chapter 1 Subchapter XI § 91". Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  26. ^ "U.S. Code: Title 16 Chapter 1 Subchapter XI § 92". Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  27. ^ Catton, Theodore (November 30, 2006). National Park, City Playground: Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century. A Samuel and Althea Stroum Book. Seattle, United States and London, United Kingdom: University of Washington Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-295-98643-3. 
  28. ^ Winthrop, Theodore (1866). "VII. Tacoma". The canoe and the saddle : adventures among the northwestern rivers and forests, and Isthmiana (8th ed.). Boston: Ticknor and Fields. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  29. ^ a b "Rainier". Snopes. March 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  30. ^ John Roper. "Washington 100 Highest Peaks with 400 feet of prominence". The Northwest Peakbaggers Asylum. Retrieved 2007-03-23.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  31. ^ "MORA Climbing Statistics". National Park Service. 30 July 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-01-01. 
  32. ^ "Camp Muir, Mount Rainier, Washington". University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections. University of Washington. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  33. ^ Hatcher, Candy (2000-03-30). "Ghosts of Rainier: Icefall in 1981 entombed 11 climbers". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  34. ^ "Backcountry Skiing Guide to Mount Rainier, Washington". Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  35. ^ "Governor Gregoire Announces Her Choice for Washington's Quarter". Washington State Quarter. Washington State Office of the Governor. 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  36. ^ Green, Sara Jean (2007-04-12). "Washington quarter makes debut". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-04-12. 

External links

University of Washington Libraries, Digital Collections:

  • Lawrence Denny Lindsley Photographs, Landscape and nature photography of Lawrence Denny Lindsley, including photographs of scenes around Mount Rainier.
  • The Mountaineers Collection, Photographic albums and text documenting the Mountaineers official annual outings undertaken by club members from 1907–1951, includes 3 Mt. Rainier albums (ca. 1912, 1919, 1924).
  • Henry M. Sarvant Photographs, photographs by Henry Mason Sarvant depicting his climbing expeditions to Mt. Rainier and scenes of the vicinity from 1892-1912.
  • Alvin H. Waite Photographs Photographs of Mt. Rainier by Alvin H. Waite, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.