Mount Rainier

Coordinates: 46°51′10″N 121°45′37″W / 46.8528857°N 121.7603744°W / 46.8528857; -121.7603744
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Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier with Tacoma, Washington in front.
Highest point
Elevation14,412 ft (4,393 m)
Prominence13,211 ft (4,027 m)ranked 21st
Isolation1,177 km (731 mi) Edit this on Wikidata
ListingU.S. state high point
Coordinates46°51′10″N 121°45′37″W / 46.8528857°N 121.7603744°W / 46.8528857; -121.7603744[1]
Parent rangeCascade Range
Topo mapUSGS Mount Rainier West
Age of rock500,000 years
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltCascade Volcanic Arc
Last eruption1894 [2]
First ascent1870 by Hazard Stevens and P. B. Van Trump
Easiest routerock/ice climb via Disappointment Cleaver

Mount Rainier (/rˈnɪər/), known to Native Americans in the region as Tahoma, Tacoma, Tacobet, or təqʷubəʔ,[a][3][4] is a large volcano in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest located in Mount Rainier National Park about 59 miles (95 km) south of Seattle.[5] Reaching to 14,411 ft (4,392 m),[6] it is the tallest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington and the Cascades.

Because it has a high risk of erupting in the future and is close to a high population, Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world and is listed as a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior.[7] It hosts a large amount of glacial ice which could produce massive lahars (volcanic mudflows) that threaten the entire Puyallup River valley. According to the United States Geological Survey, "about 80,000 people and their homes are at risk in Mount Rainier's lahar-hazard zones."[8]

Between 1950 and 2018, 439,460 people climbed Mount Rainier and 84 people are reported to have died in accidents on the volcano between 1947 and 2018.[9][10]

Name[change | change source]

Mount Rainier was known to the locally native Salish people as Talol, Tacoma, or Tahoma. There are several theories about where the native name comes from, including it possibly meaning 'mother of waters' to the Puyallup Tribe, 'snow-covered mountain', or 'larger than Mount Baker'.[11][3][12][13] Other names originally used include Tahoma, Tacobeh, and Pooskaus.[14]

The current name was given by George Vancouver who named it after his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier.[15] The map from Lewis and Clark's expedition in 1804-1806 called it "Mt. Regniere" even though Rainier had been the official name of the mountain. Theodore Winthrop in a travel book published after he died called the mountain Tacoma and for many years the two names were commonly used to refer to the mountain. Mount Tacoma was the preferred name in the nearby city of Tacoma.[16][17]

In 1890, the United States Board on Geographic Names determined that the volcano would officially be known as Rainier.[18] In 1897, the Pacific Forest Reserve, which included Mount Rainier, was renamed the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve and the national park, that it sits in, also named Mount Rainier was created three years later. A movement to change the mountain's name to Tacoma continues to exist. Congress considered changing the mountain's name in 1924 and after Alaska's Denali was officially changed from Mount McKinley in 2015 the debate was renewed.[19][20][21]

Local area[change | change source]

Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and the Cascade Range. It is located just east of Eatonville, to the southeast of Tacoma, and to the south of Seattle.[22] Rainier has a topographic prominence of 13,210 ft (4,030 m), which is greater than the prominence of the world's second-tallest mountain - K2.[23] On clear days it dominates the horizon from most of the Seattle-Tacoma area so that most locals simply call it "the Mountain".[24] On very clear days, it can be seen from as far away as Corvallis, Oregon and Victoria, British Columbia.[25]

Mount Rainier has 26 major glaciers.[26] In total, there are 36 sq mi (93 km2) of permanent snow and glacial ice on the mountain making it the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states.[27] At the top are two Volcanic craters, both more than 1,000 ft (300 m) in diameter. The east crater is larger and overlaps the western crater. Heat from the volcano keeps areas along the edge of the craters free of snow and ice and has created the world's largest glacier cave network inside the craters with almost 2 mi (3.2 km) of passages.[28][29] A small crater lake that is about 16 ft (4.9 m) deep lies in the ice caves in the west crater and is the highest elevation lake in North America.[30][31]

The Carbon, Puyallup, Mowich, Nisqually, and Cowlitz Rivers all begin on the slopes of Mount Rainier at the bottom of glaciers of that share their names with those of the rivers. The White River's water comes from three glaciers on the mountain. The White, Carbon, and Mowich all flow into the Puyallup River which ends at the Puget Sound in Tacoma. The Nisqually River empties into the Puget Sound near Lacey, Washington, and the Cowlitz flows to the Columbia River near Kelso, Washington.

A panorama of the south face of Mount Rainier

Secondary peaks[change | change source]

Little Tahoma Peak to the left of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier has a large summit area containing three peaks. The highest is called Columbia Crest followed by Point Success reaching 14,158 ft (4,315 m) and Liberty Cap which is 14,112 ft (4,301 m) above sea level and overlooks Liberty Ridge, the Sunset Amphitheater, and Wallis Wall.[32] High on the east side of Mount Rainier is a rocky summit called Little Tahoma Peak. It is 11,138 ft (3,395 m) above sea level and is a remnant from when Mount Rainier was much taller. Most climbers don't climb to both Columbia Crest and Little Tahoma Peak in the same trip, so it is usually considered by them to be a separate peak.[33][34]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Mount Rainier". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  2. "Rainier". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Puget Sound Geographical names". Tulalip Tribes of Washington. 16 January 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  4. Longoria, Ruth (September 26, 1999). "Puget hits the shore". The Olympian. p. A12. Retrieved March 10, 2022 – via
  5. Egan, Timothy (August 22, 1999). "Respecting Mount Rainier". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  6. Signani, PLS, Larry (2000-07-19). "The Height of Accuracy". Point of Beginning (Trade Magazine). BNP Media. Archived from the original on 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  7. "Decade Volcanoes". CVO. United States Geological Survey. Archived from the original on 2012-06-03.
  8. Driedger, C.L.; Scott, K.M. (2005-03-01). "Mount Rainier – Learning to Live with Volcanic Risk". Fact Sheet 034-02. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  9. "Annual Climbing Statistics". National Parks Service. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  10. Emma P. DeLoughery; Thomas G. DeLoughery (14 June 2022). "Review and Analysis of Mountaineering Accidents in the United States from 1947–2018". High Altitude Medicine & Biology. 23 (2): 114–118. doi:10.1089/ham.2021.0085. PMID 35263173. S2CID 247361980. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  11. Clark, Ella E. (2003). Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. University of California Press. ISBN 0520239261.
  12. Bright, William (2004). Native American Placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 469. ISBN 080613576X.
  13. Beckey, Fred (2009). Cascade Alpine Guide. Vol. 3 (3rd ed.). Mountaineers Books. ISBN 978-1594851360.
  14. "Is it time to rename Mount Rainier to its former native name?". Archived from the original on 2014-10-21.
  15. "Historical Notes: Vancouver's Voyage". Mount Rainier Nature Notes. VII (14). 1929. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  16. Catton, Theodore (2006). National Park, City Playground: Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century. A Samuel and Althea Stroum Book. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0295986433.
  17. 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. ISBN 0665377622. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  18. Orth, Donald J. (1992). "The Creation" (PDF). Meridian. Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (2): 18. OCLC 18508074. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  19. Blethen, C. B. (February 3, 1924). "Academic Dispute Flares Forth; Mount Rainier's Name at Issue". The Seattle Times.
  20. "The Outdoor World: Mt. Rainier's Name Stands". Recreation. Vol. LVII, no. 3. Outdoor World Publishing Company. September 1917. p. 142. OCLC 12010285. Retrieved August 31, 2015 – via Google Books.
  21. Seattle Times editorial board (2015-09-01). "After McKinley, it's time to consider renaming Rainier". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  22. "Mount Rainier".
  23. "World Top 50 by Prominence". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  24. Bruce Barcott (1999-04-27). "The Mountain is Out". Western Washington University. Archived from the original on 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  25. "View of Rainier". Nature Spot. Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  26. Topinka, Lyn (2002). "Mount Rainier Glaciers and Glaciations". United States Geological Survey.
  27. Template:USGS
  28. Zimbelman, D. R.; Rye, R. O.; Landis, G. P. (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. Bibcode:2000JVGR...97..457Z. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(99)00180-8.
  29. Sandi Doughton (2007-10-25). "Exploring Rainier's summit steam caves". The News Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  30. Kiver, Eugene P.; Mumma, Martin D. (1971). "Summit Firn Caves, Mount Rainier, Washington". Science. 173 (3994): 320–322. Bibcode:1971Sci...173..320K. doi:10.1126/science.173.3994.320. PMID 17809214. S2CID 21323576.
  31. Kiver, Eugene P.; Steele, William K. (1975). "Firn Caves in the Volcanic Craters of Mount Rainier, Washington". The NSS Bulletin. 37 (3): 45–55. Archived from the original (abstract only) on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2023-01-01.
  32. "Scientific Exploration Of Mount Rainier". Mount Rainier: Its Human History Associations. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2007-03-26. Retrieved 2023-01-01.
  33. "Little Tahoma Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  34. "Little Tahoma". Mount Rainier National Park. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-09-29.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Pronounced teh-KWOH-beh

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Mount Rainier at Wikimedia Commons