In the foregoing descriptions the endeavor has been to make clear how widely the glaciers of Mount Rainier differ in character, in situation, and in size. They are not to be conceived as mere ice tongues radiating down the slopes of the volcano from an ice cap on its crown. There is no ice cap, properly speaking, and there has perhaps never been one at any time in the mountain's history, not even during the glacial epochs.
Several of the main ice streams head in the névés gathering about the summit craters, but a larger number originate in profound amphitheaters carved in the mountain's flanks, at levels fully 4,000 feet below the summit. In the general distribution of the glaciers the low temperatures prevailing at high altitudes have, of course, been a controlling factor; nevertheless in many instances their influence has been outbalanced by topographic features favoring local snow accumulation and by the heavy snowfalls occurring on the lower slopes.
Last Updated: 07-May-2007