East of the South Tahoma Glacier, heading against a great cleaver that descends from Point Success, lies a triangular ice field, or inter-glacier, named Pyramid Glacier. It covers a fairly smooth, gently sloping platform underlain by a heavy lava bed, and breaking off at its lower edge in precipitous, columnar cliffs. Into this platform a profound but narrow box canyon has been incised by an ice stream descending from the summit névés east of Point Success. This is the Kautz Glacier, an ice stream peculiar for its exceeding slenderness. (See title page.) On the map it presents almost a worm-like appearance, heightened perhaps by its strongly sinuous course. In spite of its meager width, which averages about 1,000 feet, the ice stream attains a length of almost 4 miles and descends to an altitude of 4,800 feet. This no doubt is to be attributed in large measure to the protecting influence of the box canyon.
It receives one tributary of importance, the Success Glacier, which heads in a cirque against the flanks of Point Success. This ice stream supplies probably one-third of the total bulk of the Kautz Glacier, as one may infer from the position of the medial moraine that develops at the point of confluence. In the lower course of the glacier this medial moraine grows in width and height until it assumes the proportions of a massive ridge, occupying about one-third of the breadth of the ice stream's surface.
A singularly fascinating spectacle is that which the moraine-covered lower end of the glacier presents from the heights of Van Trump Park. (Fig. 24.) A full 1,000 feet down one looks upon the ice stream as it curves around a sharp bend in its canyon.
A short distance below the glacier's terminus, the canyon contracts abruptly to a gorge only 300 feet in width. So resistant is the columnar basalt in this locality that the ice has been unable to hew out a wider passage. Not its entire volume, however, was squeezed through the narrow portal; there is abundant evidence showing that in glacial times when the ice stream was more voluminous it overrode the rock buttresses on the west side of the gorge.
VAN TRUMP GLACIER.
The name of P. B. Van Trump, the hardy pioneer climber of Mount Rainier, has been attached to the interglacier situated between the Kautz and the Nisqually glaciers. This ice body lies on the uneven surface of an extensive wedge that tapers upward to a sharp pointone of the remnants of the old crater rim. A number of small ice fields are distributed on this wedge, each ensconced in a hollow inclosed more or less completely by low ridges. (See title-page.) By gradually deploying each of these ice bodies has enlarged its site, and thus the dividing ridges have been converted into slender rock walls or cleavers. In many places they have even been completely consumed and the ice fields coalesce. The Van Trump Glacier is the most extensive of these composite ice fields. The rapid melting which it has suffered in the last decades, however, has gone far toward dismembering it; already several small ice strips are threatening to become separated from the main body.
In glacial times the Van Trump Glacier sent forth at least six lobes, most of which converged farther down in the narrow valleys traversing the attractive alpine region now known as Van Trump Park. This upland park owes its scenic charm largely to its manifold glacial features and is diversified by cirques, canyons, lakelets, moraines, and waterfalls.
Last Updated: 07-May-2007