THE PEAKS AND LANDFORMS of

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

John Roper

written April 1996

 

Mount Rainier National Park (MRNP) is still (1996) largely a mystery to me. My native state's highest 14,410-foot summit has beckoned a couple of times, and I've made separate trips to Liberty Cap 14112 feet and Little Tahoma 11138 feet on Top 100 quests. But growing up in the North Cascades, Mount Rainier always seemed a long ways south, attracting climbers of a whole different mind set.

 

Landforms and Maps of Mount Rainier National Park

Over the years, my mountain interests have drifted south as the knowledge holes up north have been filling in, so now there's a new fascination with the state's symbol. For a while now, I'd thought of getting around to listing the Rainier-associated peaks, just to give myself a fresh set of climbing goals to work on. Then out of the blue, Fred Beavon lit a fire under my tail when he sent me his list of the "Named High Points in Mount Rainier National Park," a great tally of 118 summits.

 

That got me looking at the maps in earnest. I started writing down all the named mountainous landforms I could see (peaks, caps, mounts, mountains, cliffs, crests, walls, spires, bars, pinnacles, ranges, crests, ridges, "islands," divides, faces, prows, cleavers, rocks, benchmarks, points, vistas, divides, etc.), and their elevations. It takes 14 different 7.5-minute USGS Quads to cover the entire Park. The original eight 7.5-minute maps of the NW section are dated 1971. Along with the east border “provisional” maps, dated 1988, and the southern border maps, dated 1989, they all fit together like this:

 

 

 

Golden

Lakes

 

 

 

 

Mowich

Lake

 

 

Sunrise

 

White

River

Park

 

 

Norse

Peak

 

 

Mount

Wow

 

 

 

 

Mount

Rainier

West

 

 

Mount

Rainier

East

 

 

Chinook

Pass

 

 

Cougar

Lake

 

 

 

 

Wahpenayo

Peak

 

 

 

 

 

Tatoosh

Lakes

 

 

 

Ohanapecosh

 

Hot Springs

 

 

White

Pass

 

Elevations

It was a little hard to decide exactly what the elevations of some of the less distinct landforms were, since they often did not have a precise top. If the feature ended in a summit, it was given that height (e.g., Sunset Ridge and Liberty Ridge end at Liberty Cap, 14112'). If the cleaver, or cliff, or point petered out indistinctly on the map, the highest earth (as opposed to ice) elevation shown on the map was recorded.

 

Prominences

Next it was obvious that there are a lot of minor peaks and features around Mount Rainier that have names on the maps, but that are not particularly prominent and distinct. This led to calculating the prominence of each of the landforms, as well as the current 7.5-minute USGS maps allow.

 

The "prominence" of a peak/landform is the difference (in feet) between the top of the peak and the low point on the highest ridge running to a higher point.  This sounds simple enough to calculate, but the maps and methods are open to interpretation. There are at least four ways to calculate a peak's prominence. (See box.)

 

For the various "100 Highest Peaks" lists in Washington or other states or locales, I think it is preferable to adopt the "clean" (no argument) prominence method, that is, making the saddle as high as the map allows, and the peak as low as allowed, to make sure that a peak's prominence is never overstated.

 

However, for this exercise in the MRNP, the prominences are calculated by stating the peak elevation, and then making the saddle elevation the last contour elevation below the pass rather than above the pass. This was done primarily because little things like Tokaloo Spire and Beehive would work out to having only one-foot of prominence if the "clean" method was used.

 

To the three or four other "prominence purists" in the state, I apologize. To make your lives happy and "clean," simply subtract 40 feet (one contour interval) from the prominences shown on this list.

 

Zero Prominence

For many ridges and cleavers, a prominence of zero is given, only because these are more linear, slope-related, than peak-like landforms.

 

It is also worth noting that this list was a map-reading exercise. No doubt, field observations, past and future, will be able to fine-tune these rough prominence numbers, especially on the small-prominence points.

 

The prominence column may not make much sense or difference to many, whose eyes are now blurring over, but in reality, it highlights the significant separate peaks in the Park. If the summit stands 400 feet or more above all the nearby surrounding land, it generally "looks like a real mountain" when you are actually in view of it. There are 221 landforms identified on this list, but only 66 (less than 30%) qualify as significant by the 400-foot rule.

 

I enjoyed finding that at least 14 of these 400-foot rule peaks were "unknown" and unnamed on the current USGS maps, and not mentioned in the climber/hiker guides. Surely Rainierophiles or rangers have regarded them though.

 

Because many of the popular climbs in the Park have prominences of only 200 to 300 feet, this list was extended to include most of the 200+ foot prominence, unnamed points on the maps as well.

 

New Elevations

Summits in the park that had a precise elevation on the 1955 Mount Rainier National Park quad (1:62,500) often show only with an imprecise closed contour on the newer 7.5-minute (1:24,000) maps. Many peaks "lost" or "gained" a few feet of elevation from the 1955 map to the current maps.

 

What Native Washingtonian born before 1960 doesn't remember when Rainier was only 14,408 feet? We loved it when the USGS gave us another two feet, though they still don't accept the satellite inflation to 14,411.1 feet.

 

Unofficial Names

The unofficial names noted for most of the unnamed summits are taken from Fred Beckey 's Cascade Alpine Guide , or derived from a nearby feature. Some are the Indian name (Chinook jargon) equivalent of a nearby feature. Some of the unofficial names listed are only to give the author a name, instead of a number, to remember. No offense intended. Call them nothing, or call them what you want.

 

For example, "Kwass Kalakala" (fearful bird) means pigeon in Chinook jargon, and is next to Pigeon Peak . "Hyas Pishpish" (big cat), at the headwaters of Panther Creek, is Chinook for panther. "Hee Hee Chuck" means laughing water, and "Last Laugh Mountain" is the last peak on the ridge south of Laughing Water Creek. " Chinook Peak " is near Chinook Pass. "Yak PiLe" is a bump-peak just south of where (Yak)ima, (Pi)erce, and (Le) wis counties come together.

 

My eyes got a little bleary by the end of this project, so if you find any errors, omissions, or oversights, I'd like to hear about them. Finally, if anyone ever completes this list, please let me know. I'd like to shake your hand, and may offer to pay for your first psychotherapy session, or wish you a happy divorce.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
PEAKS AND LANDFORMS, NAMED AND UNNAMED
RANKED BY HEIGHT
John Roper, 4/10/1996  
    USGS   Maximum 
Elev Name 7.5' Map Saddle Prominence
14410   Columbia Crest MRW 1300 13110
14158   Point Success MRW 14000 158
14158   Success Cleaver MRW   0
14158   Kautz Cleaver MRW   0
14112   Liberty Cap MRW 13600 512
14112   Liberty Ridge MRW^/ML   0
14112   Sunset Ridge MRW   0
13880 + Tahoma Cleaver MRW 13840 40
13760 + Willis Wall MRW^/ML   0
13720 + Curtis Ridge MRW^/ML 13680 40
13520 + Wapowety Cleaver MRW   0
13400 + Ptarmigan Ridge ML/MRW^   0
13280 + Russell Cliff MRW   0
13000 + Mowich Face MRW^/ML   0
12920 + Nisqually Cleaver MRE/MRW^   0
12760 + Cowlitz Cleaver MRE   0
12660   Gibralter Rock MRE   0
12440 + Disappointment Cleaver MRE   0
11680 + 11700 Gendarme" MRW 11592 88
11560 + St Andrews Rock MRW 11400 160
11560 + Puyallup Cleaver MRW 11400 160
11434   Cathedral Rocks MRE 11240 194
11138   Little Tahoma MRE 10280 858
11080   Lower St Andrews Rock" MRW 10992 88
11000 + Beehive MRE 10960 40
10840 + Thumb Rock" MRW   0
10640 + Emmons Cleaver' MRE   0
10188   Muir Peak' MRE 10080 108
10040 + Red Tower" MRW   0
9720 + Steamboat Prow MRE 9480 240
9584   Anvil Rock MRE 9520 64
9323   Whitman Crest MRE 9040 283
9200   Moon Rocks" MRE   0
8886   K Spire MRE 8600 286
8690   Mount Ruth S 8600 90
8446 ^ Whitman Benchmark MRE   0
8364   Observation Rock ML 8080 284
8200 + Ohanapecosh Pinnacle' MRE 8040 160
8080 + Success Divide MRW   0
7870   Echo Rock ML 7640 230
7828   Third Burroughs Mtn" S 7400 428
7800 + Sugar Loaf' MRE 7789 11
7690   Glacier Island MRW 7280 410
7684   Tokaloo Rock MRW 7440 244
7605   Cowlitz Chimneys, Main CP 6600 1005
7520 + Needle Rock ML 7440 80
7480 + Tokaloo Spire MRW 7440 40
Elev Name Map Saddle Prominence
7450   Cowlitz Rocks MRE 7080 370
7421   Cowlitz Chimney, Central" CP 7080 341
7402   Second Burroughs Mtn" S 7000 402
7400 + Banshee Peak" CP 7000 400
7385   McClure Rock MRE   0
7317   Mt Fremont S 6720 597
7288   Goat Island Mtn S^/MRE 6360 928
7280 + Meany Crest MRE 7200 80
7200 + Mt Fremont (per map name) S 7080 120
7181   Mt Fremont Lookout S 7120 61
7176   Colonnade MRW 6920 256
7163   Williwakas Point' MRE 7080 83
7160 + First Burroughs Mtn" S 7106 54
7137   Old Desolate S^/ML 6080 1057
7078   Skyscraper Mtn S 6640 438
7040 + Palisades Peak' WRP 6400 640
7040 + Sourdough Mtns=Palisades Pk WRP 6400 640
7026   Sluiskin Mtn, The Chief S 6080 946
7017   Antler Peak S 6600 417
7015   Cowlitz Chimney,North" CP 6600 415
7006   Dege Peak WRP 6680 326
7000 + Dege Pk, West' WRP 6760 240
6998   Crystal Mtn=Silver King" WRP 4694 2304
6971   Tatoosh Range (HP=Unicorn) TL^/WP/MRW 4840 2131
6971   Unicorn Peak TL 4840 2131
6962   Marcus Peak WRP 6440 522
6960 + Silver Queen" WRP 6640 320
6960 + Sluiskin Mtn, The Squaw" S 6520 440
6951   Dawn Peak' S 6720 231
6949   The Panhandler' MRE 6680 269
6937   Pyramid Peak MRW 6400 537
6920 + Panorama Point MRE 6880 40
6904   Chinook Peak' WRP 6360 544
6861   The Throne" WRP 6720 141
6840 + Grubstake Point' NP 6400 440
6840 + Crystal Mountain (Ski)' NP 6400 440
6800 + Tillicum Point ML 6720 80
6800 + Sluiskin Mtn, Papooses" S 6600 200
6796   Three Way Peak" NP 6520 276
6790   Tamanos Mtn CP 6000 790
6786   McNeeley Peak S 6440 346
6776   Northway Peak' NP 6600 176
6760 + Boundary Peak TL 6680 80
6716 ^ Andrew Benchmark MRW 6600 116
6715   Crescent Mountain ML 6400 315
6710   Dewey Peak" CL 5432 1278
6708   Sour Tooth' WRP 6400 308
6670   Puyallup Mtn' MRW 6200 470
6640 + Cowlitz Chimney, NE' CP 6400 240
6620   Slide Mtn, S Pk' WRP 5920 700
6600 + Baker Point S   0
6600 + Governors Ridge CP 5320 1280
Elev Name Map Saddle Prominence
6595   Crystal Peak" WRP 6280 315
6566 ^ Barrier BM on Govnrs Ridge WRP 6120 446
6562   Pinnacle Peak MRE 5960 602
6560 + Stevens Peak TL 5760 800
6524   Manatee Mtn' MRE 6080 444
6521   Barrier Peak CP 6200 321
6500   Mineral Mountain ML 6360 140
6492   Fay Peak ML 5960 532
6480 + The Palisades WRP   0
6480 + Mother Mountain ML 6160 320
6480 + Governors Needle" CP 6400 80
6454   Mt Pleasant ML 6240 214
6452   Naches Peak CP 5432 1020
6440 + Basalt Cliff MRW   0
6440 + The Castle MRE 6200 240
6406   Hyas Pishpish' CL 5880 526
6400 + Golden Gate MRE   0
6388   Middle Coug' CL 5920 468
6385   Hessong Rock ML 6160 225
6375   Second Mother Mtn" ML 5920 455
6370   Plummer Peak MRE 5520 850
6360 + Slide Mtn, N Pk' WRP 6200 160
6358   Burnt-Lost' WRP 6080 278
6350   Little Coug' CL 5960 390
6339   Slide Mtn WRP 6200 139
6337   Seymour Peak CP 5880 457
6336 ^ Glacier Vista Benchmark MRE   0
6327   Burnt-Ada' WRP 6000 327
6322   Brown Peak WRP 6120 202
6283   Iron Mountain MRW 5560 723
6280 + Copper Mountain MRW 5960 320
6280 + Deadwood Peak' WRP 5640 640
6240 + Pacific Point ML 6200 40
6231   Wahpenayo Peak WPk 5400 831
6226   Yakima Peak CP 5760 466
6200 + Independence Ridge S^/ML 5760 440
6199   Double Peak CP 5400 799
6160 + Chenuis Mountain ML 5800 360
6120 + Sunrise Point WRP   0
6120 + Castle Peak ML 5920 200
6120   Double Peak, NE Pk" CP 5880 240
6108   Scarface S 5360 748
6094   Aurora Peak MRW 5760 334
6080 + Jeanette Heights MRW   0
6069   Sunrise Ridge WRP 5800 269
6057   Peak 6057 CL 5320 737
6040 + Wahpenayo Pk, SE' WPk 5800 240
6040 + Mount Wow MW 3880 2160
6012   Lane Peak MRW 5640 372
6010   Mount Ararat MRW 5360 650
6006   Denman Peak MRE 5800 206
6000 + Cushman Crest MRW   0
Elev Name Map Saddle Prominence
6000 + Chutla Peak MRW 5560 440
6000 + Tyee Peak ML 5920 80
6000 + Yak PiLe' CL 5680 320
5982   Peak 5982 CL 5520 462
5960 + Alta Vista MRE 5880 80
5958   Eagle Peak MRW 5680 278
5941   Panther Crag' CL 5640 301
5935   Mildred Point MRW 5840 95
5930   Emerald Ridge MRW^/MW 5600 330
5920 + Tolmie Peak GL 5120 800
5920 + Yellowstone Cliffs ML   0
5920 + Northern Crags ML 5880 40
5840 + Grand Park Mtn' S 5360 480
5834   Shriner Peak CP 5040 794
5804   Third Mother Mtn" ML 5520 284
5786   Mazama Ridge MRE   0
5760 + Wallace Peak ML 5160 600
5756   Buell Peak CP 5520 236
5713 ^ Sunset Benchmark GL 5640 73
5683   Howard Peak GL 5520 163
5680 + Redstone Peak S 5400 280
5648   Stevens Ridge MRE 5440 208
5614   Tenas Peak' MW 5360 254
5610   Peak 5610 CL 5120 490
5608   Kwass Kalakala' S 4920 688
5577   Satulick Mtn MRW 5280 297
5570   Cowlitz Divide CP^/OHS 5200 370
5556   Hee Hee Chuck' CL 4800 756
5508   Florence Peak GL 5120 388
5485   Gobblers Knob MW 4960 525
5480 + Elizabeth Ridge ML^/GL 4960 520
5465   Arthur Peak ML 5120 345
5460   Fawn Ridge WRP 5360 100
5421   Peak 5421 CP 5040 381
5418   Gobblers Wobble' MW 5120 298
5409   Bald Rock CP 5080 329
5380 ~ Rust Ridge (HP=Howard) GL^/ML 5120 260
5310   Gove Peak ML 5240 70
5299   Last Laugh Mtn' OHS 4400 899
5280 + Indian Bar MRE   0
5280 + Goat Island Rock ML   0
5255 ~ Alki Crest (HP=Tolmie) GL 5200 55
5220 + Nisqually Vista MRE   0
5208   Tirzah Peak ML 5040 168
5200 + Faraway Rock MRE   0
5135   St Jacobs Point' CP 4720 415
5120 + Berry Peak GL 4960 160
5028   Peak 5028 OHS 4400 628
4952   Rampart Ridge MRW/WP 4720 232
4927   Division Rock ML 4880 47
4920 + Two Bumps' CL 4680 240
4907   Longmire Point' WPk 4600 307
Elev Name Map Saddle Prominence
4880 + Martin Peak ^GL 4520 360
4880 + Virginia Peak GL 4720 160
4844   Inspiration Point MRE   0
4800 + Aurora Pkoint' MRW   0
4800 + Paul Peak GL 4400 400
4800 + Eagle Cliff ML   0
4680 + The Bench MRE 4640 40
4680 + August Peak GL 4520 160
4680 + Klapatche Ridge MW 4520 160
4678   Tumtum Peak WPk^/MRW 3560 1118
4560 + Sweet Peak GL 4320 240
4560 + Nat-Nat Point' WPs 4400 160
4473   Backbone Ridge OHS 4120 353
4400 + Echo Cliffs ML   0
4280 + Pigeon Peak S 4240 40
4200 + Ricksecker Point MRW   0
3760 + Cougar Rock MRW   0
3720 + The Ramparts MRW   0
           
           
Symbols:      
' Unofficial name, not on map      
" Unofficial name in Cascade Alpine Guide, not on map    
HP High Point      
Peak elevation could be 39 feet higher      
^ High Point is on this quad      
~ Elevation shown is a mid-ridge point      
^ Benchmark      
           
USGS 7.5' Quad Abbreviations      
CP Chinook Pass NP Norse Peak  
CL Cougar Lake OHS Ohanapecosh Hot Springs
GL Golden Lakes S Sunrise  
MRE Mount Rainier East TL Tatoosh Lakes  
MRW Mount Rainier West WPk Wahpenayo Peak
MW Mount Wow WPs White Pass  
ML Mowich Lake WRP White River Park  

 

Ways to Calculate Prominence

JR

 As an exercise, let's try to figure the prominence of a theoretical peak that shows as the 7000-foot contour, where the pass/saddle that connects it to the next higher peak shows as the 6000+ foot contour, by the various ways:

 

1) "Clean Prominence Way" (or Pmin) = 960 feet

Dictum : Let no one dispute that this peak qualifies for this prominence level.

Therefore, make the peak as low as the map allows, and make the saddle/pass to the next higher peak as high as the map allows, by using the first contour elevation above the pass.

For example, a 7000+ foot contour peak remains 7000 feet and the 6000+ pass would be figured at 6000' + 40'= 6040', for a prominence of 960 feet.

 

2) "Best Possible Prominence Way" (or Pmax) = 1040 feet

Dictum : Make the peak's prominence look as good as possible.

Make the peak as high as possible, and make the pass/saddle as low as the map allows.

For example, a 7000+ foot contour peak could be as high as 7039.9+ feet on a 40-foot contour map, and the 6000+ foot pass could be as low as 6000 feet, so the best prominence possible is ~1040 feet.

 

3) "Call a Spade a Spade Way" = 1000 feet.

Dictum : Whatever the map "says" the elevation of the peak and the pass is, is.

For example: A 7000+ foot contour peak = 7000', and a 6000+ foot contour pass = 6000', so the prominence is 1000 feet.

 

4) "Split the Difference Way" (or Paverage) = 1000 feet.

Dictum : Add 20 feet (1/2 of a 40 foot contour) to the peak, and add 20 feet to the pass before the subtraction.

For example: A 7000+ foot contour peak = 7020' (+/- 20 feet), and a 6000+ foot contour pass = 6020' (+/- 20 feet), for a prominence of 1000 feet.