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A Once-Big American Glacier Has Melted to Nothing

The Hinman Glacier was once used by climbers, but over the past 40 years has disappeared

There are countless glaciers that have vanished due to melting over the past few decades, with one of the most recent being the Hinman Glacier in Washington’s North Cascades. The glacier was once a popular climbing route to the summit of Mount Hinman.

The Hinman Glacier had descended the northwest slope of Mount Hinman was listed United States Geographical Society as the largest glacier in the North Cascades south of Glacier Peak with an area of 1.3 km² back in 1971. By 2022, 40 years after the glacier had such a presence, it was gone.

The melting of the glacier is documented by the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project. “In the 1960’s the glacier extended from the ridge top of Mount Hinman at 2,250 m to the bottom of the valley at 1,675 m. In 1988, Hinman Glacier from the west was a group of four separated ice masses that we surveyed. In 1992 we mapped the largest of these remaining ice masses at 0.12 km², this was another year with only pockets of blue ice left. In 1998 the glacier has a few areas of blue ice are seen, the glacier was 20% of its mapped size 0.25 km².” Read the full report here.

Runoff from the Hinman Glacier used to enter the Skykomish River. A lake, unofficially called Hinman Lake, has replace the glacier. The nearby Foss Glacier is also melting quickly.

Hinman Glacier recession