Land forms of the alpine portions of western United States are ordinarily described as though they were chiefly the product of erosional and depositional processes familiar at lower elevations, their characteristic variant being Quaternary glaciation. In reality, this conception is far from representing the actual facts. With all glacial forms subtracted, alpine landscapes would be strikingly different from landscapes of lesser elevation in similar latitudes. In many respects they resemble the desert, but their closest relatives exist in Arctic borderlands.
It is the purpose of this paper to describe some of the more common alpine land forms and to emphasize the importance of certain significant processes. It is written in the light of field experience extending through the past 12 years and covering many of the highest regions in western United States, chiefly in California, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming. Field work in northeastern California in the summers between 1920 . . .