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In January 2016, I was on a flight from London to San Francisco and photographed this prominent mountain (the large one, roughly in the centre of the horizon). Can anybody identify it?

The photograph was taken approximately over Banks Lake in Washington State; the camera was pointed somewhere between west and north-west. In case it helps anyone judge the scale, the photo was taken with a 50mm lens on a camera with a 1.6x crop factor. I cropped the image to 16:9 by removing some sky; the width of the image is the original field of view.

enter image description here

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I am going to say that that is Mt. Baker.

Here is a zoomed in version of the above picture.

Picture of Mt. Baker

Here is a Google Earth image of Mt Baker from the south east.

Google Earth image of Mt Baker

Looking at these pictures, there are two things that stand out as very similar to me. The diamond shaped ridge to the left of the summit and the long sweeping ridge down and to the right.

Image of Mt Baker edited

Google Earth image of Mt Baker edited

Neither of these features appear on Glacier Peak, and Mt Hood lacks the mountains in front of it.

  • 2
    Thanks, Charlie. I think you're right. I didn't consider Mt Baker when I was looking on my own because it looked too far away. But it seems to be exactly the right shape and measuring on Google maps says it's "only" about 135 miles away, which looks pretty plausible. – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 18:54
  • If the camera was pointed south west it would be Mount Rainier – James Jenkins Dec 29 '16 at 19:22
  • @JamesJenkins I considered that, too, because of Mt Rainier's prominence. But Mt Rainier is the wrong shape (if you look at the full-size image, there's a distinctive rectangular wall, which Rainier doesn't have) and the camera definitely wasn't pointed south-west. I have a photo of the map on the entertainment system taken immediately after the one I showed and the plane is heading roughly SSW. I was sitting behind the wing so wasn't able to take photos significantly farther forwards than looking straight out of the window. – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 19:29
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It's definitely one of the cascade peaks, which are all old volcanoes. The question is which one. As others have pointed out Mt Baker is a possibility.

Another might be Mt Hood. It's often not so easy to tell where you are in a commercial airline flight. You could have been further south than you think. Note that there seems to be nothing major to the left (south), but there does seem to be a hint of higher mountains at the horizon at the right (north) side of the picture.

To answer this question best, make a list of the likely suspects (there aren't very many of them), then look at profiles of each one seen from the east southeast.

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    I'm fairly sure about the position of the plane, since I took a photo of the map on the in-flight entertainment system just after taking this photo. Of course, the plane graphic is about 100 miles long but the whole of that graphic was well inside Washington so I'm sure I wasn't seeing something as far south as Mt Hood in that shot. Anyway, thanks for teaching me to fish. :-) – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 23:45
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    @Pap: It's been conclusively shown to be Mt Baker now. However, the OP only said that he was over Banks Lake, without any justification how he knew that. Guessing location from a airplane can be more difficult than people realize, unless you can recognize landmarks. Of course if he could recognize landmarks, he wouldn't be asking the question. I agree about no mountains in front of Mt Hood. That was bugging me too. I was just trying to point out alternatives when not taking the OP's assumed location for granted. – Olin Lathrop Dec 30 '16 at 13:31
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Glacier Peak.

If the is Mt Baker then Glacier peak should be in the foreground to the left and look bigger as it is only 240' shorter. Unless you we quite a bit north of Banks lake.

  • 1
    Glacier Peak is also one I considered but I don't think it's the right shape. If you view the full-size version of my photograph, there's a distinctive looking rectangular wall immediately below the summit, which looks a lot like Mt Baker; Glacier Peak doesn't seem to have such a wall. Also, the smaller mountain to the right of Mount Whatisthis looks similar to Mt Shukshan. – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 22:40
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    So why isn't Glacier Peak in my photo? The bearing from the centre of Banks Lake to Glacier Peak is about 278deg; the bearing to Mt Baker is about 287deg. The horizontal field of view of a 50mm lens on a 1.6x crop-factor camera is about 12deg either side of centre and Mount Whatisthis is pretty much in the centre of the frame, so I think it's plausible that my mountain is Mt Baker and Glacier Peak is just beyond the left-edge of the frame. But +1 for good reasoning. – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 22:46
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    It's definitely Mt. Baker. The summit plateau and Sherman Peak just to the left of the main summit are pretty distinctive. – Charles E. Grant Dec 29 '16 at 22:59
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    I agree that looks like Baker and Shuksan. I have climbed them several times. If you are where you report based on the space between Baker and Shukshan then Glacier should be in view. To me that looks like the view from Glacier Peak. – paparazzo Dec 29 '16 at 23:16
  • @Paparazzi Interesting. Maybe I was looking over the top of Glacier, and it's off the bottom of the photo, rather than off the side? (Also, pleashe ecshcushe my Sean Connery mish-shpelling of Shuksan.) – David Richerby Dec 29 '16 at 23:51

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