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a mountain chain in the cordillera system of North America, in the USA and Canada. It extends for 1,700 km along the western coast of the continent. Its average elevation is 3,000 m. Its highest point has an elevation of 4,042 m (Mount Waddington). It is made up of granites. The range is intensely dissected by deep transverse valleys and fjords that have developed along tectonic joints. The range, which forms a barrier against the moist ocean winds, receives as much as 4,000 mm of precipitation annually on its steep western slope. It is covered with dense coniferous forest (Douglas fir, western hemlock, thuja, Sitka spruce). Above the timber line (1,000–1,200 m above sea level in the north, 1,500–1,800 m in the south) there are belts of mountain tundra and alpine meadows, which border on a belt of permanent snow and glaciers that descend to sea level in some places.