The word massif is French, meaning literally “massive.” It refers to a compact and more or less independent mountain mass, either protruded through the Earth’s crust or depressed as a unit and often bounded by faults. Not to be confused with the summit alone, massif refers to the entire configuration. A massif is composed of rocks more rigid than those of its surroundings, and from a different, often more ancient time. Examples are the Chain Lakes massif in the northern Appalachians and the Yukon Territory’s Mount Logan, the second highest mountain in North America.

John Keeble