Improvements in understanding glacial extents and chronologies for the southeastern slope of the western Nyaiqentanglha Shan on the Tibetan Plateau are required to understand regional climate changes during the Last Glacial cycle. A two-dimensional numerical model of mass balance, based on snow–ice melting factors, and of ice flow for mountain glaciers is used to assess the glacier sensitivity to climatic change in a catchment of the region. The model can reproduce valley glaciers, wide-tongued glaciers and a coalescing glacier within step temperature lowering and precipitation increasing experiments. The model sensitivity experiments also indicate that the dependence of glacier growth on temperature and/or precipitation is nonlinear. The model results suggest that the valley glaciers respond more sensitively to an imposed climate change than wide-tongued and coalescing glaciers. Guided by field geological evidence of former glacier extent and other independent paleoclimate reconstructions, the model is also used to constrain the most realistic multi-year mean temperatures to be 2.9–4.6°C and 1.8–2.5°C lower than present in the glacial stages of the Last Glacial Maximum and middle marine oxygen isotope stage 3, respectively.