Mt Cook!

Originally uploaded by Ben Mathes
After a few hours in the car heading over from Christchurch, we went for a day hike up towards the bast of Mount Cook, though nowhere near the real ascent. Everything here is immense. The elevation isn't all that high, but with the latitude and scale, it's all quite impressive and severe.

I talked with a hut warden who said lots of guides from the Himalayas say the mountaineering here is more dangerous, with more things to go wrong: Longer approaches spent in avalanche routes, longer ascents, severe weather adjustments, etc.

The glaciers here are shrinking. Severely. All the information posts along the trail and official maps show the end of glaciers miles further along than they were when we saw them. On the plus side, this means lots of avalanches from the glaciers that sit atop high cliffs. You'll hear what seems to be thunder from across the valley and turn to see huge chunks of ice and snow cascade down cliffs. We saw about 3 or 4 a day. Quite impressive!

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