Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Cook’

Sir Edmund Hillary Museum, New Zealand


Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at Aoraki Mt. Cook Inspires, Gives Glimpse into Hillary’s Character

Hillary Museum in NZ

By Randall Richards
We passed through the Aoraki Mt. Cook area, on New Zealand’s South Island, and made our way through the fancy Hermitage Hotel to find the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. I knew of Hillary the climber, but the display, video presentations, memorabilia and photos portrayed a humble man with astounding climbing ability, a self depreciating style and sense of humor.

He was the first to reach Everest’s summit for a reason. His solid climbing skills, drive and competitiveness all put him in the position with Tenzing Norgay to be the first summiteers on Chomulungma.

Multimedia Displays, with Norgay/Hillary

The reason this story made its way onto this blog, is he seemed to have also been truly a nice guy.  He was loved by his fellow Kiwis. He took care to leave the world a better place than he found it by creating a foundation that built schools and educated those in the Everest region.  One leaves with a good feeling about Sir Ed, after strolling among old photos, his book collection and accounts of his relationships with family, friends and of course his sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
I have a greater respect for Mr. Hillary after having learned more about him at this Alpine Centre Museum dedicated to his life and acheivements.

From the Centre’s Website:

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”

Hillary, His Early Days

“A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world’s greatest explorers, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, its people and its place in the universe.

Designed to educate and entertain, the centre features a spectacular state-of-the-art 3D movie, New Zealand’s first full dome digital Planetarium and Museum which documents the pioneering heart of the region and features the impressive Hillary Gallery.

The Hillary Gallery depicts Sir Edmund’s longstanding connection with the region and touches upon his achievements, expeditions and life’s work.  It was here he climbed his first major mountain, achieved a number of impressive first ascents including the difficult south face of Mount Cook, and trained for his Everest and Antarctic expeditions.

Located adjacent to The Hermitage Hotel in the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is an opportunity to explore and connect to the national identity and celebrate the cultural characteristics New Zealanders hold dear.”


Global Climate Change

Glacier Calving, NZ

Glacier Calving, NZ

Largest iceberg ‘calved’ in 25 years from Tasman Glacier Terminal Face, Mt. Cook, New Zealand
A three meter tidal wave surging down Aoraki Mount Cook’s Terminal Lake was the first indicator of the largest single iceberg in 25 years calving directly from the Tasman Glacier terminal face yesterday (10 February). The giant slab of ice or ‘calf’, estimated to be 250m long by 250m wide by 80m high, plunged into the Terminal Lake in the early afternoon, the most significant single calving in the lake’s 25-year existence.  A second iceberg about quarter of the size calved from the face shortly afterwards.

Glacier Explorers Operations Manager Bede Ward, whose company takes visitors on boat trips to view the Tasman Glacier face from the water, said the calving happened between trips but made quite a splash.

Terminal face calving

Terminal face calving

Last week passengers onboard Glacier Explorers boat trips witnessed the calving of “The Bomb”, an eight meter wide and 30 meter chunk of turquoise ice.“We thought that took the cake but this new iceberg, is absolutely massive. It supersedes the last significant one named “Sir Edmund Hillary” which calved on January 11, 2008, the same day Sir Edmund Hillary passed away. “We’re getting more and more icebergs now so we’re naming them in order to track and communicate changes and locations.  “Since the Terminal Lake began forming in 1973, the Tasman Glacier’s retreat has noticeably quickened because the lake is expanding all the time and is causing a more rapid melt of the terminal face. I think we may be looking at major calving from the terminal face as an annual event now.”

Mountain People Who Inspire


Greetings from New Zealand. You’ll start to see articles on this blog under the column named “Mountain People Who Inspire” whenever I or other authors should come across them. 

Londoner Mark Rosen, Wanaka, NZ

Londoner Mark Rosen, Wanaka, NZ

I’m starting this column with an entry on a retired man from England named Mark Rosen. Mark hails from Norfolk, Sheringham which is a fishing and vacation village on the east coast. We crossed paths in the Matukituki Valley when Mark was on his way to fulfill his annual volunteer stint at the French Ridge Hut near the base of Mt. Aspiring. He has been volunteering at this hut as well as Mueller hut at Mt Cook for a number of years.  He’s an inpsiration because of his great attitude about getting out in the mountains, and his ability to continue hitting the trail. He’s a mountain man in the true sense. Getting to the French Ridge Hut is not easy. Once you’ve hiked four hours along the Matukituki Valley, the trail climbs 3000′ in about a mile and a half, to arrive above treeline and at glacier’s edge at the small hut.

I only met him briefly on the trail, and later caught up with him in Wanaka, New Zealand where we asked him a few questions about his thoughts on hut wardening at Mt. Aspiring and Mt. Cook.  
MSI:What do you love most about your volunteering?
MR: I love relating to the people, and hearing about their first impressions. Especially at Mt. Cook when many of the visitors are seeing a large glaciated mountain for the first time. They’re enjoying the beauty of the mountains and for most, this is their first experience of going to a place like that. Their eyes are wide with wonder.  More though, I come back because of the place, the mountain environment, this special location.  I like the time alone too and can retreat to the hut warden’s quarters when need be.

MSI: What do you do in your spare time at the huts?
MR: I like to get out and hike the surrounding routes, read or plug into my ipod and conduct the London Symphony Orchestra or do my aerobic exercises.

MSI: What are some of the challenges of being a hut warden?
MR: Well, in a humorous vein, people tend to ask the same questions over and over, such as,  “How do you get your food and water up here?”, or “How do you get up here?” Depending on my mood sometimes, I like to make my answers more interesting.  I’ll tell a fibb by replying that I bring my food up in big boxes and haul water from the valley floor in buckets. Oh, and that “The outhouse poop needs to be hauled out in containers strung over my shoulders.” Sometimes I might say “I arrive by private helicopter.”
One thing that can bother me is when parties don’t clean up after themselves and leave the hut or toilet a mess. I almost feel as if I need to inquire about their toilet habits upon their arrival, hopefully stemming their bad behaviour. Of course, this is the minority of the visitors, but it does have a negative impact.

When I met Mr. Rosen the second time in Wanaka, I observed at how well grounded and at peace the man seemed. I guess part of it stems from all that time in the mountains. Keep going Mark.