Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Brewster’

New Zealand’s glaciers

06/05/2009

New Zealand glacier findings upset climate theory

Mt. Brewster Glacier, Image:R.Richards

Mt. Brewster Glacier, Image:R.Richards

Research by three New Zealand scientists may have solved the mystery of why glaciers behave differently in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Geologist David Barrell of GNS Science, Victoria University geomorphologist Andrew Mackintosh and glaciologist Trevor Chinn of the Alpine and Polar Processes Consultancy have helped provide definitive dating for changes in glacier behaviour. They were part of a team of nine scientists, led by Joerg Schaefer of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York, who used an isotope-dating technique to get very precise ages for glacial deposits near Mt Cook.

Mt. Brewster, glacier's tongue

Mt. Brewster, glacier's tongue

They measured the build-up of beryllium-10 isotopes in surface rocks bombarded by cosmic rays to pinpoint dates when glaciers in the Southern Alps started to recede. The technology is expected to be widely applied to precisely date other glaciers around the world. Glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate changes, usually advancing when it cools and retreating when it warms. The first direct confirmation of differences in glacier behaviour between the (more…)

The Kindness of Strangers

11/02/2009
Stacked stones, Fantail Falls, NZ

Stacked stones, Fantail Falls, NZ

Fantail Falls is at the trailhead for Mt. Brewster at the Haast Pass road on New Zealand’s South Island.  Taking off from the parking lot, the trail has a short bypass to the falls.  After a few days at the Mt. Brewster area, I decided to drop my pack off at the car, and come back to the falls.  Not only was I treated to the falls on the far side of the river, but also to the piles of rocks left by strangers. I doubt one person or family did them all.  Whoever stacked these rocks spaced them peacefully and artfully in front of the falls. The next  rain will most likely send them toppling when the river rises.  In searching on the internet for a particular name of stacked rocks done in a meditative aire, I stumbled across an interesting article on the subject.
Update: Since I wrote this piece, I’ve driven to the south island’s west coast and back,  and noticed these stone piles at a few inspirational locations, the beaches on the Tasman Sea, and inland, near Mt. Cook.

Mt. Brewster, New Zealand

11/02/2009
Returning from snow school, Mt. Brewster, NZ

Returning from snow school, Mt. Brewster, NZ

Some friends and I had a  great time in the Mt.  Brewster area last week. We did the two hour plus verticle hike to the hut from the valley floor, which got us there in the afternoon.  As Aspiring Guides Director Martin Hawes writes in their blog, “The track to Brewster Hut wastes no time in saying which way you are going: you leave the car, cross the river and then its straight uphill. At 2575 metres, Mt  Brewster is over 2 000 metre above the road and fortunately there is no valley slog to start. There is an honesty to this track. It takes you directly where  you want to go – upwards, and no messing about.”

Lisbeth & Amanda headed for Brewster Hut

Lisbeth & Amanda headed for Brewster Hut

Amanda is the roving hut ranger for DOC, and her roster took her there to collect hut fees, do maintenance and be a presence at the hut.  When we had a bit of free time, she and mutual friend Lizbeth Asserhoj from Denmark, did some basic snow school/ice axe lessons for the afternoon. The following day we worked our way over to Mt. Brewster glacier. But because of poor visiablity rain and slippery glacier polished rock we didn’t make it on the glacier. Even though we were well equipped for glacier travel, we decided to turn back for the hut. Some glaciologist who had earlier in the day been deposited by helicopter also decided to head for the hut. We later caught up with them at the hut, where they described their studies the effects of climate change on the Mt. Brewster Glacier. 

Sunset from Brewster Hut

Sunset from Brewster Hut

We based ourselves at the new hut, recently put there by the Department of Conservation in 2007. It replaces a four bunk hut that had been there for years. Even though we didn’t have time to get near the mountain itself, we enjoyed our time doing some ridge walks, snow school and getting towards the base of the mountain.  Next time we’re up there we’ll poke around a bit more, time permitting.