Mount Cook, a New Zealand Icon

Please consider all images as copyrighted – thank you. Contact me for use… DEClapp

It was here on Mount Cook that (Sir) Edmund Hillary learned to climb mountains. He left the family bee-keeping business to follow his skills and strength. And, as they say, the rest is history. Mount Cook has many faces, many faces each and every day. This morning it was gray and shrouded in low clouds, then the sun revealed it in a glorious radiance and now we are seeing it enveloped by clouds forced in and over it from the Tasman Sea. The following images are taken from the Hermitage Hotel where all rooms face onto the valley, the eroding low mountains, and then to Mount Cook dominating the valley. Talk about a room with a view!

From this vantage the distant mountain, the closer mountains and the eroding slopes of lower mountains all show well across the flat valley. The valley is just the surface of a deeper valley now filled with eons of decayed mountain. This range is still rising yet eroding at a similar rate. It is essentially stable in height as the two factors balance each other out.
In the summer, or especially at the end of the summer, the snow line has climbed up the range a bit. Summer here is November thru March so in early April the snow is at its annual minimum. The winter sees an increase in snow levels, but overall the snow is thinner and the glaciers smaller than they have been in the past.
Mount Cook itself is a formidable climb. Loose rocks, steep slopes, snow and ice work to make each assent a dangous undertaking.
The setting sun reaches the top of Mount Cook as descends in the west providing right light and memorable views.
As with many places perfection is rare. There are clouds here most days and a good deal of rain comes in from the fjord-side of the mountains. The western side of the Southern Alps can average over half and inch of rain a day in some places. Though the mountains wring a great deal of the moisture out of the clouds quite a bit appears on or near Mount Cook as either rain or snow.

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