New Zealand's tallest peak is the stunning Aoraki/Mount Cook, which towers above the country's South Island. Capped by snow and ice, a 1991 avalanche undercut…Read More »
the mountain's brilliant crown by 33 feet (10 meters). The avalanche left an overhang that later crumbled and collapsed, scientists recently discovered. A 2013 climbing expedition by the University of Otago revealed that Aoraki/Mount Cook is actually only 12,217 feet (3,724 m) high, cutting another 98 feet (30 meters) off the mountain's height. Less «
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Credit: Lloyd Homer
Aoraki/Mount Cook was 12,349 feet (3,764 meters) tall before a massive rock and ice avalanche in 1991.
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Credit: Ian Owens
Since the 1991 avalanche, the ice cap has continued to collapse, University of Otago scientists recently discovered.
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Reaching a new height
Credit: Geoff Wayatt
The Otago-led team double-checked their measurements by climbing the mountain on Nov. 23, 2013, and measuring its height with GPS receivers, though they…Read More »
didn't ascend to the very top. The indigenous Maori people consider the mountain to be an ancestor and sacred. Stepping on the peak's highest point violates this sacred status. Less «
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Respecting the mountain
Credit: Nicolas Cullen
The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand, and the Ngãi Tahu tribe in particular, consider the mountain to be an ancestor and sacred. Stepping on the…Read More »
peak's highest point violates the mountain's sacred status (a status which is also protected by New Zealand's Department of Conservation). Less «
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Route up a glacier
Credit: Pascal Sirguey
The researchers' climbing route, depicted on a digital model of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
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Confirming the new low
Credit: Tyler Hager
A trigonometric survey — similar to the map-making done in the 1800s — also confirmed the height from lower elevations on Aoraki/Mount Cook.
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Becky Oskin covers earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.