/ Aoraki Mt Cook: not as big as you thought!

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ben b - on 16 Jan 2014
Nice work if you can get it - an expedition to establish the (post landslip) true height of Aoraki. School trips were never like this when I was a lad, eh!

http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago062651.html

Nice little video of the mountain and goodness me they got good weather. Well done guys. Even if it is shorter than we thought, it's still a big hill...

b
Damo on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to ben b:
I thought this was interesting, partly because a) it's been so long since the summit fell off (over 20 years) and b) that they didn't step right on top, or put the GPS on top, because of Maori spiritual beliefs.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11187423

I'm fine with climbers stopping a metre or two below out of respect to those beliefs, but I would have thought if you're going for a sub-metre DGPS reading, in the name of getting the most scientifically accurate result, then you would bite the bullet and put it right on top.

In this case it doesn't matter so much, as there is no rival for highest - Tasman is 300m lower - and it confirmed their suspicion the current accepted height was 'tens of metres' off, which is useful.

But given the scientific accuracy possible, and the whole aim was to get a new, accurate height, to what degree can science be subjugated to spiritualism?
Post edited at 10:02
Damo on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to Damo:

> I
> I'm fine with climbers stopping a metre or two below out of respect to those beliefs, but I would have thought if you're going for a sub-metre DGPS reading, in the name of getting the most scientifically accurate result, then you would bite the bullet and put it right on top.

http://www.otago.ac.nz/surveying/research/otago061558.html#causes

This explains things and nullifies my question about not stepping on top. The GPS receivers were put on the lower point (3719m), down and along from the true highest point, which was then calculated by the computer modelling with which the ground-survey was done in tandem, to produce 3724m.

So, as long as there is sufficient faith and accuracy in the computer modelling, it seems a good way to achieve both scientific accuracy and respect for the local beliefs.

Some nice pics from the job at: http://juliansrockandiceblog.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-changing-height-of-mount-cook.html
ben b - on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to Damo:

Thanks Damo; I agree given the cultural relevance of this, actually standing on the summit would constitute a monumental 'f... off' to Ngai Tahu. This has been a good pragmatic response.

Bluebird weather on Aoraki isn't exactly common - what a great trip that must have been.

b
Rob Parsons on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to Damo:
> I'm fine with climbers stopping a metre or two below out of respect to those beliefs ...

To me that kind of idea is bullshit: why are my beliefs (that there is no such thing as god) any less important than the locals' beliefs?

For sure, if I had signed up to a contract that said I couldn't stand on the top of the peak (thinking here of Kanchenjunga, as an example), then I'd honour it. But this doesn't apply in New Zealand - does it? I mean: I don't have to sign any contracts to go climbing there - do I?

(In case that sounds provocative - it's not meant to - let me be clear:

1. I absolutely honour the right of anybody to hold opinions - religious or otherwise - different from mine.

2. I am not encouraging - and would never support - the idea of contracts or permits for climbing in NZ.)
Post edited at 00:38
Damo on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> To me that kind of idea is bullshit: why are my beliefs (that there is no such thing as god) any less important than the locals' beliefs?

Personally I agree that religion is bullshit, I'm rabidly atheist almost all of the time.

But in this case (and as with Kanch) so long as it's only a metre or two below, a symbolic metre of non-technical, non-challenging flat snow, then my desire to conquer that last metre is not more important to me than the locals' cultural beliefs and everyone getting along and having an enjoyable experience. I'm on top, and their culture is respected. In other words, I prize social harmony over intellectual rigour, at least for this particular small issue.

Banning whole mountains or areas is another story.
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Thickhead - on 17 Jan 2014


Complicated...

Technically the local Maori tribe have "ownership" of the land, and therefore summit, of Aoraki (Mt Cook) under the Treaty of Waitangi and have "gifted" it back to the crown for conservation.

Therefore if one decides to climb it they are doing it under permission of the local tribe, who could presumably take back full control of ownership and therefore rights for climbers to venture to its summit. This could be construed as a "contract".

Religion doesn't really come into this debate.

I tend to be quite anal with climbing mountains and like to touch the very top stone. However, if that was to upset local customs/culture then I would be happy to stop a few metres short.

A couple of links for anyone interested...

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10391211

http://ngaitahu.iwi.nz/ngai-tahu/the-settlement/settlement-offer/aoraki/



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