New Zealand's Tallest Mountain Has Shrunk
Ice collapse decades ago knocks almost 100 feet off Mount Cook
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 16, 2014 3:26 PM CST
Japanese climber Hideaki Nara waits on the side of Mount Cook for rescue by helicopter in New Zealand's South Island, Friday, Dec. 5, 2008.   (AP Photo/Christchurch Press,John Kirk Anderson,)

(Newser) – The highest point in New Zealand is about 100 feet shorter than we thought. A new measurement of Aoraki/Mount Cook puts its height at roughly 12,217.8 feet, down from an official listed height of 12,316.3 feet, reports. That discrepancy likely isn't due to a measuring error either; Dr. Pascal Sirguey at the Otago National School of Surveying, which produced the new measurement, thinks the mountain has actually gotten shorter, thanks to the long-term fallout from a 1991 rock-ice collapse.

At the time, the collapse was believed to have knocked only about 33 feet off the peak, but the researcher believes that may have changed in the years that followed. "It appears that there was still a relatively thick ice cap, which was most likely out of balance with the new shape of the summit ridge," Sirguey says. "As a result, the ice cap has been subjected to erosion over the past 20 years." The Otago team climbed the mountain to get its measurement, but was careful not to actually step on the summit, because it's considered sacred by New Zealand's indigenous Maori people. You can see pictures of the expedition over at LiveScience. (America's tallest peak also got a little shorter this year—for a different reason entirely.)

View 1 more image
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
New Zealand's Tallest Mountain Has Shrunk is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 4 comments
Jan 16, 2014 7:53 PM CST
Most mountains sag as they age.
Jan 16, 2014 6:03 PM CST
SPARKY! Out-f_gStanding!!!!! But, it was in Wales and measured by the Brits. It is a true story. In this case, though, all peaks are measured from space and the kiwi's better move out of dodge. This is what happens right before a volcano erupts. Only, this time, its not going to jump around, scream at you, and stick it's tongue out at you, to prove how "bad" it is! Tell me, though, has the country of Maldives ceased to exist, yet? They are a country south of India, a foot or two above sea level, who expected to be swallowed up during global warming. Anna-Cortez, WASH is 24 feet above sea level. But, don't know what's happening up there, either.
Jan 16, 2014 5:40 PM CST