Damage check in summer

The future of an alpine hut on Aoraki/Mt Cook extensively damaged in a rock avalanche last month will not be known until summer.

The Department of Conservation has temporarily closed its 37-year-old Gardiner Hut, until a detailed, on-site engineering report can be carried out to accurately assess the level of damage caused by a rockfall from the south face of Mt Cook about July 14.

Doc media adviser Lizzy Sutcliffe said the assessment could not take place until the summer months when the snow had melted away from the sides of the hut so the entire structure could be viewed and the foundations inspected.

The GNS Science assessment report from aerial inspection and supplied photographs said Gardiner Hut was partially buried, possibly moved on its foundations and deformed because of burial weight and projectile rock damage.

The hut's toilet has been destroyed and cables installed on nearby Pudding Rock to aid access to the hut may also have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

''As for whether the damage to the hut is terminal requiring replacement will depend on the type of damage inflicted and the cost for repairs,'' Miss Sutcliffe said.

Climbers were advised to keep out of the Noeline Glacier region of the upper Hooker Valley area while the avalanche area stabilised, as there would be a period of heightened risk.

The situation would remain unchanged until at least late summer-early autumn 2015 and could worsen. lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz