Shelter on moraine at risk

The moraine wall of the receding Tasman Glacier, with the Ball Shelter perched near the moraine...
The moraine wall of the receding Tasman Glacier, with the Ball Shelter perched near the moraine edge. Photo from DOC.
Dry weather has led to concerns Ball Shelter in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park could fall victim to a shifting moraine wall.

The Department of Conservation has closed the Tasman Valley hut and plans to move it to a safer location at the toe of the hill in the new few months.

The 10-bed shelter is about 10m from the edge of the wall, which drops down about 50m.

Doc Aoraki Area Office programme manager community relations Shirley Slatter said the hut had been in that position for many years, but due to the moraine's make-up of unconsolidated shingle and the long, dry summer, there were concerns a heavy downpour might cause the hut to move.

After aerial and ground inspections and consultation with geotechnical professionals, the risk was considered significant enough to close the hut.

Recent geotechnical advice was that the new location would be out of any avalanche path and should be safe for the next 20 years.

The hut was put in place as an emergency shelter for climbers coming down from the Tasman but was also used as an overnight stop for backpackers due to its scenic location, she said.

It is the third shelter. The first was destroyed by an avalanche in the early 1900s and the second was closed by the collapse of a moraine wall on the Ball Glacier and later destroyed by fire.

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