Large Rockfall Events in Aoraki/Mt Cook Region

As 2020 drew to a close and we all reflected on what a strange and calamitous year it was, mother nature threw a last minute accent on proceedings with a large rockfall event off Mt Silberhorn (3300m) onto the Grand Plateau on the last day of the year. The above satellite image of the large debris slide was later captured by Planet Labs Inc on January 12.

Rockfall debris on a glacier
The rockfall from Mt Darwin (Heliworks Mt Cook).

A few weeks later, on the morning of January 16, there was another large rockfall event off Mt Darwin (2952m) onto the upper Tasman Glacier.

These large rockfall events are not uncommon in our high mountains and at this time of year. There was a large rockfall event off Mt Dixon (3004m) onto the Grand Plateau in January 2013, and in December 1991 the summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook fell off and 12 million cubic metres of rock tumbled onto the Grand Plateau - coming within 300m of Plateau Hut.


Rockfall in alpine region
The 2013 Mt Dixon rockfall (Heliworks Mt Cook).