Thursday, October 05, 2006

2001 Beginnings and Project Background

I first visited the Beetham Valley in 1992 on my first visit to the big mountains. It was a huge learning curve with various attempts on Malte Brun from various angles, all ending with lots of fun but no summit.

I never knew the first Malte Brun Hut situated high on the moraine walls looking out over the Tasman Glacier. It's replacement, the new Beetham Hut, was fantastic. It sat happily in the valley with a warm sunny deck and airy two story interior.

This hut came to its end when hit by an avalanche in 1996. A sorry end to a great climbing base below a truly classic mountain. I expected that it would be replaced in due course, but the years ticked by and no solid replacement proposal was ever put forward.

When I took up my employment as executive officer of the New Zealand Alpine Club in 2001 I hoped that I would be able to move forward on this exciting project, but alas, the Club's network of existing huts needed a large amount of work and the Club on its own clearly did not have the financial resources to fund such a scheme on its own.
A few small steps were put in place by Chas Tanner during his time as President of the Club and that was first, for the Club Committee to confirm the Beetham Valley replacement hut as a future project of the Club, and second for an investigation trip into the site for avalanche and geotechnical investigation.

On a beautiful weekend a cairn of stones was placed on a site on the true left of the Beetham Valley, below what is commonly known as the Beetham Crag, with an outstanding view across the Tasman Glacier and the main divide. Safe from avalanches, and with excellent geological stabitily, the first problem of a safe building site was answered.

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