After spending a night at Brewster Hut, it’s not too long to get to the Brewster Glacier, just around couple of hours of hiking.
Brewster Glacier is a magical place to photograph…the glacier melt water gathers and forms stunningly coloured terminal lakes. Yes, these lakes are freezing cold but their emerald colour makes them look amazing, with its source, the Brewster Glacier and Mt. Brewster 2515m asl, right behind it.
Despite of relatively not too difficult hike to the glacier, the hike shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially during the unpredictable wether period. There is no track as such and you need to find and follow orange poles on the beginning and then just know the terrain and find your way through the steep slopes and scree, as the poles are not all the way to the glacier. Since the route leads along steep slopes with some moderate exposure which may be fine in summer but during the winter or low clouds, this can be quite dangerous. Other thing to consider is that the route runs through an avalanche path in winter. This avalanche hazard applies long into the spring so if considering heading that way, be extra vigilant and experienced, and definitely check the weather before you take off.
When you eventually make it through though, you will never forget it!
In this mini series of 2 posts, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite but not so well known corners of the Southern Alps – the Brewster Hut and Brewster Glacier.
This is a very special place to me. Not only because it is one of the jewels of the Southern Alps and photographers paradise but also because I’ve experienced some close calls while exploring it in winter, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here.
Generally, people would hike up the ridge to reach the Brewster Hut and stay the night there. It’s quite short hike, around 3hrs, but it can be steep at places so if you’re not well trained, you might be just happy to spend the rest of the day around the hut. And no one can blame you as the hut’s location is spectacular and offers some superb views. On fine day, if looking south you can see all the way to Mt. Aspiring while just behind your shoulder is Mt. Brewster over 2500m asl itself dominating the skyline. Around the hut, there is many opportunities for explorations for everyone. After all it’s an alpine environment with beautiful rocky outcrops, fauna and flora and if you feel like, you can climb Mt. Armstrong nearby.
After spending night in the hut, you may want to venture further toward the Brewster Glacier but that’s something I’ll leave for the next week.
One of the most striking forms of evidence of glacial erosion is the colour of rivers like the Waiho River in Franz Josef. The melt water of the river gains a characteristic greyish colour, sometimes known as glacier milk. This is the result of the suspension of very fine grains of rock <0.002mm in size. These particles are called glacial flour and are the result of a type of glacial erosion known as abrasion. The abrasion occurs where the glacier slides over bedrock and works much like sandpaper, as rock fragments meet at the boundary of rock and ice they grind and smooth the surface below. If a large rock is trapped, large grooves or glacial striations are engraved into valley walls and bedrock.
Another major type of erosion is known as plucking. When the ice slides over the downstream side of the bedrock, it can freeze loosened rocks from the bottom into itself and rips the rocks out from the valley floor and walls, changing its shape forever.