The Wonders of Winter (Part Three) – Mueller Hut / Aoraki / Mt Cook Village

“On a Mish” #8 The Wonders of Winter (Part Three). Mueller Hut / Aoraki / Mt Cook Village. 27.7.2012. The silence of snow is music to my ears. To be in a totally frozen environment will take your breath away, or make it more visible! For some odd reason I have always been much more fascinated by a snowy scene and I don’t mind putting in the effort to get there. The match up to Mueller Hut in the Sealy Range was an icy challenge with a reward that made me feel like I have underpaid for our epic experience…

The wonders of winter were in full swing while we explored the hill behind the hut. Mt Ollivier(1933m) is a large mound that is definitely with the climb, giving you views south all the way to Lake Pukaki. Along with the lake, the view of Aoraki and his surrounding peaks is rather good. We were lucky enough to be on the hill when the sun was splattering the sky with colours. The setting sun was putting on a display to shoo the aches of the day away.

When we returned to the hut we found that another couple had clambered their way up to enjoy the views and to our surprise they left the entire hut to us. They were hardcore and spent the night outside under the stars.

Early-ish the next morning we had to get back to the real world and the epic sunrise didn’t help us with our want to leave. If time and food wasn’t an issue we might have stayed there forever!

With solid snow under our feet we began the trek back to Aoraki / Mt Cook village. Another glorious day meant we could see incredibleness in every direction. And in the direction we were walking was the jumbled mess of ice below Mt Sefton(3151m), which would shed massive blocks which would crash and crumble in an almighty roar. The place was alive and we had front row seats to watch the action from.

We trekked to the point where we hiked over the north ridge of Mt Ollivier and then began to descend towards Sealy Tarns. It was on the descent where things got ‘interesting’.

Just below the ridge Celene unfortunately dropped her ice axe making her yell out some French words which I think were the words you tell your kids off for saying! We both watched the crucial piece of equipment bounce its way down the slope and out of sight. I gave her my axe and for what seemed like a very long time we crept downwards hoping to spot my axe at some stage. Luckily both of us managed to get down safely and to my surprise I managed to find my axe and all was well once again.

Near Sealy Tarns we removed our crampons and felt the feeling of earth and tussock under our feet for the first time since the day before. At the tarns lookout we ran into other humans for the first time, apart from the couple who had appeared and then vanished just as quickly. It was a reminder that we weren’t alone in this outstanding place, and we had to share the wonders of winter with the other lucky souls fortunate enough to be there!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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