The Wonders of Winter (Part Two) – Mueller Hut / Mt Ollivier(1933m)

“On a Mish” #8 The Wonders of Winter (Part Two). Mueller Hut / Mt Ollivier(1933m). 26.7.2012. I do get surprised how quickly people shut down the idea of a mish during the months of winter. Yes it might be a bit chilly outside, but the benefits to the eyes will warm you long after the mission is over. Most of us like the twinkle of the stars in the sky on a clear night, so imagine the ground is also twinkling and that is only a fraction of the fascination found while walking amongst the wonders of winter…

After a couple of summers full of adventure I was beginning to build my catalogue of winter outings. My crampons had lost the sheen of being new and clean, and my ice axe had chips and scratches, which are only possible from use. Stomping around on ice was becoming not only a passion but also a bit of an addiction and this addiction had taken me and my friend up into the Sealy Range on a quest to Mueller Hut.

What started as a small red box at the base of Mt Ollivier(1933m) was now growing into a large snow covered accommodation block.

Our hike up from the village had been successful and we had made it to the hut. Now we had the strange task of working out how to get inside. I had never been up to the hut before and the sight of the front deck completely buried in snow was both cool and also a little bit unnerving.

After circling the building we found the backdoor to be uncovered and with that we were in. Once inside we found the place to be dark thanks to the lack of light. The sun was now on the western side of the sky and all of the windows on that side of the hut were under snow. Our first task was to dig some of the snow away so we could see what we were doing!

As we began to work on getting light into the hut some of the locals showed up to see what was going on. A couple of Kea came in for a look and after we got some of the snow cleared we laughed at the sight of one of the Kea peering into the hut at us through the small hole we had created.

The sun was starting to set but this didn’t mean our day was done. After a quick feed we donned our crampons once again and scrambled up the slopes behind the hut to the top of Mt Ollivier.

The evening sky began to colour the snow, making the scene one I will never forget. Far below was both the Mueller and Hooker Valley’s, the latter leading to the awe inspiring sight of New Zealand’s highest peak. Even Aoraki must have been as impressed as us with the almighty sunset that was lighting up his magnificent mountain kingdom…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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