Mt Cook. March 24 – 27, 2016.
The number one thing on my list of what to do after the TA was to go to Mt Cook Village and stay at Mueller Hut. My first trip to New Zealand was in 1991. I joined some friends who had already been in NZ for 3 weeks. They had stayed at Mueller Hut and raved about it. I didn’t go to Mt Cook that year nor the next time in 2007. In 2011, I spent 5 weeks here with one of my brothers. He had also already stayed at Mueller Hut. This was the year to do it.
I had been watching the weather. It looked like Easter weekend might be good. Mueller Hut sleeps 28 and has to be reserved. Friday and Saturday were fully booked. I took a chance and reserved for Thursday night. Even if the weather wasn’t perfect I knew I would see more than if I didn’t go at all. I got lucky. It was perfect.
Thursday morning I hitched in the rain from Twizel to Mount Cook Village. By noon most of the rain was done and I started the 5.2 km trail up. The first half is a very improved trail with lots of built-in steps. The 2nd half is a scramble up over rocks, tussock and dirt but it is still a much better trail than much of the TA.
Mueller Hut is situated in a beautiful setting at 1800 meters. Mt Sefton with all its glaciers is directly in front of it. From the hut I got to hear and see huge chunks of ice break off and roar downhill. The Footstool and Mt Cook are also visible if the weather allows. The clouds parted often enough to get some great views while the valley below remained in clouds.
The hut was only 2/3 full probably because of the weather forecast. Camping is permitted near the hut but no one opted for that. Everyone was up early for the sunrise and it was pretty magical.
I climbed up Mt Ollivier which is just behind the hut. It was the first major mountain climbed by Sir Edmond Hillary. He did climb it in the winter so my walk up isn’t really comparable to his.
After I got back to the hut the clouds had obscured all the views. I walked back to the village where I ran into Immanuel who I had last seen in Invercargill. It was fun to catch up.
The next morning started out cloudy but cleared up by 10:30. I walked back up to the hut to see the spectacular views I had missed. Surprisingly I hadn’t really missed that much. I think I prefer the shifting views with the clouds.
My last morning was clear from the start. I walked over to Hooker Lake and it’s floating ice chunks.