“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” (Sir Edmund Hillary)
Sir Edmund Hillary is mostly known to be the first human standing on top of the highest mountain of the world. Long before he reached is biggest goal, he did his first major climb in 1939 to the summit of Mt. Ollivier, my goal for the trip to Mt. Cook Village.
After volunteering at the Challenge Wanaka on Saturday and Sunday, I left after the volunteer party in direction to Mt. Cook Village. It was already late but I wanted to have the whole day to explore the area around the village, with hikes to Hookers and Tasman Glaciers (second is the longest glacier in the NZL).
The area is also well known for its clear and starry nights but unlikely I choose to travel during full moon which actually offered a spectacular view with bright mountains in the night. Still, it was possible to catch some stars 😉
White horse hill is the only but well equipped campsite in the village and I left before the asian tour busses on the 1h trail to Hooker Glacier. It was really cloudy in the morning but after a while the sun was strong enough and cleared the view to Mt Cook. It is hard to describe but it seemed to be so close to the highest mountain in New Zealand and it is a total different feeling compared to be in the Alps.
At Hooker Glacier I helped a girl making a picture with her birthday wishes to her dad and after it turned out that she is hiking the Te Aurora on the South Island (Te Aurora is the long distance trail form the north to the south most point in NZL). It was really nice to hear about the TA from a hiker since I also thought about doing a part but my goal will be the PCT. After being a trail angle (offering accommodation, food or any help for long distance hiker) she left to stay at Mueller’s Hut.
I wasn’t sure if I just hike to the summit or stay overnight in the hut, so I went to the DoC Center to check if there is bunk bed available. It was booked out but the women told me it is also possible to camp and I decided to go for it. The weather forecast was showing some rain and wind but I wanted to make this experience.
In the afternoon I had enough time to see the Tasman Glacier, where it was just a 10min walk to the lookout. Seeing what is left of the longest glacier of NZL, is first mind blowing but concerning as well. Panoramas shown from 20 to 100 years ago made clear how big the effect globale warming is. Actual measurements shown that the glacier retreat by 180m per year in average since the 1990s and it is assumed, that it will be gone in about 10 to 19 years.
The next day I left early to get up to Mueller’s Hut. The suggested duration for the incline is 3h and I was so delighted to go up about 2000 steps of a staircase (NOT). As the day before, the sun made a good job the clear up the sky and during the accent, Mt. Cook was more and more visible. After 2h I reached the red Muller’s Hut, were I left my backpack and took only my camera for the last 200m to the summit. There was no real track anymore and I had to climb over rocks until I reached to summit of Mt. Ollivier (1933m).
I spent the rest of the day in the hut, reading, meeting new friends, watching Kea’s and waiting for the heater forecast for the next day. To my misfortune, rain clouds were on the way to us and the wind would increas up the 50kmh. I decided to went early to my tent and fell asleep quickly.
The sound of the wind blowing against my tent woke me up around 2am. It wasn’t possible to fall asleep properly and I woke up about every half an hour. Around 6am, I decided to use a chiller period to dress up and pack everything in my bag (everything under the rain cover) and pack up my tent. I went quickly into the hut, were already a couple hikers got up and made breakfast. Most of them knew I was in the tent and told me they thought about me when they woke up during the night due the sound of the wind 😀
I asked one young guy who was ready to leave since it is saver to hike down with some company. It was still windy and rainy in the beginning but as closer we got to the valley, both stopped and we arrived at the campsite after 1,5h.
We met with more other hikers in public shelter where we could get a warm shower and had our well deserved breakfast.
Lake Pukaki and Tekapo
After my multiple day hikes in Australia, it was another important experience for my life and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Sleeping at about 2000m can get really uncomfortable but I managed to set my tent up/down during wind and rain, stay warm, keep my gear dry (what has to stay dry), learned more about the weather in the mountains and again about myself. It is important to walk at least with somebody in difficult conditions but even with wind and rain, I was never in a big danger and managed easily to stay save.