Trip 16: Mueller Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

3-4 September 2017. Plenty of snow. Low avalanche danger (1 on a scale of 1 to 5). And a forecast of near perfect weather. A rare combination for Aoraki Mt Cook this time of year. We decided to head up to Mueller Hut. Lots of gear required – it won’t all fit inside a pack!

The first part of the track – as far as Sealy Tarns – is all steps. Roughly 1400 of them! We had been climbing for what seemed a long time before seeing this encouraging message.

But the views were to die for! This photo shows the lower Hooker Valley, with Lake Mueller and a large moraine wall beyond. Aoraki Mt Cook is at the head of the valley.

Further up the view includes Lake Hooker.

Mueller Hut is at 1816m. It’s understandably very popular over the summer months. However, we had it to ourselves this night.

The doors and windows on the north and west sides of the hut were buried in snow. This one offered a partial view.

We set to work digging.

Improving the view…

And the access.

Sunset was glorious…

Only the be out-competed by sunrise.



A wander up to Mt Ollivier (1933m) offered views of the Mueller Glacier and peaks to the south. (Mt Ollivier is famous as Edmund Hillary’s first major climb, in 1939.)

All too soon it was time for the ski down. Lovely soft spring snow…

Then a knee-jarring pack carry back down those steps.

Postscript 10 September. A winter storm moved over the South Island after our trip. The available danger is back to high (4/5). And at least a metre of snow fell at Mueller Hut. So much for our digging!