Mueller Hut – In the shadow of giants

Managing to recruit Kenji for another hut mission, we headed off in the early hours of the morning to Mount Cook National Park to attempt to do a Mueller Hut to Barron Saddle Hut loop.

The track to Mueller Hut is very well maintained and even has a mixture of well constructed timber and concrete steps – so up all 2000 of them we ascended to snow line and from there skinning and cramponing our way up to the ridge line.

Going down 2000 steps sure is easier than walking up them.
Going down 2000 steps sure is easier than walking up them.

Unfortunately, when we finally gained the ridge on the way to Mueller Hut and got to scope out our intended path to the Barron Saddle hut, the crux point, which is a narrow snow-ledge between sheer rock face above and below did not look enticing to Kenji who flat out shook his head and said no. So, three days and two nights exploring Mueller Hut and surrounds was the go.

The snow ledge crux on the route to the Barron Saddle - big fall onto the Mueller Glacier if things went wrong.
The snow ledge crux on the route to the Barron Saddle – big fall onto the Mueller Glacier if things went wrong.

Beautiful sunny and warm weather meant that we could follow the sun and gain great spring skiing. We managed to ski a bit of everything from mellow glaciers to steeper chutes and all with great views all around.

Joel dropping in to another great spring run
Joel dropping in to another great spring run

Mount Sefton in particular was sending us rapturous applause each day with an almost continuous stream of thunderous icefalls of it’s steep overhanging glaciers.

Icefall avalanche off Mount Sefton
Icefall avalanche off Mount Sefton

A great three days was had by both Kenji and myself and we were pretty chuffed to have hiked more than 4000 vertical meters over the trip (the tally in the map below is wrong – google earth reports: 4,360meters). As we had intended to do a long loop between huts I left my DSLR in the car and had to rely on my iPhone only.

#Edited some weeks later:- I took a great oblique photo that shows the Mueller area very well.

Oblique of the Mueller Hut area taken from Ball Pass.
Oblique of the Mueller Hut area taken from Ball Pass.

The rest of the trip photos are in the gallery below:

 

 

  • Richard

    Nice one, that walk up to Mueller is brutal. Nature’s Stairmaster! Bad luck about getting to Barron Saddle. I have come the other way (Barron Saddle -> Mueller) and it was one of the most difficult days I have done touring. We spent a lot of time with everything on our back climbing up moraine walls! The run down from Annette Plateau was beautiful though with the great views of Aoraki.