Participants: Tania Seward, Tae-suk Park, Jeff Ducrot, Annelies Zwaan, James Shields
Date: 15-16th February
Author: Tania Seward
Friday, 5.41pm: Being that most of us were working Friday, the our Merry Band of Weekend Warriors assembled at my house on Friday night, whereupon Jeff realised that he had forgotten his boots.
Friday, 6.27pm: Attempted to find dinner in Ashburton. Ash-Vegas is not much of a culinary hub. Settle for kebab caravan on side of main road.
Friday, 9.24pm: Arrive at Lake Pukaki, at what rankers.co.nz describes as an excellent campsite for motorhomes.
Friday, 9.27pm: Realise why campsite is designed for motorhomes. Campsite is full of rutted roads and many rocks.
Friday, 9.34pm: Much hilarity ensues when we get Jeff’s car stuck on an embankment and have to push it off. Jeff seems to be okay with this. Wonder if his opinion will change once he looks underneath the car at the state of the chassis.
Saturday, 8.05am: Suppose we had better get out of bed. After all, the CUTC is not exactly known for their alpine starts.
Saturday, 10.01am: Annelies attempts to break down door of the Old Mountaineers Café and Bar in her desperation to get her morning coffee.
Saturday, 10.45am: Start out full on enthusiasm on Mueller Hut Track. The grin on Tae’s face is a mile wide. Wonder how long that will last – track is pretty steep.
Saturday, 11.16am: There are way too many stairs on this track. Entertain myself by asking passersby how much further away the hut is. Answers range from “halfway” to “two hours” to “many hours”. This is depressing. Think I will start singing the Pitch Perfect soundtrack instead.
Saturday, 1.23pm: Arrive at Sealey Tarns for lunch. Discover that Annelies has brought along both basil pesto and ploughman’s chutney and is willing to share. I think I’ve just made a new friend.
Saturday, 2.13pm: Reluctantly put my book away, shoulder my pack and head up the hill to Mueller hut. By this time, Tae’s wide grin has disappeared. So has my walking pole. Perhaps these two events are related.
Saturday, 4.42pm: Reach Mueller Hut. Take 112 photos of Mt Cook. Tomorrow I will probably take 112 more.
Saturday, 7.17pm: Jeff announces that the mulled wine is ready. Sit on outside deck watching sunset and drinking wine. A girl could get used to this.
Sunday, 4.59am: James’ alarm goes off. Apparently we will be climbing Mt Ollivier to watch the sunrise. And drink beer. Mt Ollivier is the first mountain that Sir Ed climbed. I wonder what he would think about us sitting on a mountain top drinking beer.
Sunday, 6.31am: Sitting on mountain top finishing off a bottle of Speights. Am not alcoholic, I promise. At this point we realise that actual Mt Ollivier summit is another 10 minutes away across a very exposed ridgeline. Ridgeline + recent beer consumption make for interesting experience.
Sunday, 8.15am: Return to hut, scoff breakfast, and head back to bed for a few hours. Feel pretty awful. It must be the altitude. Don’t think it’s anything to do with drinking beer at 6.30am at 1900m.
Sunday, 10.05am: Supposed to have left hut 5 minutes ago. Instead, we are sitting in empty hut playing the guitar.
Sunday, 11.41am: Group gathers at Sealey Tarns to finish off last of beer. Apparently it’s bad practice to carry beer 1000m up a hill and then carry the same beer 1000m down the hill. Or maybe Jeff just wants to lighten his pack.
Sunday, 12.06pm: Jeff and Tae decide to descend via nearby scree slope. Wonder if their decision-making is affected by recent beer consumption. Bid them farewell, and wonder if we will ever see them again.
Sunday, 12.31pm: Realise I am on formed track and am carrying group locator beacon. Jeff and Tae are on scree slope without a locator beacon. My bad…
Sunday, 1.38pm: Return to White Horse Hill carpark. Think my legs will fall off. No sign of the scree slope adventurers.
Sunday, 2.15pm: Scree slope adventurers found waiting by the car. Think we need to improve inter-group communication skills. Realise that Jeff has sent me a Facebook message asking where we are. Smoke signals, carrier pigeon etc possibly a better form of communication on a mountain.
Sunday, 2.36pm: Attempt to relieve the Old Mountaineers café of their entire supply of Phoenix Organic Lemonade in preparation for drive home.
Sunday, 4.14pm: Return to original Lake Pukaki campsite to look for walking pole. Did not find walking pole, but did find a nice lake to go swimming in.
Sunday, 7.27pm: Spend much time marvelling over gastronomic delights that Geraldine has to offer. Realise that we have exhausted the playlist on Jeff’s phone. Resort to listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers again. First world problems…
Sunday, 9.19pm: Arrive back in Christchurch. Say farewell to four new friends. Chuck gear into washing machine, in preparation for next weekend…