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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

A year to the day (Mount Ollivier)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

This time last year I visited the Mt Cook National Park to summit Mt Ollivier, I was eager but ultimately unprepared😅

I made it to Mueller Hut with the top of the mountain in sight.

There were only a hundred or so metres of elevation between me and my goal but it was all frozen😬

Unable to get a grip up the ice I knew I had to call it🤦🏻‍♂️

Since that trip I've aquired a range of equipment to ensure I'm prepared for challenging situations.

The latest edition to my collection is a pair of crampons.

Now I can walk on ice😏

The forecast for last weekend wasn't great,

I had my eye on Mt Pisa but I wanna be waist deep in it😅

There's been a lot of rain in Central Otago this past week, sadly it wasn't cold enough to freeze.

I wanted snow, and I knew just where to find it.

It was time for my redemption,

at the top of Ollivier.

I pulled into the White Horse Hill carpark at 9am and made my way up the 2200 steps to Sealy Tarns.

It didn't take me long to find the snow,

Only a few hundred metres up and the stairs were frozen over😂

I got what I came for.

Six hundred metres above the carpark the Tarns were frozen over, the tourists were hogging the picnic table and I was halfway to the hut.

Granted, the first half is a lot easier.

Footprints in the snow guided me beyond the stairs, showing me where not to step but sometimes you pick a path and end up in a hole🤷🏻‍♂️😂

Higher up the mountain the ground had become increasingly icy and a few people had come to a hault.

Not me, not again🤚🏻

Time to put these crampons to use.

Thing is, I didn't really know how🤨

It took a little while but with help from a passerby I got them on properly.

At first I was wary but the spikes peirced the surface ice with ease providing sturdy footholds, they're one of my best purchases yet.

Once I'd reached the top of this slope I knew it was smooth sailing to the hut, I just didn't know what was beyond it ...


I reached Mueller Hut just after lunch and was greeted by the passerby who helped me with my crampons.

He too was headed up Ollivier but had to return his rental equipment later that day.

My plan was to spend the night here and climb down the next day,

Weather permitting🤞🏽

The hut was forecast to receive 70cm of snow the next day😅

At first that really got me going but combined with gale force winds and low visibility, it was questionable whether I'd even be able to get down😬

Still, I set up my bunk and followed the footprints uphill.

If you look closely you can spot their owner along the ridge.

I stomped and stabbed my way up the hard pack, using my hands to grab at available rocks.

An ice axe would have been really useful along this trip and I'll be sure to pick one up soon.

From the top of this rise I saw an unmistakable final Cairn.

There she was, Ollivier.

The ridgeline was tricky to traverse, some sections weren't stable.

I climbed down and around those, really testing myself in the new crampons🫣

Those spikes and I passed with flying colours, I'd made it.

Redemption is good however you serve it.

But after this cannonball it was a little cold😅

I felt really accomplished in that moment, not because I got to the top of the mountain, but because I hadn't last time.

That sucked at the time, but it made this moment so much more satisfying.

I didn't wanna leave😅

I wanted to wake up in my alpine hut the next morning, sip on a sachet coffee and see what the shit storm was gonna do😂

But I also didn't wanna spend the rest of my long weekend hungry and stuck inside😒

I thought about something my mum often tells me, only take calculated risks.

The goal was to summit Mt Ollivier and I'd done that.

There was no good reason to be stranded up here alone🙄

I headed back to the hut and begrudgingly packed up my sleeping bag😅


I felt light on the way down despite carrying an excessive amount of weight for a day trip😅

I wanted to make the most of the long weekend but I can't change the weather.

If I'm going to be stuck inside I might as well have Netflix 🤷🏻‍♂️

Life was good skidding down the slopes back to civilization.

I pictured myself trying to wade through another 70cm in my shorts and was releived to be sleeping in my own bed later😅

I made it to my car as the clouds of tomorrows shit storm were lit up by the setting of the sun.

I cranked up my heater and resumed my audiobook.

Mark Manson is right, everything is fucked


But it's kind of beautiful too.

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