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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Mt Cook: Day 3: Sliding Down a Mountain

Mark on Mt Ollivier
Being blown about on top of Mt Ollivier, with Mt Cook behind me on the right

Imagine waking up to such a view; this isn't a pleasant little alpine village ski resort-type view, it's savage, elemental stuff, and it's pretty invigorating. Wanting to extend our stay for as long as possible, Ben and I climbed up nearby Mt Ollivier, the peak of which is at 6288 ft; all the way we battled against evil winds from hell and sleet being blown in our faces. Luckily the snow had melted quite a lot since our ascent the day before, so we made the summit without incident, and the astounding views of the Mueller Glacier were well worth the frozen hands and feet. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the hut and made a cup of tea, it was time to head back down to the campsite.

A Christmas snowman in the Southern Alps
My bring-your-own snowman posing in the snow of the Southern Alps

Not surprisingly we spent the afternoon cleaning up; it was my first shower in five days, which made it practically orgasmic. We then popped into the Hermitage, the rather posh hotel in Mt Cook (at over NZ$200 a night) and soaked up the atmosphere, the firelight and the piano playing1 while our washing dried, and then it was back to the camp for some well-earned rest. It was also pleasant to note that the weather had turned sour again, so we'd made it through the whole experience in the nick of time; my car felt particularly nice and warm that night.

1 The piano man, all suited up and playing the sort of seamless popular-tune piano medleys that you tend to hear in hotels – guaranteed to offend no one and to bring a smile to the lips of any ancient and loaded widows in the room, in other words – had just one book from which he played his pretty little ditties. The name of the book? 101 Great Songs for Buskers...