Mueller Hut : design and nature

I finally reach the 2200th step of the ascent to Sealy Tarns. A small lake offers itself to me as well as a splendid view on the Hooker glacier and its milky blue lake. I am only halfway up the hill to reach Mueller Hut, a refuge at 1800m altitude.

The path continues steeply through tussocks that cover the slope of the mountain. Little by little, the vegetation disappears and is replaced by pebbles and then screes. I reach the ridge and stretch out my ear. The mountain cracks under the heat. At times, big booms sound can be heard and small avalanches unfold before my eyes.

The landscape is almost lunar. The ground is made of stones with some remains of snow that have not yet melted. In the distance, a small red construction appears in a circus overhung by Mont Ollivier. All of red-clad, the hut is built on stilts and fits perfectly with the landscape around.

The building I contemplate is the fifth version of the refuge named Mueller Hut. The first version dates from 1914 and was located 500m above the Mueller glacier. The difficult weather affected the four other versions. The fifth date of 2003 and is for now still standing.

Of all the huts I visited, this one is by far the most aesthetic I have seen. Simple rectangle in sheet metal, the shelter is functionally very well organized, with the dormitories on one side, the kitchen on the other and an outside balcony. Located in the center of the circus, the construction could have disfigured the landscape, but not at all. The choice of its color and its architecture on stilts makes it extremely aesthetic and perfectly integrated with the nature making the place even more special.

Mueller Hut - Sealy Range - Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park - Canterbury - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

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