Big Hut June 2019

After a break of 5 years this event was reestablished for the NOTMC this last weekend by an intrepid group of 7. Leaving the comforts of civilization this group made their way to the bottom of the 3 hour climb required to get to Big Hut with uncertain overcast conditions. Cloud covered the tops as we headed up but the activity resulted in rapid warming and before long clothes were being shed to avoid overheating. After a short munch stop about two thirds of the way up and an improvement on the meteorological front a small snow ambush took place with less fortunate down hill members being attacked from above no injuries resulted and we continued up the hill to arrive at the hut by about 1 ish.
After a substantial recovery break a group rugged up to face the elements once again to explore the range to the south with its spectacular rock tors. A couple of young students keen on skiing had come up before us and could be seen in the distance for most of the afternoon indulging in their snowy pastime, they later informed us that they had hoped to get to one of the Queenstown skifields but lacking in snow cover they had decided to come to the Rock and Pillars.
As the photographic evidence shows, the snow was not abundant on the Rock and Pillars either, a dump of some 2 weeks earlier had not been replenished. Conditions were rather cold though with a biting westerly wind ensuring a polar aspect that we have come to expect up there. The one iceaxe brought up by the party was usefully employed to gain access to the water tank at the hut.
After the reuniting of the intrepid group with the stay behinds the convivials were brought out and the social aspects of this trip were established with shared nibbles, drinks and eventually table tennis to keep the circulation going. After dinner the main event took place and a large array of desserts took centre stage. One member started to display major signs of distress at this point, with frequent absences and mutterings on return. It turned out that their contribution to dessert had failed to make it up the hill having been left behind on the kitchen bench at home. We all felt great sympathy with this member and many sounds suitable to this situation were made in his direction. His contribution of canned high pressure cream was appreciated though. It is highly unlikely that this omission will ever be forgotten and it will undoubtedly enter the historical record of our club.
As has been the case in the past the desserts far outweighed our capacity to eat and the 2 young skiing fellows were dragged from their beds in order to help us consume the wonderful delicacies on offer leaving just a smaller remnant to be taken care of for breakfast the following morning.
The night was long and the temperature variable going from quite cold to too warm and back to cold after a small blizzards passed through at about 5.36am which made the journey to the loos challenging.
The intension had been to do the round trip and return via Leaning Lodge but after much waiting for the clagged in cold conditions to change during the morning it was eventually decided to return the same way that we’d come the previous day. The snow encountered the previous day was hard on the return and we were pleased with our decision to return that way. We would have encountered harsh conditions via the Leaning Lodge route with exposure to steep snowy slopes making for unnecessary risks of a fall.
It did warm up on the way down and our winter gear was shed at different points on the journey. We arrived back at the carpark in time for another lunch (a previous lunch stop having already taken place). After another discussion it was wisely decided to stop at Stanley’s for a pint and a debrief.
This was a great trip with a strong social focus which highlighted the high regard and enjoyment we get from the spending time in the hills with our mates. Thanks to those who came and they were Marion, Maurice, Phyllis, Neville, Julian, Bill F and Robbie.