Wild weather: Plateau Hut

On-and-off rain for the past month or so in Hong Kong has made it hard to get outdoors climbing lately – a far less spectacular version of what happened when we did a technical mountaineering course in New Zealand earlier this year. We lucked out on the weather with severe storms – winds up to 150 km/h and near constant rain or snow which the guides described as a “weather event” and put in the top 5 for the worst weather they’ve seen – and spent most of the next 6 days in Plateau Hut overlooking Aoraki / Mount Cook where the main distraction was watching whether anyone brave enough to go outside to use the outhouse toilet got blown off the mountain. Watching someone walk to the outhouse only provides so much entertainment so the idea of starting a blog started to take form. The following video of an outhouse run (in this case to shut the door that kept getting blown open) gives you some idea of the weather.

When the weather was at its worst the hut was shaking which was a little unnerving given a wall poster referring to the unfortunate fate of Three Johns Hut and those inside it in 1977 (although Plateau Hut is obviously engineered for such conditions and our guides didn’t seem concerned in the slightest and adhered to the best traditions of black humour (“We could down climb – some of you would make it”. “It wouldn’t be a quick death”). Whilst the conditions put a dampener on the course, it was an opportunity to witness severe alpine weather up close and that in itself was a great lesson of how screwed you would be if you were caught unprepared in such an environment and lacked the necessary skills and experience to deal with it.

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