Olympic National Park Highpoint Trip Report

Mount Olympus (7,969 ft)

Dates: July 19-22, 2004
Author: John Mitchler
Climbing Party: John Mitchler, Gerry Roach and Charlie Winger


The approach hike requires 1.5 days; too long for 1 day and too short for 2 full days (unless you intend to camp high by Blue Glacier which really isn't necessary). Get your permit at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at the trailhead. The first 12 miles are rather flat and follows the Hoh River; the first 5 miles have day hikers; the second 5 miles have several log stream crossings. Official campsites are along the trail; plan to use the ones with bear wires and toilets; when selecting a camp be sure to note if water is nearby. After 12 miles (after crossing the high bridge across a side stream) the trail is steep; pack animals are allowed to Elk Lake; the ranger yurt at Glacier Meadows was vacant.


First day, we hiked noon to 6pm and camped at a primitive campsite along the Hoh River. Second day we hiked up to Glacier Meadows 7am - 3pm. Our summit day from Glacier Meadows was 5:30am to 3pm (clear, calm weather so no rush). We broke camp and hiked down to Martin Creek campsite. Fourth day we hiked out 7am - 3pm.


Blue Glacier was incredible; low angle; rock-hard ice but crunchy surface; frozen in morning but a dynamic surface later in the day with uncountable streamlets and dangerous water holes. Morning crossing was crampons no rope; afternoon crossing was no crampons but harnesses on; have rope & gear ready in case someone punches through a bridge.


After the glacier, we climbed up the side of the Snow Dome on mixed snow and rock (could have gone all-snow); some steep benches but generally low angle; soft snow in late July; roped up once on top of Snow Dome; route weaved around open crevasses; the direct route to the summit was impassable due to an open bergschrund so we went left through the Five Fingers; removed crampons for Class 2 rock traverse to base of steep snow before the summit rock; ascended steep snow roped but descended unroped (and glissaded the steeper snow benches down to glacier).


The rock climbing was exposed; Class 2 ramp off the glacier; Class 3 section that leads to a Class 4 swing-around slot with lots of air; great holds (some folks downclimb all this without rope); loose rocks suggest wearing a helmet which many do; summit ridge is Class 2/3 walking among rock fins and blocks with exposure (some call that Class 4); summit is small comfortable platform; metal Mazamas register box compromised by a lightning strike (rubber gasket vaporized; paper singed).


The rain forest is a wonderful hike; moss, huge trees, stumps to rest on, alternating pine forest and maple forest. The upper trail was through mature forest of huge trees. Treeline was shortly after Glacier Meadows - be sure to take the Lateral Moraine trail and not the End Moraine trail. Take two bottles of water on summit day, although we resupplied via glacial melt streams and melting snow via pocket stove. We'll provide much more detail regarding route and mileages in our upcoming guidebook.

Gerry prepared a masterful trip summary trip summary with beautiful photos.

While at that website, be sure to review the excellent books Gerry has authored, as well as the excellent books that Charlie and Diane have written.

I have surely climbed with literary giants!