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 TRAIL HIKE
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.
THE GLACIER CROSSING
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.
THE SNOW HIKE
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 CLIMB
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
with beautiful photos.
While at that website, be sure to review the excellent books Gerry has authored,
as well as the
that Charlie and Diane have written.
I have surely climbed with literary giants!