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[TR] Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak 08/01/2021

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Trip: Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak

Trip Date: 08/01/2021

Trip Report:





Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak  


Adam “Mo” Moline - Sacramento, CA

Emilio Taiveaho - Saxapahaw, NC

Gregorio “Brosi” Scott – Minneapolis, MN



 Day 1 – Hike to Lewis Meadows

 Day 2 – Hike to Glacier Pass

 Day 3 – Summit Push: East, Middle, and West Peaks

 Day 4 – Restorative climbing/Choss worship at Glacier Pass

 Day 5 – Hike out


         Seeking sweet sweet choss, a return to the Olympic Peninsula was in order. In 2020, Adam and I (emilio) climbed the West Peak in a three-day push—an adventure that left us hungry to explore more remote areas of the park and spend some time on the dense and complicated glacier system skirting Mt. Olympus. As this trip marked Gregg’s first backcountry experience, we pursued a comfortable line full of loose rock and crevasses, giving him a delightful taste of the proverbial “freedom of the hills.”


Day 1:

Our pilgrimage to Sunh-a-do began at the airport, as Adam and Greg picked me up from Seattle on Monday morning. Running low on sleep, I was full of nervous anticipation having just completed a run up Gannet Peak a couple days prior, climbing the South-East Couloir in a twenty-two-hour push. Although my legs were tired, my spirits were at all time high and I was eager to rest my legs by walking alongside the mossy delights of the Hoh River. We made good walking and camped at Lewis Meadows, this being the only site with open campsites along the developed trail. We had a leisurely afternoon spent reading Deleuze and Guattari by the river and beginning to contemplate how to make ourselves bodies without organs.


Day 2:

After a full night of rest, we began our hike up to Glacier Pass. Soaking in the sights and feeling healed by the forest we had no trouble getting up to Glacier Meadows. Auspiciously, on our way up a smiling mustached old-time climber yelped: “The Ice is great! You won’t even need a rope!” Once at the Blue Glacier, the leisurely walking continued. Crevasses were easy to spot and the ice was solid, so there was no need for crampons. After a good day of walking, arriving at our camp felt like a true treat—we were welcomed with open arms by the mountain. The afternoon was spent staring at Hermes and the Hoh Glacier, basking like lizards under the Washington sun.






Day 3:

 On our third day, we woke up early with our objectives in mind. Descending class 3 rock to the glacier, we put on our crampons and headed up the Hoh towards the East Peak. The Hoh Glacier was in lovely form and we heeded the old climber’s advice, seeing no need for ropes, and made good time negotiating crevasses. Once at the rock, climbing was straightforward, class 3 and 4 to the top. We all took slightly different routes to the top, but found no summit log there. We descended the way we approached, getting back on to the Hoh Glacier in order to approach Middle Peak.


The route up Middle Peak was marked by solid snow and heavenly sights. Getting onto the rock was straightforward. The route up was chossy class 3, maybe 4, with a couple cerebral moves. Here, we found a true summit register with a handful of entries—mainly from groups traversing the Bailey Range, which will be an objective in the future. Looking over at the West Peak and getting hungry for more climbing, we decided it was a good idea to rap from the top in order to make good time, traversing onto the Blue Glacier. We were moving fast now, downclimbing class 4 choss after a 30 m rap, when I was frozen by the sound of falling rock and the sudden mushrooming of a cloud of pure dust. This was Gregg’s first time climbing in the Alpine and he had expressed some fear, so my mind immediately rushed to the worst:  he had fallen and broken a limb… or worse. Rushing to see what happened, both Adam and I found Gregg suspended by his fingers and toes, having caught himself on a solid jug after a bloody, chossy, bruising rock slide. Seeing he was okay—just a little shook up—made me think of Jean Afanassieff’s legendary words “This is the fucking life! No?”




Thanking our lucky stars and bowing to the greatness of Mount Olympus, who humbled us yet kept us going, we made quick time across the Blue Glacier and arrived at the West Peak, troubled only by our own internal agitations and “what if” scenarios. Needing a respite, Gregg waited for Adam and I at the base of the climb as we scampered up the back. It was easy, class 4 climbing with a couple class 5 moves for good taste. At the top, we came across some mountaineers who had spent the last hour watching us cross the glacier. After some good conversation about the beauty of the Picket Range and this summer’s adventures, Adam and I headed down to Gregg, whose nerves were calmed and mood once again elevated.



We followed our tracks on the way back and found climbing Middle Peak from the west a welcome breeze. A single rap brought us back to the Hoh Glacier and with soulful bounding leaps, we navigated our way back to Glacier Pass. It’s true what Japhy Ryder says in The Dharma Bums, “You can’t fall off a mountain!” There are times when this adage is felt and its truth shines through—this is something that can only be experienced, description lacks what only the body relates.




Food tasted particularly tasty back at camp, where we were greeted by water and the sight of a fleeting hummingbird, attracted to our prayer flags and the vibrant colors of our jackets. That night was filled with a spilling milky way, stars as choss populating my deep sleep.



  Day 4:


The next day we awoke to make coffee and stretch, having carved out a day to rest and recover. Soaking in Glacier Pass without determinate plans we ate a meal of morels and other dried mushrooms, and decided to have a day full of turmeric, ginger, and meditative bouldering. Devotees of the lazy lizard school of hedonism, we worshipped the choss and spent a day on the rocks, singling out Hermes just across the glacier, and living on Big Rock Candy Mountain.



That evening, a small black bear crested Glacier Pass not realizing we were there. Upon hearing and seeing us, the Bear raccoonned down the Blue Glacier, moving quickly and lightly back down the glacier.


The night was filled with signs of inclement weather—it was clear we were going to be greeted by rain in the morning.


Day 5:


After another night of deep sleep, we woke up to morning rain and shifting clouds at our Glacier Pass Eden. We packed our gear and a steady glacier walk brought us back to the trail. Our boots guided us back to the trailhead, adorned by a couple water breaks. Near the end of our hike we came across a beautiful flush of Chicken of the Woods, and Adam gathered some for dinner.


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We are thankful, and will be back for you, Hermes.

Gear Notes:
Light rack, some cams and nuts.

Approach Notes:
Smooth Big Rock Candy Mountain Walkin'

Edited by emilio taiveaho pelaez
Fixed broken photos
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23 hours ago, emilio taiveaho pelaez said:

Devotees of the lazy lizard school of hedonism, we worshipped the choss and spent a day on the rocks, singling out Hermes just across the glacier, and living on Big Rock Candy Mountain.


the photo of one of you buried in choss! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 🍄 🍄 🍄 

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Man you guys are a bunch of HIPPIES! 

Great writing; thanks for the entertaining report that went in several unexpected directions.   That was a joy to read.

In addition to the choss photo,  the "I'm too sexy for this crevasse" one is pretty spectacular. 

Thanks and post again please.



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  • 10 months later...
On 8/24/2021 at 8:34 PM, emilio taiveaho pelaez said:

“You can’t fall off a mountain!”

I have a couple dead friends (both had long falls off of mountains) that make this sound more than a bit ridiculous (or maybe I just don't get it). 

But I do love the stoke you have for the mountains!

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2 hours ago, JasonG said:

I have a couple dead friends (both had long falls off of mountains) that make this sound more than a bit ridiculous (or maybe I just don't get it). 

But I do love the stoke you have for the mountains!

Jason - I am sorry for your losses, it's absolutely not my intention to disrespect the seriousness and gravity of the mountains. Most of my childhood heroes have died in the mountains, and our sport is populated with too many examples very real, unspeakable loss. I don't take this lightly. In the last year alone, I was deeply affected by Korra Pesce's tragic passing, despite never having met him personally. There are plenty (too many) painful examples like this. I don't mean to belittle risk, or to promote a naive view of the dangers of alpinism. Within the context of the trip report, the quote comes from Kerouac's The Dharma Bums: 

"Then suddenly everything was just like jazz: it happened in one insane second or so: I looked up and saw Japhy running down the mountain in huge twenty-foot leaps, running, leaping, landing with a great drive of his booted heels, bouncing five feet or so, running, then taking another long crazy yelling yodelaying sail down the sides of the world and in that flash I realized it's impossible to fall off mountains you fool and with a yodel of my own I suddenly got up and began running down the mountain after him doing exactly the same huge leaps, the same fantastic runs and jumps, and in the space of about five minutes I'd guess Japhy Ryder and I (in my sneakers, driving the heels of my sneakers right into sand, rock, boulders, I didn't care any more I was so anxious to get down out of there) came leaping and yelling like mountain goats or I'd say like Chinese lunatics of a thousand years ago, enough to raise the hair on the head of the meditating Morally by the lake, who said he looked up and saw us flying down and couldn't believe it. In fact with one of my greatest leaps and loudest screams of joy I came flying right down to the edge of the lake and dug my sneakered heels into the mud and just fell sitting there, glad. Japhy was already taking his shoes off and pouring sand and pebbles out. It was great. I took off my sneakers and poured out a couple of buckets of lava dust and said "Ah Japhy you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can't fall off a mountain." "And that's what they mean by the saying, When you get to the top of a mountain keep climbing, Smith.""


Personally, I've experienced moments of debilitating fear (particularly on descents), where I feel like i'm stuck on the mountain. This happened to me at the beginning of my climbing pursuits while attempting to summit Black Tooth in the Bighorns of Wyoming in an event that has shaped me ever since. Seeing my friends dance down the mountain gave me a feeling of ecstatic joy that allowed me to recognize that many of the fears I experienced were actually self-imposed. I believe this is what Kerouac is describing in this passage, it resonates. Something similar happened to Greg on this trip, where he realized he was afraid but by allowing the mountain to seep into his psyche, he could overcome his fears and gleefully move through difficult terrain. He got to the top of his own mountain and kept climbing, which really is what I was trying to express.


Thank goodness for the mountains! They are true teachers and they are sacred I hope they always stay wild. 



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