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[TR] Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus in a day 06/23/2022

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Trip: Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus in a day

Trip Date: 06/23/2022

Trip Report:


Mt. Olympus in a day


On Thursday, June 23rd, Adam “Mo” Moline, Monica Moline, and myself ran Mount Olympus, car to car, in 14 hours 43 minutes and 38 seconds. I firmly believe that with this run Monica holds the women's record for fastest known time for Mt. Olympus (If i'm wrong, please reach out to me with additional information!). Time, however, wasn’t so much what we were seeking as was having a blissful experience communing with the mountain under blue skies. Mo and Monica are notoriously humble, so this trip report comes as a way of celebrating both of their achievements since I know they would probably not be making much of what is, to most, truly a wild and exceptional thing to do.


Splits as recorded in our voice memos:

  • 0:33 mins Mt Tom
  • 1 hour Five Mile Island
  • 2:06 Ranger’s Station
  • 2:17 Lewis Meadows
  • 3:17 Elk Lake/High Bridge
  • 4:53 Glacier Meadows
  • 8:17 SUMMIT
  • Joyful Delusional Blur
  • 6:27 down

For a little more verifiability, here is a screenshot from Monica’s Garmin, shared with her consent:



You can also find Adam Moline on Strava, if you’re interested in his detailed splits, etc.

A few images from the trip:


Early Morning Start



up on the snow dome



Summit Block with Mo and Monica! 



A delirious return 



Trip Report:

With the end of the school-year and the summer solstice comes the season to worship the choss. Since choss is alive, choss worship changes from year to year depending on the moods, the weather, of the mountains. Following the same migratory patterns I’ve established for the last decade, I flew to the west coast to visit my kin, this time with sights set on climbing the Kautz Glacier with my mentor, eternal friend, and climbing partner, Mo Moline. In the restless pursuit of choss, it becomes easy to grasp the truth of what the song says when it says “you can’t always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes you find you get what need.” We had another climbing partner who dropped out the day before the climb, and aside from that it was a late spring (the mountains of Washington have been thick with winter well into June), there was far too much avalanche danger. We didn’t make it up the route. We both agreed we were here to listen to, rather than fight, the mountain.


In lieu of this summit, during a conversation a few days prior to our departure to Rainier, Mo’s wife, Monica, had somehow proposed and ignited the idea of us spontaneously running Mt. Olympus in a day. Monica’s idea had sent energy and dread through my stomach because I knew we would do it, especially if we didn’t get far on the Kautz. We had a perfect team for it. Both Monica and Mo are stellar athletes with brains to match, they’re two of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Even then though, it was still a crazy idea… Monica had never done something like this, and neither had Mo (though Mo had climbed Olympus before, twice, and has sharpened his mountaineering skills climbing in the Picket range). Keeping the possibility of the run in mind, while on Rainier we enjoyed the solstice, spending time listening to the birds and thanking the mountain for its lessons, fingering lichen and getting ready for what was ahead.


While it was a spontaneous decision to commit to running the mountain with a few days notice, the idea for this trip didn’t come out of nowhere. Mo and I had spoken about running Mount Olympus a little under a year ago (while moving under Olympus herself in fact), as the two of us, along with Seattle-based mountain goat Gregorio Brosi, were traversing the East, Middle, and West Peaks. For me, this traverse almost immediately followed a run/walk up Gannet Peak in Wyoming that I completed in 22 and a half-ish hours, an experience that led me to realize you can climb big, remote mountains (i.e. Olympus), in a day. [A little parenthetical here, running Gannet was a heady, grueling experience, but more importantly, it was an incredible time mountaineering and communing with a remote peak… Any opportunity to get into backcountry choss with my best friends is too good to pass up, so when Jake Johnson—by far the best climber and the strongest mountaineer I know—proposed the idea, there was no way I was going to let him do something like that without me.]


While this idea of climbing Olympus in a push had been in the air, a big part of me didn’t think we’d actually do it. I was scared, so I didn't bring it up. As a climbing team, we hadn’t spoken about it since last summer, I live far away, the logistics seemed too complicated with the other climbs we have lined up… but somehow everything for Olympus lined up, and making the push now made sense. I’ll say that while I’m no longer a distance runner, I try to stay in shape for my climbs in the the North Cascades, so I knew I would be able to pull it off despite a lack of ultra-marathon-specific training: any trip to the Pickets matches an ultra marathon in my book.


On Wednesday, June 22, Mo and I woke up on Rainier, drove back to Olympia where Monica got off work at around three thirty, and we drove to the Hoh Rainforest. Fueled by burritos and sandwiches on the way, we stopped outside the park entrance and I laid down my bivy by the side of the road as the two of them slept in the car. After three hours of sleep I was up at 12:19, a minute before my alarm. Monica and Mo were awake, too, we ate some bananas and drank some coffee and drove to the trailhead.


We entered the Hoh River Trail at 1:17 in the morning and were off. While the running started off smooth, the darkness led us to lose the trail a couple of times. It’s funny because the previous day we had read a trip report from someone climbing the mountain in 16 hours who wrote about “technical roots” slowing the approach and had laughed; being lost on a well marked trail at two thirty in the morning, those technical roots were real (but could be avoided in the future—these mainly happened at stream/creek crossings). Once back on the trail, everything was fairly smooth and we cruised through the morning hours at a 12-ish/hour mile pace, with very enjoyable moving up through Lewis Meadows.


It continued to be slow, easy miles up to the high bridge, around the section where the elevation begins to increase up to Glacier Meadows. Once on the incline, our pace settled to a fast walk, and we pushed up, rising in altitude alongside the rising sun. The varied thrush was the first to sing. Moving upwards, we didn’t stop until Glacier Meadows for our first real break. Eating some bars, filling up on water, and using the outhouse kept our spirits warm despite the increasingly cold weather. We were surprised to find so much snow up there (we encountered snow before we ran into the campsite). After twenty minutes, we had lost our morning’s heat and kept moving upward through the snow, eager to get into the sun’s beams. It was curious to go from being warm at 2 am to feeling cold at glacier meadows. Putting on yak trax we moved quickly as we took a snow ramp with bootpack leading up to the moraine. Once at the moraine we looked out at the glacier: it looked very heaven, healthy even. There was a group of three moving slowly across the blue glacier who seemed to be turning around, though we were unsure why. As we crossed paths, a father’s stern face indicated discontent with the two on the other side of the rope. We waved and made good time pushing up through the snow dome on hard but purchasable and delicious snow. Overall, the glacier system seemed to be thriving in comparison with some of my previous visits—the mountain made it clear it was a welcome winter. Unlike in previous summits, we saw very few exposed crevasses (though therefore recognize that there are plenty of crevasses all around). A firmly established bootpack carried us up through crystal pass and next to the false summit and we felt calculatedly confident on the terrain.


At this point of the morning, climbing came as a delightful break. It was restorative to touch rock, to move some choss out of the way of great holds. Moving with confidence and glee upwards, fingers flowing with the rock, all three of us were up in no time, and spent a few eternal moments on the summit block. On the way down, we cleaned some cams left behind on the fourth class (this is starting to become a yearly activity). Getting back on the snow and ice led us to the profound bliss of running down the glacier and the opportunity of taking long glissades. The euphoria of the morning had us feeling deeply good, deeply grateful, deeply humbled, this is the life!!!! Above Glacier Meadows we found a deep pool of water and had a brief respite, knowing, with a a wink and a nod, that the run was really just about to start.


And start it did. From here, it seems like we were running downhill and then running downhill and then running downhill. It felt like we were just shy of running up the rope ladder as we remembered what quads are. True fun. At this point, I felt so happy it was as if the mountain was running me rather than the other way around. The wild raw beauty brought tears to my face! It felt great to move quickly knowing we had just paid a visit to the sage mountain Mount Olympus, now we could feel like we were part of the wildlife. Going down under old growth we were eating minutes and making up trail just as much as eating up trail and making up minutes.


As we approached Lewis Meadows, our water strategy changed. Thinking we would be near water the whole time and wanting to save on weight, we thought to stop at convenient creek crossings and simply filter what we needed to drink at the moment. While this strategy led to non-ordinary states of consciousness, it proved to be to our detriment as we would later battle heat exhaustion and dehydration. For anyone doing this in the future: consider the last five miles, that is the crux. Water is your friend and will only help you get through it. A combination of delirium and my body’s desire to keep going meant that after our first of these new “quick breaks,” I didn’t stop again until a few miles out, when my pace really slowed down. Running through the flat terrain was overwhelming, the foliage was too beautiful and kept going, as did the miles. I didn’t look back to Mo and Monica because of a desire to be on the move, not to make good time but to make time good, and in my mind this would only happen in by moving so that I wouldn’t collapse on myself. Later, the two would tell me that they tried to maintain 10-12 min miles with frequent water and small breaks, but eventually also ran without stopping for the same fears. Mo says the battle against the self started at five mile island and Monica agreed that at that point the grit to finish was the crux of the run. Really, walking or stopping would have led to a strange kind of exhaustion, running was the only option for all of us at that point.


As I was ahead, I began to face a strange mental crux of continuing and my legs shifted between walking and quasi-running, I kept repeating to myself that I must study the walking of blue mountains and not slander the mountains by saying they are not walking, but maybe this was just a way of justifying my suffering. Luckily, with about a mile to go I sensed Monica and Mo behind me and the joy of their steps brought me back to a painful trot. I followed the two of them and we ran the last mile together, it felt like they were graciously carrying me and we finished at the same time having given it all we had.


Getting back to the car, we drove out of the rainforest, parked the car alongside the road and soaked our feet in the Hoh. Dreaming of burgers, we drove the Hard Rain Café and ordered three Mount Olympus Burgers, few things have ever tasted so delicious.


All thank yous to the mountain and to the choss!


Gear Notes:
Ice Axe, Yak Trax, Running backpack, Camelback, electrolytes.

Approach Notes:
Hoh River Trail, up through the Blue Glacier/Crystal Pass

Edited by emilio taiveaho pelaez
Fixing errors, typos.
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I’ve done Olympus in a day twice, one hiking the whole thing in 17-18 hours, and a run somewhere around 12.30. I haven’t heard of any women doing it, so I’m happy to agree that Monica is the current female time bandit for the route. It’s an excellent day route, totally doable but those last 5+ miles are always going to hurt. Super psyched to read this!

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