bremerton_john Posted August 17, 2005 Share Posted August 17, 2005 (edited) Climb: Valhallas to Olympus- Date of Climb: 8/6/2005 - 8/13/2005 Trip Report: On Saturday Aug 6th Tony, Kevin (Animal) and I entered the South Fork of the Hoh. We spent the next eight days bushwacking, route-finding, climbing (rock, ice, snow, trees), and trudging our way up and down endless scree slopes en route to the Valhallas, cross country to Athena, over the Hoh and Blue glaciers to summit Olympus and finally a 18 mile day out the Hoh trail on Saturday the 13th. The idea for this trip originated from Gabiot, my French climbing friend who did the traverse a few years ago. He was unequivocally vague about the details, especially the ridge traverse, preferring not to spoil any sense of adventure or discovery should we attempt a repeat. I thank him for that, because the week lived up to our expectations. I thought the Valhallas would be an interesting group of peaks to visit due to their remoteness and difficulty of getting to, plus we just couldn’t resist seeing for ourselves if the bushwack up the South Fork of the Hoh was as joyful as advertised. This would be Tony’s second trip into the Vals, and enough time had passed since the first trip (15 years) that he was willing to go for it again. Kevin and I left Bremerton early on Saturday the 6th, stopping in Sequim to caravan with Tony. After leaving one car at the Hoh Visitor Center we drove around to the end of the South Fork Hoh road and began hiking in around noon. On the national park permit under the section titled “List Camp Locations” Kevin scrawled “All over the place”. We deemed that sufficient, as did the ranger we encountered at the end of the trip whom took delight in hearing that we had made it. The bushwack up the South Fork Hoh actually turned out to be fairly manageable, aided by the fact that the river level was pretty low, allowing us to hike up the dry river bars along the banks in places. We also found abundant elk trails, and elk for that matter, stumbling on one herd of about 35 that were bedded down in the forest adjacent to the river. After a warning bugle they moved out to the river. Upon seeing our ugly mugs they crashed through the trees and were out of sight in an instant. After spending one night on the river and continuing upstream the next day, we reached Valkyrie Creek around 3:00pm. The grueling scramble up through the steep forested hillside below the Valhallas took its toll on us, and we were quite satisfied to make camp in the meadows with the west side of Olympus as our backdrop, and views of the Pacific ocean at sunset. Olympus looks quite different from the west, appearing more as a rocky peak than a glaciated one from this side. On the morning of the third day we made a failed attempt at a direct ridge approach to the north side of Freya and Frigga that eventually cliffed out. So we dropped into the valley directly below the snout of the Geri-Freki glacier where we would later set up camp. We then went up to, and crossed the glacier, ascending to the high point at the base of Munin, intent upon running its ridge to the summit. We traversed a ways along the ridge over what was reportedly 4th class terrain, climbing over the rock as a team of 3 for the first time on the trip. Kevin and I had never climbed with Tony before, so it proved to be a good group experience as we would need to cooperate well in the days ahead. The next morning Tony and I hiked up to the base of Frigga with the purpose of either finding the established 5.0 route number 2 from the guidebook, or another way up. We ended up climbing a new route. Tony led up from the talus at the base, just off the glacier on the spire’s south side, and rained torrents of rocks down adjacent to my belay spot as he cleaned his way up the rock. The line he choose eventually turned out to be a decent 4 pitch route around 5.5, pretty consistent to the top. The rock, typical of the Val’s is a light brown sandstone with small pockets of deep red that is blocky and more solid. Considering it’s the Olympics, the rock climbing was actually pretty good, a nice change from the typically friable eastern Oly basalt. Pitons came in quite handy though. At this point we felt the need to get moving towards Olympus, due to only a vague notion of how we were going to traverse the ridge and a sense that we ought to be getting at it while the weather forecast looked good. We’ll have to return to the Vals another day for a shot at Loki Spire or some of the others. Without giving anything away, over the next day and a half we worked our way along the ridge, finding easy terrain in some spots, and heinous gully crossings and brushcrashing in others. The ridge leads nearly directly to Athena, however poses a series of significant obstacles the closer one gets. Gabiot and his partner worked their way down the northside of the ridge and across the west side of Olympus, swinging around on the snow dome. We went the opposite direction, eventually working our way onto the south ridge of Athena II, adjacent to the Jeffers glacier, where we spent a night on the peak’s shoulder high above the clouds. We were lucky that evening to look down upon the upper Hoh glacier for a way through the crevasses. The next morning was completely fogged in, the only time during the week it was not sunny and clear. So in the AM we dropped down onto the glacier and picked our way around the significant openings in the ice until rising above the clouds. We went up and over Middle Peak, then crossed over the upper Blue glacier to Five Fingers, setting up camp for the night, waiting for the winds to subside before we went up the 5th class pitch of the summit block on West Peak in the morning. Incidentally, in answer to a question from an earlier post, the ashes that are on the summit (and they are still there, in small piles) are those of Robert Woods, author of the definitive guide to trails in the Olympics. He died a year and a half ago, and several of his friends placed his ashes up there last summer. The route up West peak was still in fine shape folks, and this was only last Thursday. We had the mountain to ourselves for 3 days, not seeing anyone until we had descended to Cal-Tech rocks. Have the erroneous reports of conditions kept people away, or was it the Hood Canal Bridge closure? On Saturday we hit trail for the first time since the beginning of the trip and hiked the 18 miles out to our car, quite soar to say the least. Highlights of the trip: not seeing anyone for 7 days straight, seeing bear, herds of elk, goats that actually run from you, experiencing a remote part of the park, climbing in the Vals, and summiting Olympus (my first time). This is a special corner of the park, maybe “wilder” than the Baileys. Certainly less traveled. Edited August 17, 2005 by bremerton_john 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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