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Timcb

[TR] Mt Olympus- Blue Gl in a day 7/27/2006

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Climb: Mt Olympus-Blue Gl in a day

 

Date of Climb: 7/27/2006

 

Trip Report:

Last week, my friend Chris and I drove out to the Oly Pen after a bit of climbing at Index. We found road work on 104, coming from the Edmonds ferry, and the drive overall took longer than we'd thought. We pulled into the Hoh parking lot a bit after 12:15am on thursday. Fortunately, this was the only thing we got burned on for overestimating.

 

We agreed to two hours of sleep, and so were starting down the trail at 3:15, surprisingly invigorated and cruising out over the great trail under light packs. We kept a steady 4 mi/hr pace for the first couple handful of miles, and were careful to take lots of breaks to stuff our faces with the food we'd brought and pull swigs off our nalgenes.

 

At 12.4 mi, the trail truly begins to climb, but we barely broke stride. The exception being the long breaks (~30 min) that came to be our MO, when we would drop packs and simply eat and drink as much as we could as fast as we could. Spirits were high and with the marine layer burned off, it looked like the weather could not have been perfect.

 

6hrs after we left our car, we were at glacier meadows, and plowed on through to have another big meal at the top of the lateral before dropping onto the glacier (can you call jerky, pretzels and a bannana breakfast? I think so). We were careful while crossing the Blue, keeping our wits about us for crevasses and their telltale signs in the snow surface, since we had chosen to not bring a rope or any actual climbing gear beyond our axes and alum crampons. From the Blue, we scrambled 2nd and 3rd class rock the entire way up to snow dome. We later heard that not many people do this, but it was super casual and way easier than climbing the mushy snow all the way. The rock here is really compact and solid.

 

We'd gotten a bit of beta on our way up that the route between the false summit and 5 fingers was still good, so we headed up from the snow dome plateau, wound around a couple obvious crevasses/schrunds and arrived at the rock. Not going through crystal pass probably saved us a mile or so of glacier. Now on the back (south) side of the summit rock ridges, we got faked out by the false summit, and were a bit disheartened when we peeked over the top and saw the true summit still several hundred meters of choss away. Some nasty, loose down climbing and a short walk later, we were scrambling up the SE face of the true summit. The rock was really pretty loose, and a bit spooky for us (without our helmets), but we took good care not to crank any blocks out on each other as we scrambled up the 4th class terrain; our casual approach to route finding even led through a few low 5th moves.

 

We summited at 2:15 or so, and found a party of three hanging out on top, waving to their friends as they flew by in a small plane overhead. Another long break and we were out of there by 2:45, still under the most gorgeous beautiful skies imaginable. On a short aside, the interior of the Olympic Mtns are really spectacular. So much rock and ice, and just peaks upon peaks stretching off to the N, E and S. And to the West? You can let your imagine roam as to where you might next find land. The long straight valley of the Hoh lay below us, the not-so-subtle reminder that our work was not yet done. The climb of Olympus was also not nearly as trivial as Chris and I had thought. We were prepared for what we encountered, but expected something more along the lines of the scrambles around snoq pass, rather than the true mountain climb we found. It was a treat.

 

The trio on the summit let use their rope for the first bit of descent (dulfersitz?!, arm wraps, and finally hand-over-hand), then downclimbing, walking and a few glorious glissades and we were back to glacier meadows by 5:15. Our guess of spending half as long on the descent as on the ascent bore out perfectly.

 

It was at this point that our competitive sides began to get the best of us. We'd been hoping all along that we would finish the climb in under 24 hrs, but even by the time we reached glacier meadows, that seemed pretty assured (barring injury). The next challenge we had posed to ourselves was to complete in under 20 hrs. Although we lost a lot of time on a longer climb than we'd expected, we were back in the right ballpark by the time we'd returned to the trail. We really began to cruise on the descent, making up even more time. We took another long break at the beautiful bridge 13.1 miles from Hoh visitor center, ate our last big meal, drank our red bulls, and changed into our dry socks (having let our sneakers dry out a bit). I took the lead on the pace at this point and with our spirits just soaring on this spectacular afternoon, began hiking as fast as I possibly could, loving the trail, the air, the trees, and the skies, but also fully wrapped up in pushing my body and seeing what we could do. Not even a mile later, we were back on the flats, and Chris settled into an even jog (my stride's got a few inches on his) behind my bounds, vaults and near-powerwalking.

 

We started checking the time, and with 20hrs in the bag, and our pace dialed in at 5 mi/hr, we upped our expectations to 19 hrs and finally 10pm and a goal to finish before we had to take our headlamps out again. We still took our hourly breaks, but they got shorter and shorter, as cramps, aches, and pains began to dominate our bodies. Only 5 miles out from the cars, and 65 minutes to go before 10 pm, we collapsed on the soft, cool grass to catch our breath. We thought we could do it. But our pace began to sag as the twilight faded from the sky and our disobedient minds began to entertain thoughts of "Why? Why this pain?"

 

At 9:51, we passed the last milemarker 0.9 miles from the car. We both broke into a run, and just grunted over the pitch dark trail 'til we were out. Ugh.. Time: 10:01 smile.gif You just can't get everything you want. That night we collapsed beside Chris's truck to catch a much needed rest. At 5 we were out and back on the road...

 

So this was a great trip for us, and would be for any other fit party on a beautiful day. The trail and the Hoh river are beautiful, the mountain is beautiful, and the whole thing has the length (we've heard anything from 40 to 44 miles) and vertical rise (7400') to present a real challenge. One of the other little surprises we caught from a ranger we met at one of our stops. He said that only one or two parties complete Olympus in a day each year. Chris and I were pretty surprised to hear this: We're fit and were able to do it in 18 hrs and 45 min, but there's no doubt in our minds that there are many, many other climbers in the NW who are far stronger than we are. Can the ranger's statistic really be true?

 

anyway, it was great fun, and would be at any level, or over any length of time. Here's to Olympus and the Olympics. bigdrink.gif

 

Gear Notes:

I think our gear was just right: trail runners, spare socks, trekking poles, axe, alum crampons, lots of food, water, headlamp, one warm layer and a shell. We used everything we brought and wanted nothing more.

 

Approach Notes:

The approach is one of many highlights. See the TR for details

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Coolness. Eyed this as both a great multiday trip and a challenging single day.

 

How much water did you bring? Refill along the way?

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And if this weren't enough, both Chris and Tim joined me on the West Ridge of Stuart on only one day of rest. With today as a rest day, they will be out after the Torment-Forbidden Traverse tomorrow.

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Sick! thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

 

I know one other party that did it in under 48 hours this year and was hassled by the ranger who said, "not many people do it in less than three days, I'm not sure I can give you a permit" rolleyes.gif

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How much water did you bring? Refill along the way?

 

We each carried up to 2 L of water, since the one thing we did forget to bring was iodine. We filled up at a little creek up high near glacier meadows near where the trail had recently washed out (in the avy gullies). Since we knew the creeks were small and there were no people above, we felt comfortable drinking the cool, clear, rushing water. I'll let you know if I end up spending the next couple weeks on the pot.

 

Now, on how hard it was: I want to say this in the least chest-beating way possible, but it really wasn't so bad- I think the only thing that really knocked us out at the end of the day was our mad dash for the visitor center, and that was just us being dumb. If we'd continued on at the same reasonable (but still speedy) pace we'd done the rest of the day, I think we would have been pretty beat, but we wouldn't have had nearly as much pain or difficulty finishing.

 

On rangers: doing it as we did avoided a host of hassles. No need to pay for an 'overnight' permit, since we weren't overnighting anywhere in particular. The trails were clear of people. Getting in at midnight, there was no one to weigh in on the wisdom or safety of our plans. The only authorities we ran into were on the way back out, and they were all just surprised/impressed (and glad we hadn't killed ourselves). I think the SCA ranger we passed at glacier meadows at 9am that morning had no idea we were planning on actually climbing the mtn, what with such small packs and our supposedly "late" start.

 

Another thing I'd forgotten to mention in the TR were the wildlife we met at dawn. About 8 miles in, just as it's getting light enough to hike without headlamps, we startled (almost got stampeded by?!) a herd of about 20-30 elk. Man, they made some noise as they dashed off the trail in front of us. Very eerie, and almost magical, to be hiking through open glades of moss-draped maples, in the dim light of dawn, accompanied by a herd of elk and the haunting hoots of far-off owls. It was a very quiet time for us.

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I am glad I was able to give you that beta about the 4th of July bridge. Glad to hear that you all motored the route.

 

Merp

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