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CollinWoods

Mount Olympus-Winter???

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This has been addressed in previous posts. A search would turn them up.

Besides the obvious problem with Olympus being the first target for every single weather system hitting the NW, the approach trail crosses a large avy path. You will need a very long window of stable weather-- longer than you'd need to climb Rainier in winter-- in order to cross this area safely, summit, then cross safely again. Or you could look into alternate approaches, but the same factors are likely to apply.

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Hmmmm....probably severe avalanche danger on the approach and mountain. Probably wading through waist deep (or deeper) powder. I would say that skis would be pretty much a requirement.

 

Does anyone know if it has ever been completed? I know it has been attempted many times, but many parties don't even reach Glacier Meadows.

 

If you pull it off, DEFINITELY post the TR.

 

The Hoh might not even be the best route in during the winter. There is at least one part I can think of that could be quite sketchy with snow.

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If the Hoh is not the best what would be the alternatives?

 

I said "might not". The problem with that approach is the area around Elk Lake and Glacier Meadows is quite steep and could be hazardous for avalanches. If you got a good weather window though, this might not be a problem. There are still places on the hike in that are trivial without snow, that you wouldn't want to fall with snow.

 

That said, there are a few other routes that may be possible in winter when the brush is covered (that would normally be horrendous). Possibilities include: South Fork Hoh to the Valhallas and traverse to Olympus from there (probably not a good route, but would be beautiful), North Fork Quinalt to Low Divide, up the Elwha and over to the Humes (this could present many bad avalanche slopes as well), but my favorite idea would be to take the Bailey range in to the Hoh glacier.

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I am sure it has been climbed in winter, however the climbers guide still states there is no documented summit in winter I believe. Myself and crazy Ted did go up to the snow dome one February, but did not continue on the short way to the summit. We were able to go up during an arctic front, with several days of blue skies, no new snow, and really cold temperatures. Because of those conditions, we were able to hike the upper hoh, and snow dome with crampons, and not snow shoes. The trail above elk lake to glacier meadows was steep and icy and we had to rope up, use ice axe and crampons on the trail. The rest was ok. Had we known at the time of no documented ascent we would have toughed it out and done the summit. So... go up during an clear arctic front, and avoid all the crappy weather.

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The first known winter ascent of Mt Olympus was by Jim Hawkins of the IGY project in January 1958. I've documented it here, based on a phone conversation with Jim:

 

http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/comm/hawkins-jim.html

 

The first unsupported winter ascent (by a party that hiked in independent of the IGY efforts) appears to be the one by Richard Springgate, John Norgord, Jan Still, and John Wells of the U.W. climbing club in 1965. This was documented in Summit magazine. See the following brief note:

 

http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/period/summit/summit-1960-69.html#summit-1965-mar-p18

 

These ascents are referenced on the following page:

 

http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/chronology/olympics.html

 

In early 2005, I sent this information to members of Olympic Mountain Rescue for inclusion in the guidebook. Hopefully it will make it into a future edition.

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Lowell,

Hopefully your info will make it into the guidebook.

 

While Hawkins likely made the first winter ascent of Olympus in 1958, the record of winter ascents in the overall Olympic range--as maintained by Olympic Mountain Rescue--is incomplete and questionable.

 

A good, honorable friend who now lives here on the east side reported in the 1970s to OMR of several winter ascents he made, including solo, and was told they would not be recorded because, as I understand it, Olympic Mountain Rescue didn't want to promote irresponsible behavior in the mountains.

 

If you want more info, you're welcome to PM me. --Steve Reynolds

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If Olympic Mountain Rescue are the ones who are in charge or at least taking the lead in maintaining records of accents in the Olympic range then they should keep those records public and more importantly accurate.

 

"A good, honorable friend who now lives here on the east side reported in the 1970s to OMR of several winter ascents he made, including solo, and was told they would not be recorded because, as I understand it, Olympic Mountain Rescue didn't want to promote irresponsible behavior in the mountains."

 

If there is any truth to that statement that is bullSh*t. If that is truly their concern then maybe some one else should be in charge of keeping assent records, such as the Mountaineers. Records should not be subject to censorship in an effort to not “promote irresponsible behavior.” If that was truly the case then all the climbing rags should not be published. I truly hope that is not the case and they will make the info available to the public and that information makes it into a future guidebook.

 

Thanks Lowell for putting that info out for everybody to read.

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If Olympic Mountain Rescue are the ones who are in charge or at least taking the lead in maintaining records of accents in the Olympic range then they should keep those records public and more importantly accurate.

 

This seems to be quite common with the guidebook not being accurate. There are several places that I have either climbed or spoken with people who have climbed a peak in question that supposedly has never seen an ascent, only to find either a register or a piece of rap sling. These are mostly chossy 5th class spires that seem to have been fairly popular sometime during the 80s. Many have no obvious record except for evidence at the top of the peaks. Interesting that an Olympus winter ascent is similar, as I was under the impression that it had not been done in the winter.

 

I have somewhat of an interest in seeing the next version of the guidebook become more complete as to what has been climbed. There are numerous small peaks and spires, mostly in the interior of the range that may or may not have been climbed. One in particular, though not in the interior is a large spire just to the south of Bretherton. From across the valley it appears to be 4th or 5th class and VERY difficult to reach (probably best reached by carrying over/rapping down from Bretherton). Who knows whats on that side though, as it may be simply a walkup.

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If somebody were to pull together undocumented climbs in the Olympics, I think it could make a good article (or perhaps just a short report) for the Northwest Mountaineering Journal (http://www.nwmj.org). That would get it into the historical record. The NWMJ website is maintained by the Mountaineers, so it has longevity.

 

 

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If somebody were to pull together undocumented climbs in the Olympics, I think it could make a good article (or perhaps just a short report) for the Northwest Mountaineering Journal (http://www.nwmj.org). That would get it into the historical record. The NWMJ website is maintained by the Mountaineers, so it has longevity.

 

 

Unfortunately, from what I've personally seen, most of the undocumented ascents took place during a heyday in the 80s. Most of the lesser known peaks will have a summit register that has the FA, followed by 1 or more ascents in the 80s, then nothing until the present. Maybe the only way to get some of this info would be to do some of those climbs and take pictures of the registers. For some reason, the 80s seemed to be a popular time to go nab chossy 5th class routes, and there was no internet forum to go report the accomplishment.

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Thanks for the invitation, Lowell. I'll pass it on to my friend.

 

I'm interested in knowing OMR's current stance on reporting winter ascents, and providing an accurate record. I don't know anyone in their org, but I'll contact them through their website. If anyone knows who the actual editor is, please pass it on. I don't have the Olympic Mountain Guide, but see their 4th ed. was printed in 2006, with the first one originally out in the late 50s. Not expecting, then, a new edition for at least several years. But perhaps the next edition can be made more complete and accurate.

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The guidebook chairman is Keith Spencer. If you need to ask him questions I can forward anything to him. I was on the guidebook committee on the latest edition. To address a few of the comments made here:

 

"...was told they would not be recorded because, as I understand it, Olympic Mountain Rescue didn't want to promote irresponsible behavior in the mountains. "

 

I can't speak for the motivation used in previous editions, but I can tell you in full confidence this was NOT a factor during discussions in the recent edition. OMR is certainly dedicated to promoting safe activities in the mountains. However, as it pertains to recording first ascents, this was not a part of it.

 

"...they should keep those records public and more importantly accurate. "

 

First, OMR isn't hiding anything from the public. The committee solicited input from the climbing community for several years before the recent publication, including several postings on this web-site. OMR's website also maintains a request for any new route info to be sent to them. (Lowell also makes the great suggestion of publishing new reports in the NWMJ.) All information received was reviewed and given careful consideration prior to inclusion to make sure it was as accurate as possible. In a few cases (and I can't remember specifics, because there may have only been 1 or 2) FA claims were not published because of questionable sources (not the case here - see below).

 

"...there was no internet forum to go report the accomplishment."

 

I'll agree there are a number of peaks and spires that see very infrequent ascents. I've been on a few of them myself and found the most recent signatures to be 5, 10 or sometimes 20 years old. Times passes, trip reports get lost, people die, or forget, so the information is lost. By all means, send in those reports. There are those of us on the committee who do monitor this site as well as others. Before the 4th edition we contacted a number of posters here for follow up information.

 

The book is only as current as the information the committee has to work with. We went on numerous climbs to verify and fact-find, but inevitably there are going to be errors and omissions. That's why this forum is of such value to us all.

 

Now to the main topic of this thread, "In early 2005, I sent this information to members of Olympic Mountain Rescue for inclusion in the guidebook. Hopefully it will make it into a future edition." First, thanks again Lowell for your help in this and the other work you've shared with us over the years. Next, I'll concede I may have to consult with a few others who were present during the discussions to check their memory, but as I recall we did not include the first winter ascent of Olympus possibly because (1) it wasn't certain that Hawkins was the first (see Lowell's references), (2) there had been reports of earlier ascents in winter-like conditions in early spring, (3) the committee decided to keep the book's focus on route descriptions and not on the history of various ascents, information that can be attained elsewhere, and (4) there was concern from some about starting the precedent of listing first winter ascents in addition to first ascents. We've already heard a few complaints about the size of the book increasing from previous editions. In the book there is the brief discussion on the first ascent of Olympus, notably because it is the highest and most predominant peak in the range, and it was felt there was some interest in including this background. The inclusion of first winter ascent accounts could certainly be re-considered for future editions and everyone's input here on this topic is most welcome.

 

John Myers

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I love the historical notes in guidebooks.

 

I own both the most recent Oly book and one from the 1980s.

 

Had thought of ditching the new book, because it was mainly the old book in a less attractive format.

 

Am very attached to my older copy, which is holding together pretty well.

 

Also, I love the fact that Mt. Olympus has never been climbed in winter!! Don't change it!!

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If the Hoh is not the best what would be the alternatives?

 

Tom Creek? South Fork Hoh? Not my idea of a good time. As far as OMR goes, they lost a lot of credibility in my book when they participated in (started?) the "Mount Olympus is Closed" rumor/fiasco of summer 2005.

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Despite admirable work that obviously went into the 2006 edition, these answers aren't-- shall we say?-- optimal........

 

My historical question is, what percentage of the copy from '06 edition, and the several earlier editions, is from Beckey's 1950s work?

 

I'd really like to compare a re-print or facsimile edition of Beckey's first guidebook. I doubt it will be forthcoming.

 

Perhaps it's merely rude and I ought simply not to say this, but having worked a few hours to purchase this latest edition, I'm still thinking of donating or selling it somewhere and keeping my earlier edition.

 

 

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As far as OMR goes, they lost a lot of credibility in my book when they participated in (started?) the "Mount Olympus is Closed" rumor/fiasco of summer 2005.

 

Just for the record, that 2005 "rumor/fiasco" originated from a mountaineer website posting http://www.xsorbit6.com/users/stevefirebaugh/index.cgi?board=Beta&action=display&num=1118224349, which made frequent, but erroneous attributions to Olympic Mountain Rescue. The poster (Stephen McKim) was clearly referring to the (now out of business) Port Angeles outdoor retailer and sometime guide service Olympic Mountaineering. He even lists their phone number on that same posting.

 

John

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I climbed Olympus one Feb in the late 1990's. We were pretty stoked to have a First Winter ascent, at least for a few days.

Someone in our party dug around and whoever he talked to speculated we were areound the 7th or 8th FWA.

Was a good trip. Slept in the shelter and then again on the top of the snow dome. Summit block was interesting. Walking up the Hoh was a little worse in winter thanks to the blow down, many downed trees to navigate. Avalanche issues were not a big problem thanks to elevation, goes without saying, low elevation and near the Pacific.

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This is so sad. It is like the ghost of Frederick Cook come to haunt us. The big difference here being nobody really cares so why not take people at their word? They're not going to be dining out on their story for long, especially if they can't bring a slide show.

 

Reilly Moss

FWA Central Buttress Willis Wall; I got the pics but don't care!

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