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[TR] Olympics+ - Valhallas to Olympus Traverse and


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Trip: Olympics+ - Valhallas to Olympus Traverse and more


Date: 7/22/2010


Trip Report:

The good fortune of late summer unemployment brought ample opportunity for some pack er' up and get the hell outta town action. We took off July 22nd with an open schedule, a full car, and high intentions to make the most of it. Over the next 18 days we climbed in the Olympics, North Cascades, and the Enchantments, combining all into a grand road trip that'll be hard to match in the future.

First up were the Olympics, the closest and most ambitious of our venture plans. Inspired by Steph Abegg's TR, I decided a Valhallas to Olympus traverse was a perfect introduction to the range, this being the first time in the area for either of us. I have long fancied a trip into the Olympic mountains, but other places have usually won out in favor. Besides having the most appealing mountain names outside of the Pickets, the Valhallas' remoteness and spectacular scenery made the area a clear choice. Besides, might as well get the worst approach out the way, and now things only look up. Its not the long distance that keeps the crowds away, but rather the miles of bushwhacking and tedious scrambling before you even reach the base of the mountains. In all, it wasn't that bad, and I actually somewhat enjoy that kind of approach. We covered a lot of unsavory terrain and numerous times hit impasses that forced backtracking, but overall it was better than a long, monotonous trail. Bred and raised on the Oregon coast, our schwacking abilities are that of many men combined, and with that we faced the legendary approach with confidence.. Returning the way we came, however, was a thought we both despised. So if you plan on climbing in the Valhallas, you might as well do the traverse. Plus, if you want to summit Olympus, this way you save the $15 park entrance fee.


Sorting group gear has never been easier. With a fifi hook, picket, quickdraw, and two plastic bags we achieved total balance quite quickly.4895579898_74edf26e36_z.jpg


Massive logjams were the joy of day number one.



Evidence of locals. For the first two days we followed the S fork closely behind a herd of elk. They would stay just out of sight and we would follow their many signs and tracks for the easiest route. This worked well except when they opted to ford the river, understandable though considering it was fiendishly hot out.



This photo represents deep anguish, hunger, and hours of revolting consumption of crunchy rice. After a long day's effort we were excited to cook some dinner, only to realize the fuel we purchased didn't fit the stove.. Damn you campingaz! It was worse than being kicked in the balls, more like losing the love of your life.. Depression set in and we almost called it quits. We eventually decided to push onward, but we were forced to do so with a useless stove and dinner every night that tasted like something between vomit and cardboard.



Typical terrain for the first half of day two. Side-hilling through thick brush above a not so friendly 30 ft drop to the river.



Exposed log crossing.



Ascending Valkyrie creek was the crux, as expected, but It wasn't as bad I'd imagined. We must have found one of the better lines, for sheer terror was never encountered. Because of low water levels, we were able to cross the Hoh right at Valkyrie, and from there we followed the creek for a short ways and ventured up to the left as things became steeper. Lots of 4th class forest and shrubbery saw us uphill towards the ridge. Hours of groveling up tree lie backs, roots jugs, and dirt slabs brought us the alpine meadows; arrival here and finally seeing accessible mountains was quite the relief. No major obstacles were encountered, but in hindsight, crampons and axe would have been mighty useful for the tedious uphill battle.



At last, alpine meadows and the Valhallas.





We had planned on climbing Mt Thor and Loki Spire before heading towards Olympus, but by this point we had realized our food supply was a major limiting factor. Remaining rations averaged about 1300 calories a day, and with half that being uncooked rice, our food situation was far too meager to climb everything we wanted. We committed to the Olympus traverse, preferring it over the alternative of peak bagging in the Valhallas and a return out the S fork.

Traveling from the Geri-Freki to Hubert glacier was straightforward at first, but eventually turned into a series of guesses as we picked our way over the series of ridges and sub-summits. Doing this in inclement weather would be impossible, but our day was bestowed with all too perfect, into the frying pan weather. It was fairly miserably hot at times. At one point we refused to move for over an hour, just lying there in the hot sun, sucking water out of snowballs. As we moved closer to the Hubert, route finding became less and less confident. We saw a snow ramp heading down and out of sight, presumably in the right direction. It appeared our best option but was a blind, hopeful decent down the only visible line through the otherwise cliff lined valley. The slope kept getting steeper until we reached what looked like the end of the road, a drop off down to the toe of the glacier. Moral here was rather un-jolly, considering our bleak options of re-ascending and searching further, but an inquisitive peek over the edge by Gabe found a miracle ledge, cutting across the steep face and leading to snow at the bottom of the valley.


We descended from the shoulder at top center, to the snow finger below, where a ledge through the choss-nastiness brought us to the bottom. 4895012585_fe93e05ea6_z.jpg


Route of day three.



Mt Olympus from the south.



From a distance the line looked questionable, intimidating at best. It turned out to be very smooth and straightforward. From the snow dome we joined up with the boot pack and headed for the summit. A group of eight on the summit block meant for long breaks, up and down, but after our journey's effort, that wasn't a problem. They even left their rock gear in place for us to simul through on the way up, thanks! This was handy, as our entire rock rack consisted of two tri-cams.


East Peak from Olympus Summit.



The hike out was long, painful, and hungry.


Parting shot from the Olympics.



The rest of the trip saw amazing adventure as well, almost as glorious as the traverse. In the North Cascades we stayed with a backcountry ranger buddy in Marblemount, climbed Sahale mountain, and made an attempt on the Triad. All went well except the entirely too regular, about to get the zap of a lifetime lightning affairs. Multiple times we found ourselves running/scrambling beyond the point of exhaustion with our ice axes buzzing and arcing and our hair literally standing on end, certain that at any moment we would be struck down by the rods of Zeus. This happened on three separate occasions within five days.


The storm's a brewin'



Mt Forbidden



Scrambling towards the Triad



Hidden Lake



Good times and most excellent adventure





Gear Notes:

We went light, 35lb packs for five days including 30m 8mm rope, 2 pickets, and 2 tri-cams. Next time, less clothing and way more food.


Approach Notes:

Follow the elk to Valkyrie Creek and head up.

Edited by dorianlee
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A trip to be remembered for sure. I don't have a camera right now but I did get a few shots on a disposable, better than nothing.


The chossiest boulder problem ever?



Thor and Loki



Camp at the base of the hubert glacier



This could have been a good shot if I had a real camera



Definitely want to return to all the areas visited, especially the Enchantments, our stay there was far too short.


Not sure if you guys post on here but thanks to Jeff and Jason for sharing gourmet food with us at hidden lake! And to Kip for letting us crash at your place! You guys made a great trip that much better!

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I love that pic of the neve of the Blue.... That is Middle Peak tho (centered in your pic.. East Pk is on left)... this is what it looked like in June..





Here's East Pk.. with Middle Pk up and to the right..




Regardless.... Sweet traverse... and great pics.. :brew:

Bummer about your fuel.. not sure I would have carried on.. HC!

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Great pick of climbing the root ball of the tree to cross the river. That looks suspiciously like the same tree Steph and I used in 2007. I sounds like you found a better rout up the hillside than we did, ours was bad.


Certainly one of the coolest places I've been. Way to get there and back, even without stove fuel. Ironically the "Camping Gaz" fuel is the harder stuff to find on this side of the pond. Congratulations on your unemployment and grand adventure.

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Climbing root balls is surely unsatisfactory.. Not only do the holds evaporate, they quickly end up embedded in your lungs and ass crack..

Lessons were learned on the stove too. If you bring a stove, make sure the fuel works! But also, on this type of trip, a stove really isn't necessary, pure luxury. If you bring the right kind of food and some iodine, you can cut big weight.

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you couldn't start a fire to cook yer dinner? :crazy:

We didn't have a cook pot worthy of fire roast.. Cold water soakage softened the crunch a bit but it only slightly reduced the nastiness. Used to be my favorite alpine dinner but now, even cooked, it conjures sensations of ill.


Good to hear from you Jason! The lookout sure saw good eatin, I think smoked wieners in mashed potatoes might just be the best thing I've eaten in the mountains..

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We didn't have a cook pot worthy of fire roast..

i still don't understand, though i am admittedly a very dense hombre - how can a pot stand up to a stove but not a wood fire? i'd think even a jetboil hi-speed setup could be made to serve given the right amount of desperation :)


remember eating my instant grits sans hot water once when the fuel gave out - suck!

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My accomplice had a jetboil, and we thought it ruinous to put it over a fire. It would survive, but would be charcoaled to shit for life.. Besides, we only had fire making supplies down in the valley in the beginning of the trip, when hunger wasn't near its peak as we had other non cooking foodstuffs to burn through. The rice took on real importance once the relatively delicious options were exhausted..

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