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Eric Anderson

Mt Olympus summit - 4th of July Route - 07.05 to 0

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4 of us set out the morning of July 5th for an attempt of Mt Olympus. Our goal was to climb it in 3 days, perhaps a bit ambitious given the way weather seems to work out for us on our past climbs but with a favorable looking forecast, we were optimistic. Thursday was the 4th of July making beer and BBQ a requirement but with a 3am departure from Seattle I was responsible and limited myself to a 6-pack and was in bed by midnight.

After stopping halfway for a nourishing McD’s breakfast, we arrived at the trailhead shortly after 8am for the usual gear sort and hit the trail by 8:30. A mere 17.5 miles separated us from our campsite.



I had never been in the Hoh Rain Forest before but it’s beautiful although it took me a few miles to wake up and start enjoying it. The trail is in great condition and very flat for the first 10 or 12 miles so you can keep a quick pace. Shortly before the ranger station I was behind my group taking photos and started walking quick to catch up while still looking around snapping shots. I heard a buzz and looked down and saw I was about to step on a cluster of bees. I tried to jump over them and took off running but not before feeling a few stings. I ran to the ranger station hoping they’d have some kind of ointment but of course they were closed and I resorted to the ‘after sting’ wipes in my first aid kit. Some research after getting home makes me think they were bald-faced hornets which explains why I didn’t have stingers in my leg or why it hurt so much for just having 6 stings! The pain went away and left an annoying itch and we pressed on.




After Elk Lake the trail begins to climb and narrow. Eventually we came to the cable ladder which was annoying but not difficult. The tree it is attached to looks very suspect though.




After about 10.5 hours we reached Glacier Basin and chugged a bunch of water and tried to cram some calories. It was pretty nice to not have to dig out tent platforms for once and other than the mosquitos the camp was pretty nice.




We originally aimed to get started by 3am as we heard the route was breaking up a bit and there might be dicey spots near the top but after the long hike in our beds felt too nice and it was close to 4:30 before we were moving. Leaving Glacier Basin the route quickly turned to snow and we alternated between rock and snow as we headed up to the ridge for our first and very breathtaking view of Olympus and the Blue Glacier.




After climbing down the ridge we made the easy walk across Blue Glacier and headed up Snow Dome. Initially climbing up our progress was slow but the conditions were perfect and we averaged 1200’ an hour w/o exertion to the top of snow dome. The wind picked up a bit which felt great as it was already feeling warm out. Ahead of us we could see other parties navigating the larger crevasses opening up but the route looked straightforward and ended up being so until we reached the gap between rocks before you go around to the backside to access the false summit.




After weaving through the larger crevasses there is a steep section you traverse and a large moat had opened on the uphill side that was about a 15’ drop down. We followed the tracks on the flatter part which ran along the moat, this turned out to be the most ‘exciting’ part on the way to the false summit but passed without incident. A short section up after that and a couple more easy snowbridges and we found ourselves on the false summit.




From the false summit is a steep gully that two of went down and up to reach the summit block (2 in our party didn’t have rock experience.) We had to wait our turn to climb but it gave us a chance to explore our options. There is a long class 3 or 4 (I heard it called both) approach to the summit that looked nasty. We opted as did everyone else that day for the shorter and easy 5.5ish climb to the top. On top we found about 7 or 8 others for a total of 10 at the top which I’d assume is one of the larger groups ever on top. Many took advantage of the perfect weather and route conditions and we were able to enjoy 45 minutes at the top enjoying the views of the 100s of nearby peaks. It feels very remote up there as none of the major cities are viewable.




The trip down also passed without any issues. We were a bit nervous to be heading out late in the day but the snow felt perfect. We camped at Martin Creek on the way down which was also a great camp area. Permits are required there but it was empty so we stopped and made camp anyways. I had a bit more time to enjoy the surroundings on the way out as I tried to trick myself into forgetting about the 18 miles of hiking that remained.




This was a great climb and easily my favorite so far.


44 miles, ~9k’, 11 hours driving and 6 hornet stings



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You don't need a real heavy rock set up - you can do it with a 37m glacier rope (incld. rap(s)) and a few nuts and tri cams. Very short pitch with only a couple fifth class moves from what I remember. That said, a 60m half rope would allow you to not have to do as much down climbing shenanigans (and climb on a real rope), though I don't remember my wife complaining too much, so it can't be THAT bad. Much, much better than the scramble route and actually pretty good/fun climbing on solid rock.


Such a classic outing, thanks for the TR!

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I didn't lead and I'm not sure exactly what my partner placed but there were only 3 pieces. There's a solid hex nut and a sling that were already there. We used a 60m glacier rope since we had 4-person team on the glacier anyways. We could have left some slings and gear behind but the rest of our pack was pretty light so it wasn't bad at all. My pack was 42lbs with food, water and camera gear.


Definitely an awesome climb!

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