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[TR] Mount Olympus - Blue Glacier, North Ridge 8/2/2015

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Trip: Mount Olympus - Blue Glacier, North Ridge


Date: 8/2/2015


Trip Report:

The plan was a combined climbing and backpacking trip, with 5 people interested in climbing and 2 interested in just backpacking. From what we heard from the Ranger station, many parties are turning around without summiting, for various reasons. Based on these reports, two of the climbers decided sleeping in and a mellow hike up to the moraine for a view of the Blue Glacier was preferred.


Wes, Eric and I decided to try our luck at the summit. We started from Elk Lake at 3 am and started across the Blue Glacier around 5 am. Crossing the lower Blue Glacier was easier than it looked from the lateral moraine. Although the glacier looked fractured, it was mostly hummocky with the occasional fracture and was pretty easy to cross. It was fascinating to cross an icy glacier with rushing water and deep blue pools of water.


The slope up to Snow Dome was free of snow and was a class 2 and 3 slabby scramble with a couple streams that were great for replenishing water. Getting up the flanks of Snow Dome requires a couple hundred feet of steep (40 degrees) snow and some short (10 feet) sections of glacier ice. The ice was a little sketchy with soft boots and aluminum crampons but went easily. We crossed Snow Dome and went above the open bergschrund to access Crystal Pass.


Climbing up the Blue Glacier towards the false summit involved weaving around a few crevasses but the snow bridges were broad and comfortable. We scrambled the loose rock to the base of the summit rock, ate lunch, and climbed the short section of steep snow to the base of the North Ridge.


There were no moat issues and the 5.4 rock climb up the North Ridge was enjoyable, although our 60 m twin rope folded in half didn't quite reach the upper belay station. In retrospect, we should have simul-climbed for about 20 ft before setting up the belay. Instead, we set up a makeshift belay station on the bench below the real belay station and everyone scrambled to the summit from there.


After checking out the smoke to the south and the views to the north we headed down the route we climbed. With rope stretch, we were able to reach the base of the summit rock in one rappel. The rest of the down climb was generally pleasant and easy, with the exception of the short icy sections getting off Snow Dome. As the snow melts off the flank of snow dome and these ice sections get longer, I would want to be equipped with stiffer boots, steel crampons, and perhaps an ice tool.



Edited by scottk

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Thanks for doing the trip report that I was too busy to do. We and another group made the summit the day before you, and saw that a team had been to the summit the day before. Since we'd heard the same info as you from the rangers, I stopped in to let them know that it was quite doable, but the person we talked to was quite uninterested, which annoyed me. I let him know that we and others had called and couldn't get any climbing conditions information (one team cancelled due to that lack of info), so that I thought that they would actually appreciate the info. He showed slightly more interest, after that, to coddle me, I'm sure. . .


One thing that I'll add is that many water sources had dried up, specifically the one at Lewis Meadows Campground, so that the only source was the silty Hoh River, which was fine if the water filter used is a Sawyer which is easily back-flusable, but sucks if all you have is a steripen or another type of filter. The water source at the Olympus Ranger Station/Campground is right behind the Ranger Station.

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