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Mt. Olympus

July 2007: A Climb of Mt. Olympus

Into the Forest
Mt. Olympus is located deep in the center of the mountainous Olympic Peninsula in western Washington State. A 17 mile trek is required to get to the base of the mountain. The hike passes through a long stretch of incredible low-land temperate rain forest. The immense trees alert one's senses of scale and time - making us realize how small we all are.

Perhaps more striking is the realization that much of western Washington once looked like this. But most of it has been ripped-out in persuit of the green dollar. It can make you wonder just what it means to be rich... how can money compare to the face of such majesty?
Forest Fog
The Hoh River Valley was pummeled by powerful storms the previous autumn. A number of giant trees had been uprooted and broken in two. Luckily for us, the national park service prioritized maintenance of the Hoh River trail, allowing us a pretty tame walk along a well-tended footpath.
The trail to Mt. Olympus follows the Hoh River valley. For much of its length, this glacially-silted silver stream flows through numerous channels along a flood plain. But further upstream, it's hemmed-in by a steep canyon covered with lush green walls.
Mt. Olympus Dawn
We traveled about 9 miles the first day, then 8 the next to the end of the maintained trail. The next morning, we broke camp at 5am to begin the climb. A short trail leads to this view of the Blue Glacier streaming down from the heights of Mt. Olympus. The actual summit is difficult to discern in this photo - it is the right-most rocky bump on the far ridge.
Across Fields of Snow
Clouds and sun made beautiful patterns on the slopes of the snow dome as we climbed.
Ascending Olympus
Like a trail of ants on a sidewalk, we began our determined march up the slopes. All the way, we were happy to see only wisps of clouds obscuring the blue sky.
On the Snow Dome
After reaching the top of the snow dome, we continued up gentle slopes to about 7,200ft elevation on the upper Blue Glacier. The summit of Mt. Olympus is the smaller bit of rock to the right side of the ridge. Our route took us first to the left, around some large crevasses, then up the back side of the ridge.
This large break in the ice was not a place to linger. It was quite possible that other crevasses lie hidden under a thin sheet of snow. Unlike the person seen in this photo, we roped-up so that if one of us broke through or slipped, we'd have a life-line to safety.
Snow, Sky, Rock
Giant snowdrifts formed a beautiful sculpture around the Middle Peak of Mt. Olympus (not the summit), just to the left of our ascending route.
One Final Snow Slope
Although this final snow slope below the summit block of Mt. Olympus was steep, it was not technical/crevassed. That's why we could carry the rope "in hand" as seen here.
The Summit
One short pitch of somewhat challenging rock brought us to the summit of Mt. Olympus. Although the summit isn't objectively very high - at ~7,965ft - the mountain gets so much snow, and the approach starts at such a low elevation, that it poses many of the challenges of much higher mountains.
Just to the side of the Summit, we found a well-used location to anchor a rappel down from the summit - much easier than trying to down-climb our route of ascent.
They say you haven't really climbed a mountain until you're safely back at home. We kept our wits about us as we descended through the same crevasse fields we'd climbed through. The descent was certainly more fun - allowing a few quick and fun glissades (sliding down the snow)... But, the long trudge back to the trailhead was another matter.

Where is it?

Mt. Olympus is located in the heart of Olympic National Park. As it is surrounded by long forested valleys, and jagged snowy peaks, it is difficult to see from any vantage point along a road

Before you go...
Before planning a trip, be sure to negotiate the rules/regulations of the national park. The climbing route isn't really straightforward... If you haven't been to the top before, it can be really tricky to know just where to cross certain ridges and start the final rock pitch to the summit - be sure to do your homework before you go!

Comments Comments
New comments disabled due to spam - sorry
Jeff love
these pictures are amazing

i could just wet myself by looking at them =D

i really think im going to rape these pictures=]

oh yes tonight will be amazing

Wed Oct 10 10:50:57 2007

Patricia Hoyt
I love the Hoh picture! It's beautiful!
Tue Aug 28 12:53:54 2007

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