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Author Topic: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir  (Read 5769 times)
danhelmstadter
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7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« on: 07/26/08, 01:42 PM »

I started around 8:30 Thursday evening from the Hoh Rainforest parking area. The green hills were glowing with a comfortable late day hue. The trail scenery was surreal, massive trees - some 10+ feet in diameter; covered in hanging moss dominated the view. Giant Maple trees, green meadows, the majestic blue Hoh river, all faded magically with the light, and night came slowly with an equally exotic feel. I passed several camping/climbing parties, but by around 11pm the trail was all mine, so nice to have a trail, like a guiding friend, twenty hours later it would feel like a cruel torturer, teasing me with unfairly long miles.
Trail time passed, and I began to expect the faint dawn light. I passed many campsites, catching a wiff of sweet-woodsmoke from the still smoldering firepits carelessly left un-extinguished. I was half expecting to see a Elk, or Bear - since I had heard so many stories of abundant wildlife in the area. I saw nothing except a brown furry thing about the size of a big rabbit, in my headlamp light, running, and not slowing down - I hoped over it - wonder what would happen if I let it run into me?
After about 18.5 miles, I reached Glacier Meadows, from there it was only another 2 miles to Blue Glacier. Gaining the still dark reaches of the Glacier, I met a climbing party, who had departed from their highcamp, real nice folks.
Dawn broke as I crossed the glacier to gain the NE flanks of the standard climbing route. The snow was corn, with a half inch freeze crust - very easy for ascending. Mount Olympus is 7985' but it is still a very big mountain, being so close to sea, and near sea level terrain. I gained the high mountain plateau that leads from snow dome to the upper mountain. The upper mountain glaciers looked broken, and not too much more of an elevation gain. The standard route traversed around out of view below the false summit. I did not come all this way to ski some weak traversy route, I would find a way on the North Face, this would prove very time consuming. I checked out numerous possibilities to pass the bergshrunds and crevasses, I climbed down into several, speculated, and finally traversed over to the steeper climbers right glacier slope. With a little funky shrund climb, I got onto it, disappointed at finding ice just under the softening corn surface. I climbed up and down, scouting for a skiable line, and kept working my way climbers right, and found what I was looking for, snow. I ascended to the snow highpoint, which was a subsummit, perhaps a 50 to 100 feet below the rocky summit pinnacle.
The first turns were beautiful, the upper North Face was little icy (crust ice), but with no suncups the turns were quite enjoyable, I descended to near the bottom of the 50dg slope, then switched to crampons and down climbed to scout for ice on for the last couple turns, no ice, shcweet, climbed back up, switched back to skis, skied down, switched to crampons, crossed the funky bergshrund, and ascended to the highpoint of the climbers left slope, then skied all the way down to the snow dome summit. The high plateau was the most runnelled and suncupped section of the descent. I entered the 50dg roll of the North Couloir tentatively, slightly suncupped and hard, but soon I opened up and ripped the mid and lower portions. There was a bit of hard dirt to downclimb at the bottom to gain the terminus of the Blue Glacier. I hiked back up to the moraine where I had stashed my sneaks, and began the long descent. I did ski perhaps 400v on the other side of the moraine towards the Glacier Meadows. Not thinking, I stuffed all my wet alpine wear into my pack with out letting it dry, this weighed me down several pounds, making my pack heavier than it was on the ascent.
I jogged the first 7 miles, then started hiking when the trail flattened back out on the Hoh river at 500 feet above sea level elevation. The next 12 miles were difficult, becoming progressively so, this was perhaps mostly a psycological effect - if the trail had been another 10 or 20 miles, would I have collapsed unable to continue? possibly, but not likely. Next time I do 45 miles in a day, I will wear not where my super light river shoes, but shoes with cushioned insoles, that will be nice. Finally getting back to my rig about 21 hours after I started was a good feeling, a pbr and some ramen noodles later I was ready to sleep. Although the hour or two that I was hangin before sleep, I nodded off unconsciously into various immediate dreams, then snapped out of it several seconds later, several times dreaming about things I have not thought of in months or more, strange how the subconscious imagination becomes so active with sleep deprivation and extended exertion.










* blue_asacent_red_descent.jpg (108.52 KB, 922x692 - viewed 1694 times.)

* sticks.jpg (95.27 KB, 922x692 - viewed 1652 times.)

* north_face_west_summit.jpg (75.18 KB, 922x692 - viewed 1648 times.)
« Last Edit: 08/27/08, 08:28 PM by danhelmstadter » Logged
danhelmstadter
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #1 on: 07/26/08, 01:52 PM »

... No disrespect to Charles, or the ordinances of this web-site, but judging by many recent trs, it looks like the 3-picture law has been removed, good. Anyway, if the law remains, let me know and I will unpost these pictures, thanks...


* alpenglow_over_the__eastern_and_central__Olympus_highpoints.jpg (100.26 KB, 922x692 - viewed 1678 times.)

* dude_on_summit_pinacle.jpg (95.51 KB, 922x692 - viewed 1635 times.)

* lower_north_couloir_my_tracks_may_be_visible.jpg (80.75 KB, 507x676 - viewed 1639 times.)
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Stugie
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #2 on: 07/26/08, 01:52 PM »

Wow, excellent read and great pictures and really nice work Dan!  What elevation were you able to ski down to?  That's sounds like a sweet trip.  I'd be interested to see any pics you might have of the Hoh or the trail in - I've never been but always wanted to go.
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
danhelmstadter
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #3 on: 07/26/08, 02:09 PM »

Thanks Stugie, I was able to ski down to about 4400, perhaps a little lower including the sking on the nw side of the moraine.

I unfortunalty did not take any pictures of the rainforest, partly because I was in such a hurry, and partly cause the bueaty of the rainforest cannot be expressed accuratly by pictures, this can be said about most things, but the rainforest to me is an experience, also doing it again with a partner might be a good time to take pics, so a sense of scale with a person in view would put the trees and stuff in perspective.
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Kyle Miller
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #4 on: 07/26/08, 03:43 PM »

Nice job I was wondering if Mt Olympus is still Skiable,
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
skykilo
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #5 on: 07/26/08, 03:44 PM »

YEAH
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jeff_s
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #6 on: 07/26/08, 07:56 PM »

Dude, have you ever heard of sleep?? I know that time constraints of the modern world sometimes keep us from  doing what would be best for us, but for next time I highly recommend spending a night sleeping on the gravel bar in the middle of the Hoh with the sound of that rushing water burrowing into your brain all night long---it works wonders for the soul. And there's no better way to wake up than jumping into that 45-degree glacier milk water. Old timers there used to tell me that the microscopic rock crystals that got stuck in your pores were the secret to their good health.

Very inspiring TR; thanks. The Hoh valley is my favorite place in the world.

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jd
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #7 on: 07/27/08, 07:15 AM »

Wow. That would be burly without carrying the skis! Nice write up and great photos - remember you can post them someplace else and put more thumbnails here to get around the 3 picture rule.
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telemack
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #8 on: 07/27/08, 10:35 AM »

Good job, D---long haul, but I've thought if I ever do it I may as well carry skis so I can get it all in 1 trip.   Roll Eyes

Sleep scientists have found that the more sleep-deprived a person is, the faster they enter REM/dream sleep, even skipping earlier stages.  Dreaming is explained by several theories, but they all agree that dreams serve some psychological purpose. 
I'm surprised by how INFREQUENTLY climbing and skiing appear in my dreams..... Huh
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Dale Crockatt
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #9 on: 07/27/08, 11:02 AM »

Dan, it seems like I am more amazed every TR!  Your descents are awesome, but now adding incredible approaches.  I was telling your story that the morning of the 25th (did you feel your ears burning?) as I tried to explain why people ski these routes, as I discovered tracks high above on Eliot Headwall.  Of course I couldn't wait to get to TAY to read your story, but it wasn't there.   But then there was this story, and my fix was satisfied- until next time...

Keep on truckin'!
« Last Edit: 07/27/08, 04:53 PM by Dale Crockatt » Logged

Happy trails!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
skimtner
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #10 on: 07/27/08, 04:47 PM »

 Powder, corn DAN - if you ever come by way of the Sierra's there are some 60 degree chutes located out of Bishop. As for me I squeaked some turns out on a lower snowfield of Lassen with a meager 30 - 35 degrees, Rob  (May is ideal for the Sierra), by-the-way w/winter snow in those chutes.
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Jason_H.
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #11 on: 07/27/08, 06:31 PM »

One of my big goals was to get up in there this year, but I didn't, so this TR finds me with a smile on my face, and a promise to get up in there next year.

Jeff, one of my wildest animal encounters was right there on the Ho. Middle of the night and bugling elk. You'd have thought it were one or two, only to realize the dozens of feet tromping across the river added up to more than a a couple, surely. And to find yourself in the midst of it all, to the left and right...everywhere, elk bugling and tromping, 20-ft, 100-ft away! Scary and wild at the same time.

That place certainly burrowed into my mind that night Smiley

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ron j
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #12 on: 07/27/08, 07:40 PM »

... The next 12 miles were difficult, becoming progressively so, this was perhaps mostly a psycological effect - if the trail had been another 10 or 20 miles, would I have collapsed unable to continue?

That's a pretty good description of how I felt hiking out on the Hoh when I did that trip.  I did it almost as fast as you -- it only took me THREE DAYS!!! Roll Eyes

Impressive trip, Dan.   I'm beginning to understand why they call you Super Dan  Wink
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
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"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Snow Bell
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #13 on: 07/27/08, 11:17 PM »

Thanks Dan.  I was beginning to worry that I was going to have to go and do that one myself.
Wink
Keep up the good work.
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Joedabaker
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #14 on: 07/28/08, 12:09 PM »

Nice report Dan, I love the classic shot of your skis and the slope in every report-it is signature.
Man I gotta get some rest just reading that report, keep knocking those big ones off!
You're on tough dude.
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Salal
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Re: 7/25/08, Mt. Olympus, North Face to North Couloir
« Reply #15 on: 07/29/08, 10:53 PM »

 Excellent..the snow looks nice in those photos
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