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| | |-+  July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
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Author Topic: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski  (Read 4001 times)
Gary_H
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July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« on: 07/14/10, 10:48 PM »

It is very fortunate when the weather, mountain conditions and group chemistry all come together at the same time; this trip to Mt Olympus was one of those memorable times.
 
Several months ago, Jan's brother Jeff invited us to join him, his coworker Taresa and her fiancé, John to climb Olympus. John and Taresa are experienced backpackers, but had never made an alpine climb. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity. We discussed timing and arbitrarily chose the week of July 5. Some weeks later I mentioned our plans to our friend Tom. He has been a regular partner on many of our trips into the Olympics over the years. Two summers ago he fell while working at his new house and suffered a basal skull fracture. The injury caused a permanent and total loss of hearing in his right ear and significantly affected his balance. He has made a remarkable recovery and was excited to join the group. A few days later he called and asked if his neighbor, Marcos could join the group. Marcos, originally from Argentina, is a retired Physicist and experienced rock climber. Although we had never met him, Tom assured us he would be a great addition to the trip. The group was now complete. Since we were headed to a mountain that would be covered with snow, I could not resist the urge to pack my skis along.
 
On the morning of July 5th, we headed west under cloudy, drizzly conditions. As we turned off 101 and headed up the Hoh River road, the overcast started to break up and the occasional glimpse of blue sky teased us onward. A couple miles before the Visitor’s Center, two cow elk crossed the road with their recently born calves. It was special to see these little guys.

Although the first 12 miles of trail is relatively flat and straight, it is far from boring. The rain forest is an amazing place. There is something interesting to hold one’s interest in all directions, including the forest canopy overhead. We had been hiking about an hour when a herd of about 25 elk crossed the trail in front of us. They did not seem to be too bothered by our presence. We enjoyed watching them for some time. Lewis Meadows was our camp for the first night. The sky cleared and gave us our first views of the high country, the Bailey Range towered above us to the north. We laughed and joked well into the evening, enjoying each others company.

Early on Tuesday we crossed the High Hoh Bridge and began the steady climb to Elk Lake and eventually Glacier Meadows. We passed several parties headed out; most groups had encountered poor weather over the weekend and were not able to get onto the upper mountain. One party of two, joined by the ONP climbing ranger had climbed West Peak on Monday. The rangers have installed a rope ladder and a fixed line in the last avalanche gully before Glacier Meadows. This makes passage through this section safe and quick. We arrived at Glacier Meadows to find it deserted except for the two rangers on staff. Sam, the climbing ranger, provided some good information regarding conditions on the mountain. We were able to find bare ground for our tents, despite the considerable snow persisting in the campground. Early in the evening, a party of 4 arrived at the campground. Two from this group were planning to climb the following day also.

We left camp at 3:30 am Wednesday morning under a clear sky and temps in the mid 40’s. We  traveled  mostly over snow to the lateral moraine, the descent to the  Blue Glacier was on mixed rock and snow. We elected to rope up to cross the glacier, crampons were not needed on the soft snow surface. Snow coverage was excellent for this time of year, only a few small cracks starting to open. After crossing the  glacier, we climbed the steep, direct route to Snow Dome. The snow on this north facing slope was much firmer, but still easy to kick steps into. John and Taresa did great through this section. Tom and Marcos kept us entertained with their constant banter.

We reached the top of Snow Dome and evaluated our options. We had hoped to follow the direct “Fourth of July Route” to the base of the West Peak summit block. Unfortunately, the bergschrund was open and given the mixed skills in our group, we decided the more conservative route through Glacier Pass was the best choice. Since the route from this point was mostly a low angle traverse on more sun-exposed aspects, I decided to leave my skis on top of Snow Dome.

At Glacier Pass we met the other two climbers. They had successfully reached the summit. They indicated the scramble up the summit block was easy climbing, but that it was quite windy on top. We wished each other well and headed off in our respective directions. We continued on to the False Summit under warming temperatures, increasing winds and softening snow. At the False Summit, we discussed our options. The three members of the group who had not summited Olympus were quite happy with reaching this point and did not want to make the final climb to the true summit. The rest of us who had previously summited Olympus were not compelled to continue on. We enjoyed they great views that surrounded us in all directions. We could see Mt. Baker to the north and Mt Rainier to the South. In between were all of the peaks and valleys of the Olympics. The contrasting greens and whites painted a vivid picture in strong relief.

The descent to Crystal Pass was quick in the soft snow. We regrouped there and headed across the flat top of Snow Dome to where I had left my skis. The only major open crevasse was just below Glacier Pass, but safely above the climber’s route. The group glissaded down the first pitch while I transitioned. As I skied over the roll over, I found surprisingly good snow conditions, creamy corn snow on a supportive base; the surface was free of sun cups or runnels, great turns down to the rest of the group. We yelped and laughed our way down the 2,000 vertical feet to the lower glacier on the 30 to 40 degree slopes. After a quick traverse across the glacier to the base of the lateral moraine, we made the steep climb up it’s flank then descended back to camp for a well deserved rest.

We departed early the next day to get a jump on the quickly warming temps. By the time we got to the Olympus Ranger Station, things began to heat up. As the miles went on, we became more determined to complete the hike out. We encouraged each other along as we became more tired and the heat drained our energy. The paved trail that marked the last few hundred yards to the parking lot was a welcome site!

We made the traditional stop in Forks for a burger at Sulley’s and then were back on the road to Port Angeles for a warm shower and a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few pictures from the trip and a link to some more,

Gary and Jan

Picture 1: The Hoh Rain Forest
Picture 2: Sunrise on Olympus
Picture 3: Skiing on Snow Dome

Additional Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/GaryJanH/2010070508MtOlympusClimbSki#


* Hoh_Rain_Forest.jpg (133.59 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1243 times.)

* Sunrise_on_Olympus.jpg (49.17 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1269 times.)

* Gary_skiing_Snowdome.jpg (76.37 KB, 800x531 - viewed 1241 times.)
« Last Edit: 07/15/10, 09:04 PM by GaryJan » Logged

There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
telemack
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #1 on: 07/15/10, 10:33 AM »

Nice one---you hit the very start of the hot clear weather.  Did you know that all those months ago?    Wink
Your vertical Joy-O-Meter was OK, but I shudder to calculate the ratio of v.f. divided by h.f.!
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana
Gary_H
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #2 on: 07/15/10, 09:17 PM »

Nice one---you hit the very start of the hot clear weather.  Did you know that all those months ago?    Wink
Your vertical Joy-O-Meter was OK, but I shudder to calculate the ratio of v.f. divided by h.f.!

Thanks Mack,
If our crystal ball was that good, we'd be buying lottery tickets instead of planning our mountain travels.  Grin Chalk it up to pure luck.  Cheesy
Regarding the v.f to h.f. ratio, Jan has a quote, "That's way too much information!!"

From your recent posts, it looks like you have been making up for lost time. Good to see you are healing and back out enjoying the mountains.

Gary
« Last Edit: 07/15/10, 10:13 PM by GaryJan » Logged

There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
telemack
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #3 on: 07/16/10, 12:08 AM »

 Cheesy
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana
Snow Bell
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Posts: 532


Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #4 on: 07/16/10, 03:16 PM »

Looks like a great trip G&J!

I have not yet exhausted some of the closer in options as to be compelled to do that one quite yet.   Wink 
And Gary, bringing skis for yourself and none for your lovely bride?  Chivalry is dead.

I can't believe that you guys were willing to pose for the last group shot upon your return before dumping the packs.  I can only assume that I would have been dragging mine once in sight of the paved trail.
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
runcle
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #5 on: 07/16/10, 09:21 PM »

Congratulations on a successful trip! That is quite a haul with skis!
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Gary_H
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #6 on: 07/16/10, 11:04 PM »

Looks like a great trip G&J!
And Gary, bringing skis for yourself and none for your lovely bride?  Chivalry is dead.

Joe,
Yes, we did have a great time, good company made the miles go by quickly, both on the trip in and on the way out.  Smiley

Regarding my capabilities as a Sherpa, I had enough trouble sleeping last night after reading Telemack's Knapsack Pass TR, now this, I am not sure how I will ever overcome the feelings of guilt.  Embarrassed

I can't believe that you guys were willing to pose for the last group shot upon your return before dumping the packs.  I can only assume that I would have been dragging mine once in sight of the paved trail.

It's amazing what the promise of adult beverages can convince even the most weary traveler to agree to do!   Wink


Congratulations on a successful trip! That is quite a haul with skis!

Hey Don,
It was a labor of love.  Smiley

Gary
« Last Edit: 07/17/10, 10:59 PM by GaryJan » Logged

There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
ovrthhills
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #7 on: 07/19/10, 10:42 AM »

Great trip and report, Gary. Rare ski tracks on that mountain.
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davidG
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Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #8 on: 07/19/10, 11:03 AM »

Gary, years ago, some friends and I would regularily hike/climb the Brothers Peak (which marks the SE corner of the Park).  I recall seeing terrain on N and NE aspects that would seem to hold good lines. Have you (or any other locals) skiied the vicinity, and in general what is the potential for touring/turns in the ONP besides Olympus proper (long slog) and the north end? 
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"Maybe we should ban hikers from anywhere that there is a potential threat to surface water?"   [courtesy Newtrout, 2011]

"Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you."  [courtesy mikerolfs, 2014]
Gary_H
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Posts: 320


Re: July 5 -8, ONP, Mt Olympus Climb & Ski
« Reply #9 on: 07/19/10, 09:58 PM »

Great trip and report, Gary. Rare ski tracks on that mountain.

Thanks Michael,
There is a lot of opportunities on that mountain.  Cheesy

Gary, years ago, some friends and I would regularily hike/climb the Brothers Peak (which marks the SE corner of the Park).  I recall seeing terrain on N and NE aspects that would seem to hold good lines. Have you (or any other locals) skiied the vicinity, and in general what is the potential for touring/turns in the ONP besides Olympus proper (long slog) and the north end? 

IMHO,
There are unlimited opportunities in ONP, unfortunately, most require a "long slog" to access. With only a few roads penetrating a limited distance into the Park, most of the high country (other than that accessible from Hurricane Ridge) requires hiking and/or skinning to access. I know of individuals who have skied the north side of Mt. Christie (via the N Fork of the Quinault), Queets Basin, the Humes Glacier, and Mt Queets in years past. All of these are tougher approaches than Olympus.
 
There are documented reports of ski traverses of the Bailey Range and the Mt. Cameron area, also multi-day trips. Royal Basin and Deception Basin hold numerous challenging ski lines.

The SE Olympics also have some great terrain, some accessible in a day, others better done as multi-day trips.

As Telemack said in his Rainier post, "So remember:  you don't have to be VERY good at something to find fulfillment, you just have to be PRETTY good for a long time and you'll get up and down some amazing places!"

I hope to see many more amazing places in the Olympics before my time comes.

Gary
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There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
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