In the summer of 2003, a group of old Way Too High Alpine Society climbers got together for a climb. Rod Sly flew up from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chuck Gullick flew up from Sarasota, Florida, and Wayne "Wayneco" Waldroup appeared out of nowhere. Rounding out the team of eight were Brad Canady, Glenn Cirlincione, Pat Ellis, Bruce Kolpack, and Terry Mataya.
The goal was Mt. Olympus - chosen for a couple reasons. First, none of us had climbed it. The fact that it was such a long approach kept it on the bottom of the list for many of us. Only Terry and Wayne had even attempted it. Terry made it to the high camp before getting chased by weather. Secondly, it had all the makings of a great climb with the glacier travel and moderate rock climbing that fit the style of most of us, and the mystique of the Hoh Rain Forest. The only problem was that damned 17 mile approach - that's where the llamas came in.
We contracted with Kit's Llamas to haul 400 pounds of food and gear for our team over the course of five days. That turned out to be the coup d'etat of the whole trip. Kit herself tended the eight llamas, and she turned out to be a fascinating woman. The lightened loads made the long approach enjoyable and we were able to eat (and drink) like kings.
We planned five days. On the first day we would hike 11 flat miles to Lewis Meadows Camp. The second day we would hike 6 miles and 3000' vertical to Glacier Meadows. The third day would be summit day (3800' vertical), camping again at Glacier Meadows. On the fourth day we would hike back to Lewis Meadows, and on the the fifth day we would hike out and drive home.
The following account of the climb is from the journal of Glenn Cirlincione.
Day 0 - Tuesday, July 29th
The start of this adventure was Bruce’s home for the majority of the crew. Even though some of the team were still shopping for food and gear as late as 3pm, we actually get the vehicles loaded and on the road by 5pm. Terry and Pat carpool together and plan to meet us in Forks that evening. There were some traffic delays including a flaming Camaro that set the parched land on fire. It was interesting to watch the Camaro’s owner cleaning out the remains of the contents of the trunk with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth!
Once through Aberdeen and Hoquiam, the traffic was non-existent and Dodge driven by Wayne with passengers Bruce and Glenn picked up the pace in cool, air-conditioned comfort. Meanwhile, the K5 Blazer with Brad, Charlie and Rodney followed through the many bends, open windows providing the cooling on this WARM summer day. When we were within 30 minutes of Forks, we did have a stretch of road that ran a few miles directly along side the Pacific Ocean. Although it might have appeared to have been an opportunity to stop and sightsee, we’d been on the road for about four hours, so no stopping was allowed! We finally arrived just after nine in Forks to check into the hotel and find a place to eat before the town closed for the night.
Day 1 - Wednesday, July 30th
The plan was to meet for breakfast at 6am allowing enough time to meet Kit and her llamas at 8am. Some of the team got up at 5am and after showers decided that since they were ready, they’d go early to eat. Slowly the rest of the team appeared for breakfast, with the laggards finally showing up at 6:45am.
We arrived at the public corral about 8:15am where we were to meet Kit and load the llamas. The sorting and loading process took some time. Although we were safely under the agreed weight limit of 400 lbs, there was a matter of volume capacity. That proved slightly more challenging. There was also the job of registering for the climb and camp locations. Ranger Jason? arrived and Bruce went off to take care of that detail.
We finally got the llamas packed and by 10am we were on the Hoh River Trail for the first 11 miles of our adventure.
Mt. Olympus - 7985
The monarch of the Olympics is located between the Hoh and Queets Rivers. It was named by John Mares in 1788 for the home of the Greek gods. The West Peak is the highest, with the 7930-ft Middle Peak closely rivaling it. The East Peak is slightly lower. First ascent in 1907.
From Snow Dome, proceed through a 7200-ft snow pass S 20 degrees E. Turn right and climb WSW to the top of the false summit. Drop to the saddle between the false summit and the West Peak and climb steep snow to the NE side of the rock summit; from here, the top is reached after a short steep rock climb.
Around 2pm, we arrived at the Olympus Ranger Station, located at 10.1 miles from the parking lot. Ranger Melissa was stationed at this site for her 14 day stint and doing paperwork when we arrived. This was also the place to fill up with water as there was a stream behind the ranger building. The day’s three water jockey’s filled up the dromedaries (5 and 10 liter water bags) knowing they would be carrying them the last mile to our first camp.
Day 2 - Thursday, July 31st
Day two finds us hiking the final two flat miles through the rain forest before we start gaining the approximate 3000 feet needed to attain based camp at Glacier Meadows. We find one advantage the llama’s have over horses, mules and burros. Only llamas can travel past Martin’s stock camp at 13.8 miles, meaning that we do not have to carry heavy loads the final three miles and 1000 ft elevation to base camp. The llamas are sure-footed and trail friendly so they are allowed on the higher, narrow trails. However, there is one part of the trail that is precarious to say the least. Although Kit has brought the llamas through this area for the forest service in the past, she is not doing it this trip. So we have to ferry our 400 lbs of gear the final six tenths of a mile to Glacier Meadows. By the time camp is set up and sufficient water is filtered, it’s time for hors ‘douves and dinner! We review some of the route descriptions and do final preparations for the early morning start. By 8:30pm, most of us are in the tent trying to get some sleep.
Day 3 - Friday, August 1st
Wayneco was randomly selected to be stoveman on summit day. That means he would be the first one up. And up he was to the task! Shortly after the 12:30am alarm, he was up, out of the tent and firing up the stove.
02:00am - We start hiking up the trail that will take us to the Blue Glacier. Within ten minutes we see the RED planet brilliantly reflecting light to earth. It appears we just follow the path to Mars.
03:30am - The path appears to end. But since we are here, everyone turns out their headlights and we spend about five minutes observing the night sky. The Big Dipper is horizontal from where we stand. The Milky Way is just above. The show is wonderful but we need to move on. We spend about five minutes looking for a way DOWN to the Blue Glacier. Finally, we have consensus on a path down and within 15 minutes we are on the Blue Glacier. Time to put on the harnesses and rope up.
05:00am - We are almost across the glacier. Due to the warm summer, the consistency of the glacier is soft and in some places, running water has made it very slushy. However, we do find about four places where there is solid ice for a short way and it is slippery enough that two of the team slip and fall.
06:00am - We are at 6000 feet climbing up Snow Dome.
06:30am - We are at 6300 feet climbing up Snow Dome.
10:30am - We have hiked over the notch of Middle Peak and into a basin between Middle and the West peak. We climb up steep snow until we attain access to the summit rock. We climb up some Class 3 rock, then we find the final hurtle separating us from our goal, 60 feet of Class 5.4 rock. Terry and Rod take charge and blaze the path, setting the rope for the rest of the team.
11:00am - Terry attains the summit and mans the top while Rod manages the bottom, performing safety checks before allowing the climber to climb. Wayne goes next. Towards the top the wind blows making his jacket look like Superman’s cape. Charlie, then Brad, Glenn, Pat, Bruce and finally Rod successfully make the final ascent.
Views from the summit were grand. Looking NE we saw Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, and SE we saw Mt. Rainier, and W is the Pacific Ocean. It appeared to me that the angles and distances of Mts. Baker, Rainier and Olympus basically form an equilateral triangle.
1:30pm - We are back across from the summit just below the Middle Peak, making cell phone calls to family, eating lunch and just having a great time!
6:30pm - We arrive back at Glacier Meadows. It has been a long day. Now it’s time to party!
Pat and JIM BEAM performed too!!
Day 4 - Saturday, August 2nd
The plan for today we to break camp, ferry loads to the pickup point, and hike back to our first camp. Everyone looked surprising well considering the empties.
Even with very light packs, we realize we still have 10 miles to go on this final day. However, in those miles is a wonderful land, full of enormous trees, most standing though some of the fallen ones provide an up close look at a 200 foot tall tree. One tree has fallen due to insect life eating the base of the tree. Other than a hollow lower 8-10 feet, this tree looks normal. Makes one wonder as they are hiking out, how many other trees are precariously standing with hollow bases. The final few miles were tough on the feet. As we encounter more and more folks hiking on the trails, there is a sad moment knowing one is leaving the beauty and solitude of this area ... for "civilization" (read: war, murder, etc.) and wondering ... can I stay here?
The Olympus 2003 Video
The Olympus 2003 Video, previously distributed on DVD, can be downloaded here. The format is DivX AVI. In order to play it, you will need Windows Media Player, or another player with the DivX codec. You can download the DivX codec at http://www.divxmovies.com/software/. It worked great for me.
The file size is 663 Meg. It would be best to right-click and "Save Target As ...", then view it off line.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
Appendix A - Equipment
|Lllama Packs||# sacks||sack wt.||Total|
|Personal Gear - 10 lb. sacks||9||10||90|
|Personal Gear - 15 lb. sacks||9||15||135||225||lbs. total personal gear|
|Group gear - 10 lb. sacks||7||10||70|
|Group gear - 15 lb. sacks||7||15||105||175||lbs. total group gear|
|Starship 3-man tent body||Kolpack||4.5|
|Starship tent poles||Kolpack||2.0|
|Starship 3-man tent body||Canady||4.5|
|Starship tent poles||Canady||2.0|
|Starship 3-man tent body||Gullick||4.5|
|Starship tent poles||Gullick||2.0|
|9 mm rope||Sly||6.3|
|8.5 mm rope||Burleigh||6.0|
|Rock rack & rope||Mataya||12.5|
|Stove w/full fuel bottle||Sly||3.8|
|Stove w/full fuel bottle||Sly||3.8|
|Stove w/full fuel bottle||Mataya||3.8|
|Extra Fuel - 1 gal.||Kolpack||7.0|
|Wine - 4x3 liters in boxes||Kolpack||29.0|
|Jim Beam - 4 fifths||Kolpack||7.5|
|Food - Wednesday Dinner||Ellis||9.0|
|Food - Thursday Dinner||Canady||11.0|
|Food - Friday Dinner||Kolpack||10.8|
|Food - Saturday Dinner||Ellis||11.0|
|Cocoa & coffee||Mataya||13.0|
|First Aid Kit||Ellis||1.5|
Appendix B - Duty Roster
|Water Jockey 1||Waldroup||Kolpack||Canady||Gullick||Sly|
|Water Jockey 2||Kolpack||Waldroup||Gullick||Sly||Cirlincione|
|Water Jockey 3||Cirlincione||Mataya||Sly||Cirlincione||Gullick|
|Dish Butt 1||Canady||Sly||Mataya||Kolpack||—|
|Dish Butt 2||Gullick||Cirlincione||Ellis||Waldroup||—|