Mt. Olympus
Olympic National Park
July 2-6, 2017

(All photos link to full resolution versions.)

Mt. Olympus (7,979 feet) is the highest peak in the Olympic Range!
This mountain is very remote and can generally only be seen from other peaks in the Olympics.
The summit is about 7,500 feet above, and 22 miles from, the trailhead.

We took two days to get to the base of the mountain, one day to summit, and two days to hike back out.

Day 1

Here is a sign at the trailhead.
We would camp at Olympus Guard Station on night one, and Glacier Meadows on night two.

Paul, Kevin, and myself

A few photos from the trail.

We found the river bank of the Hoh, near the Olympus Guard Station, to be a fairly hospitable campsite.

After a round of surprise beers, we settled into our sleeping bags around sunset.

Day 2

The second day started out down in the Hoh valley, deep in ancient forest.

After a few miles, the trail began to climb steeply.

We passed by Elk Lake on the way up.
It was tempting to swim there, but we didn't really want to lose momentum on our upward journey.

This steep and washed out section of the trail is made more accesible with a cable and timber ladder, and/or a rope.

Just before arriving at the Glacier Meadows campground, we were treated to this fantastic view up the White Glacier valley.

Day 3

We left camp at about 4 am.


The video player is not working.

The sky was beginning to get light as we ascended the lateral moraine and approached the Blue Glacier.

The trail along the top of the moraine was narrow and spectacular.
We met a goat on top of the moraine that morning. He liked it there, and didn't really want to share the trail.

The panorama photos above and below were taken from the end of the moraine.
From here we would drop down to the Blue Glacier and crosss over to the other side, toward the left side of those rocky cliffs.
From there, we would climb up to Snow Dome.

The dawn arrives!

The ~200 foot drop down to the glacier was steep and a little sketchy.

We saw the sun creeping toward us as we descended to the glacier.

At the base of the moraine, we switched over to glacier-crossing gear.

Kevin getting his crampons attached while I set up the rope.

Off we go.

Paul looks back toward his team, and the moraine.

Crossing the Blue Glacier.

The glacier was in great shape at this location. There were a few crevasses that we were able to avoid easily.

After crossing the Blue Glacier, we began to ascend the snow and rock toward SNow Dome.
This is the steepest part of the route (except for the summit block).

At this point, Paul was not feeling great.
Paul's water bladder in his pack was leaking, and he tweaked his back pulling his pack on after a break.
He decided to bow out at this point and waited for us in these rocks for about 6 hours.

Kevin and I thanked him and made sure he was set up for the afternoon before we set off.

Ascending toward snow dome

Photos (above and below) from Paul watching Kevin and I climb the steep and sinuous path toward Snow Dome.

Up and up!

Snow Dome!

The video player is not working.

A spectacular panorama from up on Snow Dome.
That's the summit over on the right!

The direct route to the summit (above) is blocked by crevassed ice and steep rock.
We wound through a little pass to the left of the photo and approached the summit from the other side of the mountain.

This was the only shade on the whole route, where we crossed through the little pass through the crags and over to the west side of the mountain.
The shade was temporary. We didn't get to enjoy it on the way back.

There were several crevasses on Snow Dome.
This one was a little spooky, as we had to cross over this point where two sympathetic crevasses had not quite finished joining together.
It wasn't a bridge. It was an ice wall, with no railings, and a deep blue abyss on either side.

(Below) The Summit Block, at last!
That snow and ice is steep! We ascended it and climbed up to the highest point of snow, where it (almost) touched the rock.

A view from the base of the summit block (below), looking back toward Snow Dome, the Blue Glacier, and the moraine.

We switched our gear from the glacier setup to the rock setup.
I lead this one, and made my way up the rock to the top. I secured the rope to the summit, and Kevin followed me up.
(Well, it didn't go quite that smoothly, but that's a story for another day.)


The view was amazing, of course.
I didn't get a bunch of huge summit panorama shots. I'm not sure why... I think we were just in the moment.
This one (above - facing west) will have to do.

We descended the summit block with three short rappels.

..and then began the long trudge back down.

Checking out that big view on the way down Snow Dome!

Paul got these two photos (above and below) of us after we made it back through the little pass and onto the main part of Snow Dome.

Here we are, almost back down to where Paul has been waiting for us.

Paul was ready to go by the time we arrived.
While he was waiting, he had found some old fabric and metal bits (old camp or science station of some sort?) and some cool minerals (sulfides?).

Crossing the Blue Glacier again...

That goat was still up on the moraine! He was in a slightly better mood, and made way for us this time.
The sun was out, so we got some cool photos of this shaggy beast.

There is only one goat... Great panorama photo stitch, though.

Back to the subalpine and to camp!
Those are Avalanche Lillies.

Day 4

What can I say about Day 4?
Well, we hiked all the way back down to the Hoh River, eventually returning to the same spot that we had camped on Day 1.

Back up this thing...

This time we made the right choice and stopped at Elk Lake for a much-needed swim/bath.


Rain forest scenes ahead!

At our comfy camp down in the lowlands, we had another round of surprise beers, which I fished out of my hiding spot in the Hoh.

Kevin and Paul challenged their cameras, capturing photos of the rising moon.

Day 5

The hike out was fairly uneventful, but beautiful.

Lots of big trees,

mossy branches,

river views,

tall trees,

taller trees,

cool seats along the way,

sunlit patches of forest,

log bridges,

... and bears!

Did I say uneventful? Actually, this was pretty awesome!
Do you see what Paul is looking at on that tree?

Two cubs!



Where's mom?

Whoa! There she is!

We are leaving....

One last look back down the Hoh Rainforest Trail...


OK, lets head home.

Great trip guys!
I'm thinking we go after some volcanos in Oregon next year.

The End