Mt Olympus (7,969ft)
Eric and Katie
After a late start trying to pick up permits at the Quinault ranger station during business hours saturday morning we hit the trail at the Hoh visitor center at 11am Saturday morning. It was raining pretty hard, as would be expected in a rain forest, but the weather was projected to improve the next few days so we thought we’d try for the summit.
There were tons of other people out hiking for the holiday weekend, but we only passed two groups of mountaineers, both returning from Mt Olympus after getting shut out by bad weather. We reached Glacier Meadows at 8:30pm and talked to one other group of climbers there. They planned to start super early at 4am for a summit attempt. We had seen the forecast for rain in the morning clearing in the afternoon, so decided to sleep in. The summit isn’t actually very far from camp, so doesn’t require a full day.
We got up at 8am and were hiking by 9:15. At the glacier we realized we’d forgotten our sunscreen. Here we made the fateful choice to continue on, wrapping our faces and necks in bandanas and hoping the clouds would help us. As it turned out, this was a terrible decision. I think the thin low clouds may have made things worse, and coupled with a high UV day in late May we got really badly sunburned.
From glacier meadows we hiked to the lateral morraine of the blue glacier, dropped down, and roped up, following the footprints from the group of five. We crossed the glacier, climbed up snow dome, then traversed through crystal pass. The direct ascent was blocked by a huge open bergschrund.
After crystal pass we climbed up to the false summit (also called Five Fingers) and met the other group returning. They had somehow put 5 people on a single rope, and it had taken a long time to belay everyone up the summit pyramid.
We downclimbed to the saddle, then climbed up a steep snow slope to the base of the north ridge of the summit. Here I led half way up the rocky summit pyramid, but we ended up retreating due to icy cold conditions. We’ll have to come back later when it’s warmer to get the rest of the way to the top.
Back at Glacier Meadows we realized how sunburned we were, but it was too late to do anything about it.
The next morning we left early, hiking back along the hoh river and reaching seattle before too late.