Mount Olympus 7969 in Olympic National Park via Blue Glacier / 奧林帕斯山

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Mount Olympus 7969 is the tallest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula. The centerpiece of Olympic National Park, it’s also one of the remote places in Washington State. Seward Peak of Mount Baker is the nearest higher peak at 108 miles away.

Mount Olympus in hiding
Mount Olympus in hiding

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Mount Olympus at a Glance

Access: Hoh River Trailhead
Round Trip: 43.5 miles
Elevation Range: 600′-7969′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, snow, rock
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Logistics Overview

July 7-9, 2019

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Sunday, July 7
Hoh River Trail
Night 1 – Glacier Meadows Camp

Day 2 – Monday, July 8
Mount Olympus
Night 2 – Olympus Guard Station

Day 3 – Tuesday, July 9
Exit


Day 1

Hoh River Trail

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Hoh River Trail

It’s been over three years since I went on a Mountaineers trip. S0 together, the four of us, including two new faces, carpooled to the Hoh River Trailhead. We spent the night at the Hoh Rain Forest Campground.

The next morning, we began the 17.5-mile hike through Hoh Rainforest to Glacier Meadow Camp. The distance was comparable to that of the Thunder Basin. But I saw no one on that trip. Though, here we met many groups on their way out.

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Olympus Guard Station

It was an overcast sky. The Hoh River and low ridges comprised the bulk of our views. Then when we reached the Olympus Guard Station, we were over halfway to camp. Woot! There we helped two ladies photograph before continuing.

Afterward, we took a break by the Lewis Meadow Camp. So I could also dress the hot spots on my feet from the approach shoes. Then we met two men after their Mount Olympus climb.

Guard Station junction
Guard Station junction

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High Hoh Bridge Plus Hoh River

So far, the elevation increase over the mostly flat terrain was minimal. Not to mention that we had gained only 900′ in 13.5 miles! Later we dropped down to High Hoh Bridge. Then we moved southbound after crossing the Hoh River.

Soon, the elevation increase was steady as we walked slowly alongside Glacier Creek. By the time we reached Elk Lake Camp at 2600′, we had climbed another 1100′. Unfortunately, it rained just as we hiked above the lake.

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Rope and Ladder Over the Landslide

The rest 2.3 miles to Glacier Meadows felt long. Then at less than half a mile before the camp was the infamous landslide that had been around since 2011. Later we took turns to drop 60′ on a fixed rope.

The ladder worked in our favor on the way up. Overall, we’ve gained 3600′ over 17.5-mile to our camp at 4200′. But that’s barely over half of the attitude to reach the summit.

Landslide with rope and ladder
Landslide with rope and ladder

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Glacier Meadows Camp

By the time we rolled into Glacier Meadows Camp, we were ready to crash. As I surveyed the area, I noticed a dozen tents behind one of the two old shelters. The number of campsites showed the area’s popularity.

I haven’t seen this many people at one camp in many years. But I bet the toilet was exquisite, though I didn’t use it. It drizzled again in the evening. At the same time, we kept our fingers crossed for the weather to improve.

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Seattle Mountaineers and Squirrels

Later we met the team of Seattle Mountaineers with the dozen tents. They had planned on starting at 3 AM the following day. But the group was on a leisurely five-day itinerary. Right then, it sounded way better than our 3-day trip.

Besides continually keeping the squirrels out of our things, we didn’t do much at the camp. So we all went inside our tents after dinner. But I couldn’t fall asleep until well after dark. Being a light sleeper also didn’t help.

Glacier Meadows Camp at last
Glacier Meadows Camp at last

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 2

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus Climb

The sky had cleared up during the night. So when I peeked outside the tent at 4 AM, it was starry. It was a good sign in terms of the weather ahead! We started walking at 5 AM, and then we hiked through Glacier Meadows as it became light.

The defined path took us through to the moraine after sunrise. Then I was in awe when the sunlit Mount Olympus and Blue Glacier first came into view. The sudden shift from rainforest and lush meadows to the alpine glacier was incredible!

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Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus

The hiking part of the climb ended at the top of the moraine. From there, we each found a way through loose rocks down to the edge of the glacier. There we caught up to the other group, and then we started to prepare.

It was a bit chilly as we were still in the shade. Though, I couldn’t wait to go into the sun gleaming on the other end of the snow. Later we enjoyed a leisurely one-mile walk on blue ice.

Blue Glacier below Mount Olympus
Blue Glacier below Mount Olympus

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Snow Dome and Beyond

The steepest part of the glacier went from the lower Blue Glacier up to the Snow Dome. The 600′ steep slope seemed to go on forever. But once we reached the Snow Dome, we were back on mild terrain for another 600′.

The direct route, aka Fourth of July, was impassable due to the number of bergschrunds. So at 7200′, we followed existing tracks and moved east to Crystal Pass. The reroute then took us through the gap to the east of Mount Olympus.

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Mount Olympus False Peak

From there, we traversed southwest along the south of Five Fingers Ridge. Then at the tip of the glacier, we climbed onto the false peak via a short section of loose rocks. Finally, we got our first real look at the summit of Mount Olympus.

Later we dropped to the saddle between the false summit and the actual peak. From there, we moved up on steep snow. Then that put us at the bottom of the 4th class rock climb.

One step closer to Mount Olympus
One step closer to Mount Olympus

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The Final Stretch

After a short group discussion and gear exchange, I proceeded to lead out. Our 30m rope worked out perfectly for this pitch. Then one by one, the other three team members prusiked their way up the rocks to the top.

The weather was still decent at this point. Though, low clouds from earlier this morning were now starting to rise. It looked like the 70% cloud coverage forecast was about to come true.

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Mount Olympus Summit Plus Views

Being the first one on top, I had more time to take photos. To reduce congestion, the other group came up from the west instead. But by the time both teams reached the summit, the clouds had taken over the mountain.

Mount Tom and Mount Olympus’ sub-peaks were in and out of the mist. Other than that, we didn’t see much off to the distance. But at least we still had blue sky above us.

East view
East view

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Leaving Mount Olympus

After we all had our summit fix, it was time to rappel off the top. Then our 60m rope worked out great in going through this part. Later at the bottom, we made our way back to the false peak.

We scrambled down the short section of loose rocks to go back on the glacier. Then we tied into the rope again and used our tracks back through Crystal Pass.

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Back Through Blue Glacier

Clouds had fast moved into the area when we went through Snow Dome. Then we dropped down on the steep snow back to lower Blue Glacier. So far, everything had worked out as planned.

Later we saw another group in the distance. They were going up the alternate route through the rocks. The one-mile crossing on the ice felt like forever. Soon, ridgelines started to fade into the mist.

Back to the mist
Back to the mist

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Leaving Glacier Meadows Camp

Our goal was to leave Glacier Meadows Camp today. So we could shorten the final day and be back at the car early. We had hoped to reach the Olympus Guard Station before dark as well.

After chowing down some food, we packed up and left the campsite. Crossing the landslide went much smoother as we went up using the ladder. Other than water breaks, the group just kept walking.

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Back to Olympus Guard Station

Later one member started having foot issues at Lewis Meadow Camp. So the group let him lead at his pace as he toughed it out like a champion. I’m lousy when it comes to pain, not sure if I’d continue walking.

Despite the minor setback, we made it to the Guard Station just as darkness fell. Two people spent the night in the shelter. Then the two of us took up an empty campsite by the stream.

The simpler life
The simpler life

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Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Outro

Morning came way too soon. Feeling refreshed, we began hitting the trail again at 8 AM. But at least we were now halfway back to the trailhead. In other words, only nine more miles to go!

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Paul

    I’m surprised you didn’t solo this one! Looks like a nice climb except for the amount of people heading up, reminds me of Rainier.

    1. onehikeaweek

      Ha, someone noticed! Luckily, only two groups were on the summit that day including ours. Climbing midweek also helped.

  2. Paul

    Pressed ‘Post’ before I was complete … I have respected your solo ascents and your humble approach as I am much the same. I tried climbing with the Mountaineers but the group dynamics were tough for me and I felt lessor as I felt it was a pi**ing contest and bragging about who had done the most extreme climbs and even criticizing gear choices and that’s not why I climb. This pushed me out solo despite numerous attempts with different leaders etc. So thank you for encouraging folks like me that I dont need to “fit in” with these big groups and for showing the world that climbing can be authentic and a much deeper experience than “bagging the summit bro”. … happy trails 🙂

  3. onehikeaweek

    Thanks for the feedback! I completely understand about the Mountaineers. The one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for everyone. Enjoy your summer outings!

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