Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mt Olympus, Mt. Rainer

Introductions to Trip Reports on Mitoc Gallery
Mt Olympus March 2007

Expedition to Mount Olympus Matthew and Eric Gilbertson
Matthew and I were looking for a Spring Break expedition to rival last year's Katahdin trip, and we found the perfect mountain to conquer - Olympus. It's the highest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, and though only 8,000ft it's rugged enough to mistake for something in the Himalayas. The part that makes it a great expedition is that it's in the middle of Olympic National Park, about 20 miles from the nearest trailhead, and it's (sort of) possible to get to and from the trailheads with public transportation (since Matthew and I are too young to rent a car). The normal approach is a 17.3-mile flat hike through the Hoh rain forest and up to 4500ft base camp at Glacier Meadows, but unfortunately for us some bridges on the Hoh road had washed out last fall and the trailhead was closed to the public. Our next option was to start at Sol Duc and hike 22 miles up and over some formidable 5000ft ridges to get to the Hoh rainforest, then up to base camp. This sounded like a fun challenge, so we decided to go for it.

Mount Rainer in August 2008

Snow?! In August? Are you kidding me? I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Our spectacular view of the heavily-crevassed Emmons glacier was now suddenly obscured by white out. The cold, 40° rain had abruptly turned into heavy, wet snow as we crossed the 8,500ft contour. We were happy to see that the precipitation was now bouncing off our clothing instead of saturating it, but it was not the time for rejoicing. It was 7pm, with the sunlight fading, and we still had a couple thousand feet to ascend over rocky talus to reach a place that might be campable. We were getting worried. The date was Saturday August 18, 2007.

We had done so much work just to get us to that point, that our determination to reach the summit was unshakeable.