Climbing Mt. Olympus

Photography and Words by Andrew Holman

Mt Olympus (July 4th-July 6th, 2012)

I recently climbed Mt Olympus, the tallest mountain in the Olympic Mountain range at 7,980 ft.  Despite its somewhat modest height, the mountain is home to six glaciers. Blue Glacier is the largest and clocks in at an impressive 580,000,000 cubic feet of ice and snow.  It is also home to one of the longest approaches in the lower 48 states, starting at 500 ft of elevation in the Hoh Rainforest and requiring 24 miles of hiking, camping, and climbing before arriving at the summit.

Look up information on nearly any mountain or mountain range and you’ll commonly read phrases describing how notoriously horrible the weather is.  This couldn’t be truer of Mt Olympus.  Its high prominence, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and the fact that it’s located in the middle of the only rainforest in the continental United States ensure that frequent precipitation (and the whiteouts that accompany it) is common.

I attempted this peak nearly two years ago to the date and, despite our best efforts, Zeus had other plans for us.  About 1,600 vertical feet from the summit we found ourselves engulfed in a white-out and high winds and reluctantly decided to head back down.  This time we had much better weather.  What follows are some selected photos from the climb.

1

A waterfall/stream crossing 2.8 miles in. Many visitors to Olympic
National Park hike to this point, munch on a sandwich, and turn
around.

2

One of my climbing partners, Jason, grabs a snack and goes over the
route with me at the Olympus Guard Station 9.1 miles in.

3

View looking down from the High Hoh Bridge, about 13 miles in.

4

Our first glimpse of the mountain Thursday morning. (we hiked 17.5
miles into camp at Glacier Meadows, got some sleep and then woke up at
2am for an alpine start)

5

Jason descends the moraine onto Blue Glacier

6

Aplenglow and a full moon on Mt Olympus.

7

Crossing Blue Glacier

8

Crossing Blue Glacier (cont.)

9

Crossing Blue Glacier (cont.)

10

Climbing up a small, fun section of high-angle snow on our way to Crystal Pass.

11

Surveying the crevasses just below the summit block.

12

Jason scopes out the 5.4 rock-climb I would lead up the summit block.

13

Karin climbs up some steep (and slushy) snow to the summit block.

14

Fellow climbers on one of the false summits of Olympus.

15

Jason arrives at the rappel anchor on the summit block.

16

Karin climbs up to meet us.

17

Jason is stoked to be on top!

18

The summit register was water-logged from a previous day’s rain and
difficult to write in, so I left some of my cards.

19

Karin rappels down from the summit block.

20

Jason descends some high angle snow beneath the summit block.

21

Karin descending.

22

A last look of some of Mt Olympus’ other summit pinnacles, maybe next time.

23

Icefalls on Blue Glacier.

24

Jason waits for the team to re-group for the glacier crossing.

25

Coming back across the Blue Glacier.

26

One last look down on Blue Glacier from the moraine, if you look
closely you can see another rope team crossing the glacier.

Andrew Holman is a freelance photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Specializing in Adventure and Landscape photography, his work has been featured in The Oregonian, Oregon Field Guide, REI.com, OPB.org, and is frequently used by the Mazamas, a non-profit climbing club based in Portland.

When he’s not taking copious quantities of photos he may be found on a glaciated peak, in a SE Portland brewery, or simply at home polishing up his Facebooking skills.

Web: http://www.andrewholmanphoto.com/
Social: http://www.facebook.com/andrewholmanphoto
More: http://500px.com/unobstructedviews
Climb: http://www.mazamas.org/

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