Mt. Olympus

Climb Mt. Olympus in Washington State with Pacific Alpine Guides


Mt. Olympus climb with Pacific Alpine GuidesDESCRIPTION

Mt. Olympus is the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains, an impressive glaciated massif crowned by three summits, positioned in the heart of the range. Guarded by a 17.5 mile approach that begins at only 600’ above sea level, Olympus is a big climb despite its 7980’ summit elevation. The effort this trip requires is greatly rewarded by spectacular 360° views, and beautiful climbing on a remote peak.

Mt. Olympus climb with Pacific Alpine GuidesWe spend two days on the approach hiking through the lush Hoh Rainforest, gaining most of our elevation on the second day. Our climb begins from a camp at Glacier Meadows, at the toe of the Blue Glacier. The ascent involves glacier mountaineering and snow climbing, finishing with a short pitch of rock on the summit block.

Mt. Olympus climb with Pacific Alpine Guides

Climbers on the summit block.

Our standard program is 5 days in length, climbing on the third day, and returning to camp that evening. This allows two full days for the hike out, and even some time to explore the lower Blue Glacier on day 4. Most people will find this to be the most enjoyable pace for this trip.

We also offer a 4 day “express” program. On this trip we climb on the third day, pack up camp that afternoon, and descend 7 miles to Lewis Meadows. This makes for a longer summit day but can be a good option if time is a factor, or you’re seeking a more challenging overall experience (or both).

Llama support to Elk Lake from Olympak Llamas is available at additional cost, depending on group size.

 

RECENT TRIP REPORTS

View Photos

5 DAY PROGRAM

DAY 1 – Trailhead to Lewis Meadows

We meet at the Overnight Parking Lot of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center at 9am for introductions, orientation, and gear check. Once packed, we’ll secure our permits and begin the approach. On this first day we will cover 10 miles of gradual terrain along the Hoh River, hiking through lush temperate rainforest. We arrive at our first camp, prepare dinner, and spend the evening practicing a few basic mountaineering skills.

DAY 2 – Lewis Meadows to Glacier Meadows

The Hoh River Trail’s gradual incline becomes a steady ascent, gaining over 3000’ in 7 miles to Glacier Meadows. We arrive in the afternoon and set up camp along the creek. Here we’ll discuss the details of the climb ahead including what we’ll need to bring, and what to expect. The rest of the afternoon is spent making preparations. We eat dinner and head for bed on the early side in order to maximize our rest for the big day to come.

DAY 3 – Climb

With an early start, we eat breakfast and set off on the climb. After two days of carrying bigger loads, it’s nice to be moving with lighter packs.

The route follows a lateral moraine before crossing to the other side of the Blue Glacier. Here we ascend a feature called the Snow Dome, cresting a broad plateau at 6600’. From this point we have an excellent view of our objective, the West Peak, but getting there can be somewhat circuitous. Depending on conditions we’ll use one of a couple variations, the standard ascending through Crystal Pass to the head of the Blue Glacier before wrapping around the false summit. From this point a steep snow slope leads us to the final pitch of rock and a short scramble takes us to the summit.

On top we enjoy 360° views of the Olympics. We spend half an hour or so on the summit, take lots of pictures, and prepare for the descent.

Returning to camp, we cook up dinner and hot drinks and enjoy some well-earned relaxation time.

DAY 4 – Glacier Meadows to Lewis Meadows

In the morning we take a walk along the lower Blue Glacier. With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, more precipitation falls on this glacier than any other in the lower 48 United States. Depending on the snow year, sometimes we can do a little ice climbing in the crevasses here.

Back at camp we get packed up for the walk downhill. The descent will take us back into the Hoh Rainforest where we’ll camp along the river at Lewis Meadows.

DAY 5 – Lewis Meadows to the Parking Lot

We hike out the remaining 10 miles along the Hoh River, arriving back at the parking lot by early afternoon.

4 DAY PROGRAM

DAY 1 – Trailhead to Lewis Meadows

We meet at the Overnight Parking Lot of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center at 9am for introductions, orientation, and gear check. Once packed, we’ll secure our permits and begin the approach. On this first day we will cover 10 miles of gradual terrain along the Hoh River, hiking through lush temperate rainforest. We arrive at our first camp, prepare dinner, and spend the evening practicing a few basic mountaineering skills.

DAY 2 – Lewis Meadows to Glacier Meadows

The Hoh River Trail’s gradual incline becomes a steady ascent, gaining over 3000’ in 7 miles to Glacier Meadows. We arrive in the afternoon and set up camp along the creek. Here we’ll discuss the details of the climb ahead including what we’ll need to bring, and what to expect. The rest of the afternoon is spent making preparations. We eat dinner and head for bed on the early side in order to maximize our rest for the big day to come.

DAY 3 – Climb

With an early start, we eat breakfast and set off on the climb. After two days of carrying bigger loads, it’s nice to be moving with lighter packs.

The route follows a lateral moraine before crossing to the other side of the Blue Glacier. Here we ascend a feature called the Snow Dome, cresting a broad plateau at 6600’. From this point we have an excellent view of our objective, the West Peak, but getting there can be somewhat circuitous. Depending on conditions we’ll use one of a couple variations, the standard ascending through Crystal Pass to the head of the Blue Glacier before wrapping around the false summit. From this point a steep snow slope leads us to the final pitch of rock and a short scramble takes us to the summit.

On top we enjoy 360° views of the Olympics. We spend half an hour or so on the summit, take lots of pictures, and prepare for the descent.

Returning to Glacier Meadows in the afternoon, we take a short break and pack up our camp. Our goal is to descend 7 miles back down to Lewis Meadows. Arriving in the early evening, we set up camp, prepare dinner and hot drinks, and relax for the evening. This makes for a long day in the mountains, and rest is well earned.

DAY 4 – Lewis Meadows to Trailhead

We hike out the remaining 10 miles through the Hoh Rainforest, returning to the parking lot by early afternoon.

Need rental gear? Items with the RENT link are available through us. Information on where to rent other gear (such as mountaineering boots) is available on our Rental Gear page.

In addition to the items on this list, participants will be given a portion of the group equipment to carry.

PACK & SLEEPING SYSTEM
☐ BACKPACK: 60-85 liter internal frame pack.
☐ SLEEPING BAG: Rated between 0° and 20°, down or synthetic. RENT
☐ COMPRESSION STUCK SACK: Sized appropriately to your bag.
☐ SLEEPING PAD: Closed cell foam or inflatable.

TECHNICAL GEAR
☐ ICE AXE: 60-70cm mountaineering axe. No leash is required. RENT
☐ CRAMPONS: 10 or 12 point steel mountaineering crampon. Avoid waterfall ice crampons with fully rigid frames and vertical front points, as well as older crampons with leather straps. Make sure that your crampons are compatible with your boots. RENT
☐ HARNESS: Alpine harness with adjustable leg loops. For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. Be sure to check the fit of your harness. RENT
☐ (2) LOCKING CARABINERS: Pear shaped recommended.
☐ CLIMBING HELMET: Needs to be climbing specific. RENT
 TRANSCEIVER: Modern, digital transceiver, preferably less than 5 years old. A 3-antennae model is highly recommended. RENT

OTHER GEAR
☐ POLES: Ski poles or trekking poles with powder baskets. RENT

FEET
With the 17.5 mile approach on trail, choosing appropriate footwear for Olympus can be tricky. Mountaineering boots are required for this climb, but are not necessarily the most comfortable option for the hike in and out. Our favorite option is a lightweight synthetic mountaineering boot with a half-length shank such as the La Sportiva Trango S, which works well for both trail walking and climbing. A combination of approach shoes and rigid mountaineering boots is also a good option.
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Must be specifically designed for mountaineering. A lighter weight mountaineering boot is ideal (ex: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX).
APPROACH SHOES (OPTIONAL): Should provide ankle support for carrying a big pack. If you intend to use plastic mountaineering boots for the climb, we strongly recommend approach shoes.
SANDALS (OPTIONAL): For around camp. Think lightweight.
GAITERS: Provide a clean interface between our pants, boots, and crampons.
☐ SOCKS: 2-3 pairs (wool or synthetic) that fit well with your boots, keeping in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not necessarily heavier socks.

HEAD
☐ SUNGLASSES: Glacier glasses or dark tinted wrap-arounds, should have full UV protection. Consider bringing an extra pair. RENT
☐ WARM HAT: Fleece, wool or synthetic.
☐ SUN HAT: Baseball cap, visor, etc.
☐ FACE PROTECTION: Buff® recommended.

HANDS
☐ LIGHT GLOVE
☐ MEDIUM GLOVE: Should be wind and water-resistant; think ski glove.

UPPER BODY
There are many layering combinations for your upper body that will work well. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ BASELAYER TOP: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric.
☐ (1-2) INSULATING LAYERS: Fleece, softshell or synthetic/down. Two lighter layers are more versatile than one heavy layer.
☐ HARDSHELL JACKET WITH HOOD: Lightweight and waterproof.
☐ SYNTHETIC OR DOWN INSULATED JACKET

LOWER BODY
☐ BASELAYER BOTTOMS (OPTIONAL)
☐ SOFTSHELL CLIMBING PANTS: Lightweight, breathable synthetic fabric. Zip-off trekking pants also work.
☐ HARDSHELL PANTS: For adverse weather. These must have full side zips.

MISCELLANIOUS
☐ (2) HEAVY TRASH BAGS: Cheap lightweight waterproof lining for your backpack.
☐ SUNSCREEN: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on.
☐ LIP BALM
INSECT REPELLENT: Avoid DEET (ex: Natrapel).
WATER BOTTLE(S) or HYDRATION SYSTEM: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS or STERIPEN
☐ THERMOS (OPTIONAL): Half-liter size recommended.
 COMPACT CAMERA
☐ EXTRA BATTERIES: For your transceiver (usually AAA), headlamp, camera, etc.
☐ HEADLAMP: LED headlamp recommended. RENT
☐ LIGHTER

FOOD
☐ SEE DETAILS

EATING UTENSILS
 INSULATED MUG
☐ BOWL
☐ (2) SPOONS or SPORKS

PERSONAL FIRST AID/TOILETRIES
Guides will carry a well-equipped group first aid kit.
☐ PERSONAL TOILETRY KIT: Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and/or baby wipes, gender specific items, small bottle of hand sanitizer.
☐ PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT: Band-Aids, blister repair, anti-diarrheal (Immodium), antacid, ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as any personal prescription medications (be sure to discuss these with us).

OPTIONAL ITEMS
☐ EAR PLUGS
☐ CHEMICAL HAND WARMERS
☐ BOOK or KINDLE
☐ JOURNAL W/PENCIL
 IPOD

GROUP EQUIPMENT
We will provide all necessary group equipment for your trip such as tents, stoves, ropes, and rescue gear.

EXPERIENCE

    • This program includes skills training.
    • No previous mountaineering experience is required.
    • Previous hiking and/or backpacking experience is recommended.

FITNESS

    • Excellent physical fitness is required for this program.
    • You should be able to hike/climb for 1-2 hours at a stretch taking 10 minute breaks, for up to 12 hours.
    • You should be able to ascend 3000′ in a day carrying 50 lbs on your back, and 4500′ in a day carrying 30 lbs on your back.
    • Physical conditioning should not be underestimated – mountaineering is a strenuous activity. Some sort of training/exercise regimen is strongly recommended.
    • The better shape you’re in, the more you’ll enjoy the climb, and the better your chances of making it to the top.

COST INCLUDES

    • Guiding and instruction
    • 3:1 ratio (4:1 max)
    • Group equipment: tents, stoves, fuel, ropes
    • Permit costs

NOT INCLUDED

    • Lodging and transportation before and after the trip
    • Personal equipment and food*
    • Park entrance fee (free with park pass)

*provided for an additional fee.

FOOD

Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.

Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.

Breakfasts & Dinners: Bring meals that can be cooked with just boiling water. Examples include freeze-dried pouches (Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, etc. The stoves we use are very efficient for heating water but are not suitable for cooking.

WHERE TO MEET

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center Overnight Parking Lot

From Port Angeles/Forks (Hwy 101 West, South): From Port Angeles head west on Hwy 101 to the town of Forks. Continue past Forks for 12.5 miles (101 South), and turn left on Upper Hoh Valley road, reaching the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center in 18 miles.

From Aberdeen (Hwy 101 North): From Aberdeen, head north on Hwy 101 for approximately 94 miles. Turn right on Upper Hoh Valley road, reaching the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center in 18 miles.

TRAVEL

Flights

Option A: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From here the drive to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center is about 4.5 hours.

Option B: Fly into Port Angeles. Kenmore Air flies daily from Sea-Tac and is an Alaska Airlines partner (domestic flights can be booked with Port Angeles as the destination). From Port Angeles it’s a 2 hour drive to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center.

Car Rental

Many options exist in Sea-Tac. There’s also a Budget Rent-A-Car in Port Angeles.

ACCOMODATIONS

Forks is an hour away from the trailhead.

Forks Chamber of Commerce

RESOURCES

Check out our Weather & Avalanche Resources page.

Books


Mountain
Mt Olympus

Route
Blue Glacier

Elevation
7,980′

Grade
II; 5.4, 40° snow and ice

Duration
4 or 5 days

Ratio
3:1 (4:1 max)

Dates
June 25-28, 2015 (4 day)
July 15-19, 2015 (5 day)
Aug 19-23, 2015 (5 day)
Sept 9-13, 2015 (5 day)

Cost
5 day: $995 per person
4 day: $895 per person

+Custom Cost
4 days
1:1 – $1400/person
2:1 – $1000/person
3:1 – $780/person

5 days
1:1 – $1750/person
2:1 – $1250/person
3:1 – $975/person

Custom Request Form
Custom Info
Custom Rates


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