Olympic National Park
Crown jewel of the Olympic Mountains.
Mount 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, climbing Mount Olympus is a significant undertaking despite its modest 7980’ summit elevation. Summit day involves glacier travel, steep snow climbing, and finishes with a short pitch of rock on the summit block.
Climbing the summit block on Mt. Olympus.
DAY 1 – TRAILHEAD TO LEWIS MEADOWS
We meet at the Overnight Parking Lot of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center for introductions and a quick gear check. On this first day we cover 10 miles of gradual terrain along the Hoh River, hiking through lush temperate rainforest.
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 in the forest along a creek. We review mountaineering skills needed for the climb ahead, make final preparations, and head for bed early.
DAY 3 – SUMMIT DAY ON MT. OLYMPUS
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. Summit day is long - expect a 10-13+ hour day.
DAY 4 – GLACIER MEADOWS TO LEWIS MEADOWS
In the morning we take a scenic walk to the Blue Glacier terminus. With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, more precipitation falls on this glacier than any other in the lower 48 United States. We pack up our camp and descend to the Olympus Guard Station.
DAY 5 – OLYMPUS GUARD TO THE TRAILHEAD
We hike out the remaining 9 miles along the Hoh River, arriving back at the parking lot by early afternoon.
Previous mountaineering experience is recommended. Other beneficial experience includes backpacking and rock climbing.
This trip involves:
Roped travel on crevassed, glaciated terrain
Climbing on steep snow slopes using an ice axe and crampons
Class 4 and easy 5th class rock climbing on exposed alpine terrain
Lowering and/or rappelling
A 10-13 hour, strenuous summit day
Excellent physical fitness is required for mountaineering. You should be able to hike/climb for 1-2 hours at a stretch, taking 10 minute breaks, for up to 14 hours. You should be able to ascend 3,000′ vertical feet in a day carrying 50 lbs on your back, and 5,000′ in a day carrying 30 lbs on your back.
Physical conditioning should not be underestimated – mountaineering is a strenuous activity.
Guiding and instruction
Group equipment: tents, ropes, stove, fuel, etc.
Overnight permit costs
Use of bear cans
Personal equipment and food
Park entrance fees
Transportation to/from the trailhead
WHERE TO MEET