– Through the green maze of the lowlands to the icy roof of our peninsula –

There are only a few places on our peninsula from where one can actually see the snow-covered center with Mt.Olympus. (This is from Obstruction Point) All around is thick forest.

 In order to reach the elusive heart of the Olympics one has to walk for days through an enchanted forest.


One trail follows the Hoh River. Although you continually hear its powerful voice in the distance it’s only occasionally that you actually see the river.

Most of the time we walk in the dim light under the overgrown tree giants and listen in mysterious, echoless silence to the faint sounds of our footsteps.

 We have world-record rainfalls here, in winter it pretty much rains all the time. As if the rain had turned into a living organism, moss hangs from the trees like icicles.


 These forest regions have never been touched by loggers. Fallen giants litter the ground, everything is as it has always been for eons.

 These maple trees are alive and well – the moss lives in peaceful symbiosis with them.

 Like in the womb of a forest, it is magic to sleep in this realm of living silence.

Tea time at a whispering creek.


The trees are like ghosts frozen in time.

  Eventually the atmosphere changes a bit – without ever noticing it, we have gained some elevation.

Now we really start climbing. Like slaves we labor up with our heavy packs. The air gets dryer and thinner, a wonderful tension seems to develop, we are getting closer.

 At one place, only minutes before we reach the glacier, an avalanche had caused a massive landslide and the trail had been wiped out. The 45 degrees of hopelessly loose scree truly got our attention. With the heavy load on your back you can’t react like a gazelle, and if you slip, there is no stopping. Another avalanche came crashing down just when we were right in the middle of the crossing. On our way back we watched in horror how a poor fellow climber tumbled down this shoot. We found him seriously shocked, bleeding all over, but fortunately he could walk.

 Up at Glacier Meadows we met a ranger – an attractive young woman. Of course, she knew about the problem. Material for a cable system to make this stretch passable again could not be helicoptered in because a certain species of birds are breeding there right now. Pretty good! I like it! To preserve nature in the park is more important than catering to some “bloody” humans who should have more respect and be more self reliant.

 The very first glimpse of the mountains. This is Mt.Tom in the distance.

In our base camp at Glacier Meadows we meet a relative of our friends the mountain goats.

Next day, long before sunrise, I get on my way to touch the ice and reach the summit of Mt.Olympus. Parvin doesn’t feel so well and wants to stay behind.

The route beyond the Blue Glacier

On the Blue Glacier of Mt.Olympus

 The ice is really blue! The surface is pretty much snow free and so wet and thereby so slippery that you wouldn’t stand a chance without crampons.

              Laboring up the snow dome. It’s not warm yet and I’m getting up fast, however, later, coming down in the heat, the snow has turned into a slimy soup and even with crampons I slide all the time.

 Fantastic gaping crevasses. The main summit: West Peak, the rocky cone behind the upper snow ridge becomes visible. It presents the only technical rock climb.

Later in the day some crevasses are glowing from the penetrating sunlight.

     Past Snow Pass – gaining more and more elevation.

 Finally I reach the rock and the summit block. The rest is technical rock climbing. Because of a flimsy snow bridge the so called Normal Route from the NE snow ridge seems dubious. As I always prefer to do, I take the “Diretissima”, straight up without deviation. I thoroughly enjoy it.

 There is not much room on top.

    I have the entire mountain for myself.

Middle Peak and East Peak.

 Once it was possible to ascend up this ice ramp. In recent years a monstrous gaping ‘Bergschrund‘ has opened up and made it extra challenging to take this route. (I like the ancient German word Bergschrund, which is a “wound in the mountain”.

 Endless ice and snow wilderness to the east.

The original ‘Olympus‘ is in Greece, it’s a gentle hill compared to this one. The ancient Greeks believed that the gods lived on their Olympus.

 From the summit I see another party coming up and making their way through the maze of crevasses on the snow dome. I did not meet them, they never made it up.

 I had brought one beer and rolled it in my hand, and in a precious moment of not thinking I set it on the rock and left it there. A sacrifice to the gods? Yes and no, it is a little gesture I sometimes do since I once climbed the Matterhorn long time ago. I occasionally leave little gifts on high mountain tops for the next unknown idiot who comes struggling up and wonders: what fool has forgotten this here, great, I take it and enjoy it. A little gesture perhaps to myself, maybe a little melodramatic and theatrical, but no one knows, no one sees it the way I see it.

 For more click here.

 * * *

Snow & Ice sculptures.

Going down now, it gets really warm.


 Snow Pass

 * * *

 After 8 hours and 4000 feet up and down again, I’m back at the base camp. I join up with Parvin again, take a short rest, and we still descend down to the upper Hoh foot bridge the same day.

 Back the long haul through the forest again the next day. I’m a little pooped, but the rain forest has its well known soothing effect. Exhausted but peaceful we reach the coast, the Pacific, the edge of the peninsula.

     Tidal pools, teaming with life.

Wide beaches,

                       crashing surf.

A dead whale lies on the beach, a relic of vast ocean wilderness around our peninsula.


                                                                Klaus Aug 11.  2008

This entry was posted in 2008, Summers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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