first ascent of the west peak of Mount Olympus make by the Mountaineers,
and probably the first ascent made by any one, was accomplished
by a party of eleven on August 13, 1907. Although hampered by storms
the party reached the summit without great difficulty and were rewarded
by one of the grandest views to be had in the American mountains.
At 4:30 on the morning of August 13th, the most despised call of
the day was sounded through camp and with a reluctant sigh the company
rolled out of their warm blankets only to encounter a cold wet fog
that lay like a pall over the valley. With hopes of better weather
after sun-up, breakfast preparations were begun and rushed to a
finish and at 5 o'clock breakfast was served. In the meantime it
was discovered that two of the party had not reported, and a short
search revealed them tucked snugly away in their blankets. A vigorous
bombardment with tin cans soon drive them out with the remark that
they had no desire to be canned. Visions of at least fourteen hours
between breakfast and dinner seemed to be a wonderful appetizer,
judging by the way food disappeared.
The call, "Fall in" came at 5:40 and five minutes later the march
was begun. The clouds hung low, with every indication of rain and
with many an anxious look and comment on the weather the conquerors
of Olympus moved onward.
After traveling across the moraine of the Humes glacier we turned
to the northwest up a snow-slope, which we followed a short distance.
Leaving the snow we crossed a talus or rock-slope and descended
a precipitous rock cliff to the Humes glacier. A few minutes for
adjusting packs and the party started for the head of the glacier.
The weather was growing colder and in a short time it began to snow.
Nothing daunted we pushed on, and to a question as to the weather,
an optimist of the party said, "The sun will be out soon," and sure
enough in a few minutes the snow stopped falling and the sun came
out in all its splendor.
traveling two miles up an easy slide, winding in and out among crevasses
that yawned on every side, we climbed a 35 degree slope to the summit
of Blizzard pass. From this point we had our first clear view of
Mount Olympus, East peak with its clear-cut profile of a sphinx
head being the nearest; to the left of it and a mile further away
Middle peak, a ,massive bulk; and still further away and directly
west of East peak was West peak, the main and highest of all. Working
our way down a steep snow-slope and a ridge of rock to the Hoh glacier
with a loss of elevation of 700 feet we turn to the south toward
the head of the glacier on a gradually increasing grade. On reaching
the steeper slopes we turn to the westward a trifle and with short
rests keep plugging away.
About this time the question arose as to whether we would see Mount
Rainier, and, during one of our rests one of the party called out,
"There is is," followed by a chorus of, "Where?" and sure enough,
there in all its matchless beauty was the greatest of all our mountains.
A few stages further and "There is Adams!" is heard. On a short
distance and as we pause to look at Rainier and Adams, St. Helens
is also seen. By this time we do not know what to expect and when
Mount Baker and Mount Hood are seen, the latter over 200 miles away,
words fail and we can only gaze in silence at the magnificent panorama
spread before us. Upon reaching the top of the slope we find it
to be comparatively flat and about one fourth or one-half mile in
extent, seamed here and there with crevasses. To the right, the
East and Middle peaks, seemingly within easy reach. A short rest
was taken here, during which an anxious lookout was kept to the
west for a view of the ocean.
One-half mile further and within one-half hour of the summit of
Middle peak we stopped for lunch. No tonic nor appetizer was necessary
and the scene of the morning was repeated. The inner man being refreshed,
and with spirits corresponding to the altitude, the conquest was
resumed. A short distance nearly level, then a long climb up a 40
degree slope. Reaching the end of the snow we stepped over to the
rock and after a short climb, reached the summit.
Here we found a cairn with the record of the Parker ascent of July
17, 1907 enclosed in a tin can. While some were busy building a
cairn that would stand the weather, others were writing the record
and taking pictures. The Parker party thought this was the highest
and main peak when they made the ascent, but after seeing the peak
to the west they were in doubt and said that from their observations
it was possibly higher. They did not like to admit having missed
the main summit.
The view from the summit of Middle peak surpassed our expectations.
To the westward lay the mighty Pacific; to the north, beyond the
dark canyon of the Hoh that scars the northern slope of Olympus,
lay the straits of Juan de Fuca, with Vancouver Island in the background.
It was to the eastward however, that the most wonderful scene was
unfolded. Probably the grandest setting of mountain scenery in the
world stretched away from our very feet. Close at hand were the
rugged summits of Meany, Seattle, Cougar Peak, Queets, Noyes, Anderson,
Christy, Dana and Barnes, surrounded on the higher levels by large
glaciers and snow-field with beautiful parked valleys below. Beyond
this lies the range of the Olympics that is seen from Puget Sound
and known as the Cast range, with Mount Angeles, Constance and The
Brothers the most prominent peaks, while through a gap in the mountains
the Sound itself was visible. As a background for all this rose
the great volcanoes of the Cascade range from Mount Baker, "the
Great White Watcher," on the north, past Glacier peak, Rainier,
Adams, St. Helens and on the the distant spire of Mount Hood, 200
miles away. To the south a vast sea of timbered hills stretched
out and out as far as the eye could see, fading away into a blue
The work on the peak being finished, the course of empire was still
westward, down the rock west slope of Middle mean. The first to
reach the end of the rock and get out on the snow saw a laughable
sight, some of the more timid passing down their alpine stocks and
hanging on tooth and nail, making the descent with fear and trembling.
Every one being safely down and ready to move the clouds played
us a fine trick by coming down and shutting out all of the peaks
from our sight, leaving us to travel on the information we had gained
from our former view. Going slowly and doing a good deal of prospecting
we at last made out what we thought to be the West peak. Three of
the party having reached the top, one of them gave a shout that
died when half uttered, for just at that moment the clouds parted
and there, one-fourth mile away was our goal. We had climbed one
of the five fingers to the north of West peak. Retracing our steps
a short distance we swung around to the north side of the proper
peak up which we make our ascent. There was some real climbing here,
every climber having to be extreme,lay careful not only to keep
from falling, but also not to loosen and start rock on the people
below. Slowly, steadily, surely we moved on, and at last, we reached
the summit that so many have tried for and so many claim to have
reached. After a thorough search for traces of former ascents we
came to the conclusion that we were the first to reach the summit
of the highest peak in the Olympic mountains. West peak, 8,250 feet
as well as the first large party to reach the next in altitude,
Middle peak, 8,150 feet. With a mighty cheer and then a song we
started our task of cairn building, record writing and picture taking.
The record contains the names of the party, which was comprised
of the following: Miss Anna Hubert, the first woman to reach the
summit of Mount Olympus, L.A. Nelson, W. Montelius Price, Prof.
Henry Landes, Prof. Charles Landes, Prof. T.C. Frye, Prof. F.M.
Plumb, Prof. Weaver, Prof. J.B. Flett, E.E. Richards, A.W. Archer.
We were soon on our way back to camp. The descent was a great deal
faster than the ascent and we quickly reached the snow, making good
time for Middle peak, which we had to climb again to reach the Hoh
The summit of Middle peak was soon reached and then a glorious
coast down the slope that took so much energy to surmount, it taking
over twenty minutes to ascend and one of the party coasted it in
From this point it was a case of travel and we surely did that,
reaching camp in two and on-half hours, or one-half the time it
took to make the same point in the morning. Twelve and one-half
hours after leaving camp we were back again and found a warm dinner
The writer found two days later that West peak could be reached
by a shorter and easier route without the ascent of Middle peak,
leaving an easy trip up Middle peak on the return to camp.
FIRST ascent of the west and highest peak, altitude 8,250 feet,
by aneroid reading of The Mountaineers, August 13th, 1907.
LA Nelson, leader.........................................................................Seattle
Miss Anna Hubert....................Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,
Prof. Henry Landes....................................University
of Washington, Seattle
Prof. Charles Landes...................................................High
J. B. Flett...................................................................High
Prof. Theodore C. Frye...............................University
of Washington, Seattle
Prof. C.E. Weaver........................University of California,
Prof. F.H. Plumb............................................Principal
Denny School, Seattle
Mr. W. Montelius Price.....................................................................Seattle
Mr. EE Richards.............................................................................Seattle
Mr. A.W. Archer...............................................................................Seattle
Miss Hubert was the first woman to climb Mount Olympus, and the
only one to climb West Peak.
The party left in the record box the following articles: United
States flag, Mountaineers' badge, jack-knife, red and blue ribbon,
purple string, ten cent piece, five cent piece, bread ticket, safety
pin, a calk, hair pin, two matches and a business card of A.W. Archer,
containing account of The Mountaineers first attempt to climb Mount
First Ascent, August 12,
The first party of The Mountaineers to reach the summit of Mount
Mr. John A. Best, Jar Mt. LA Nelson Prof. H.C. Stevens
Second Ascent, August 15,
Dr. Cora Smith Eaton, first and only woman who has climbed this
Mr. L. A. Nelson
The following were left on the summit: "Record of ascent of East
Peak, or Sphinx Head, of Mt. Olympus, on August 12, 1907 by a party
of 'Mountaineers' from 'Hospital Camp' in Queets Valley, in four
hours and five minutes, by way of Humes and Hoh Glaciers.
"An old paper, supposed to be from Shelton, from extracts therein
found in cairn. Same is enclosed with this record.
"LA Nelson, Seattle. John A. Best, Jr., Seattle, HC Stevens, Seattle.
"We salute the brave pioneers who climbed in 1899"
In the ascent of August 15, by Mr. Nelson and Dr. Eaton, it was
decided that the date of the Shelton newspaper was August 12, 1899,
exactly eight years to a day from the day it was found by Mr. Nelson's
party, August 12, 1907. This conclusion is based on the fact that
there is an administrator's notice sighed Frank D. Nash, with the
dates under it, of publication- "July 15, 22,29, Aug. 5, 12, 19"
And there is notice of resolutions on the death of Robert Brand,
"at a regular meeting of the Tenino Lodge, No. 38, A.O.U.W" on August
7. The paper therefore must have been printed later than August
7 and the natural inference would be that it was the issue of August