Mount Olympus/Blue Glacier

A long 17+ mile approach, a glacier with crevasses and bergschrunds, and a class 4 rock climb (with 5th class step) on loose rocky ramps to the summit. Mount Olympus, in the center of Olympic National Park, is one of the "5 Majors" and a major accomplishment. The approach goes through a true old growth rain forest. Solid conditioning is essential. Times: 10-13 hr trailhead to camp: 6-8 hr camp to summit

getting there

Drive US 101 through Port Angeles to 12.5 mi south of the town of Forks. Turn east onto the Hoh River Road and drive 19 mi to the end of the road at the Hoh Ranger Station and Campground in Olympic National Park. Register here for the climb. 


Hike from the Hoh Ranger Station (578 ft) some 17.2 mi to Glacier Meadows (4,200 ft). Happy Four Camp (800 ft) is
reached in 5.7 mi., the Olympus Guard Station (948 ft) after 9 mi. The trail leaves the Hoh Valley after crossing the Hoh River Bridge (1,400 ft) at 13.2 mi. Elk Lake (2,500 ft) is reached in 15 mi. From here the grade increases to Glacier Meadows. Camp only in established sites.


From Glacier Meadows, hike way trail 0.8 mi to the top of the Blue Glacier moraine. Turn left and follow way trail along the top of the moraine for 0.2 mi or so before descending onto the Blue Glacier (watch for rockfall while descending). Rope up here. 

Cross the flat glacier and ascend snow slopes, through and around rock islands, to the crest of the Snow Dome (6,600 ft), keeping left of the biggest rock buttress. Proceed south-southeast through one of two passes left, or far left, of the five-fingered false summit, which is east of the summit, and approach the unseen summit from the east or southeast side. Drop into the sharp saddle between the false summit and the now-visible summit.

Climb a steep snow slope (good runout!) to its flat top, at the base of the 80 ft summit rock on its northeast side. There are three ways to finish the climb.

1) A class 4 route (series of ramps) winds across the east face, then up to the summit (with a class 5 step). Beware of loose rock on ramps and rockfall from above. A very exposed corner should probably be protected with a fixed rope or belays.

2) Drop a few feet W onto the little rocky ridge on the W edge of the summit block. Scramble up 50 ft (easy class 3) to a large, secure belay ledge. Climb directly up mostly solid rock for 50 ft to summit (several moves are class 5.3-5.4, used 3-4 small-medium cams for good pro).

3) Climb 80 ft, or so, directly up the north face, on mostly solid rock, estimated as class 5.4.


From the same anchor, one may either rappel off the summit block on the north side (double rope), or the northwest edge (single rope, to belay ledge) and descend the climbing route.


Seattle to Trailhead 5-6
Trailhead to Camp 1 day (10-13) 3,622'
Camp to Summit 6-8 3,765'
Summit to Camp 3-4
Camp to Trailhead 1 day


Standard glacier equipment and helmet.


Climb can be done in either three or four days. Take food for four days.

A camping permit and backpacking fee are required, obtainable at the ranger station (or at Wilderness Info Center, Port Angeles, 360-565-3100).

In early season, the summit block may be icy and the east side ramps may be covered in snow or ice. In late season, a moat prevents safe access to the east side ledges. The glacier may break up, especially in the passes, in late season.

On popular weekends, the summit block can be very crowded; suggest an early start, like 4-5am.

Good tent sites are found in the rocks of the lower Snow Dome, and on top of the Snow Dome, near the Panic Peak (point 6,809 ft) weather station (these are blue bag sites). Bear canisters are required if going beyond Glacier Meadows.

If you are going to the middle summit of Olympus it needs a new summit register- extra registers are available at the Seattle Program Center and could be mailed to a climbing party.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Technical 3, Strenuous 4, Basic Glacier Climb
  • Length: 44.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 7,400 ft
  • 7,965 ft
  • Land Manager: Olympic National Park
    Olympic Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • USGS Mt Olympus

Upcoming Activities

Glacier Climb - Mount Olympus/Blue Glacier

Climbing Trip
Challenging trip to climb the namesake of the Olympic National Park
Difficulty: Technical 3, Strenuous 4, Basic Glacier Climb
Thu, Jul 4, 2019 - Sun, Jul 7, 2019
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
5 participants 2 leaders
Registration opens Jun 1
Tacoma Branch
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