2023-07-02 011 Caltech-Mt Olympus-Elk Lake.JPEG

Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Mount Olympus/Blue Glacier

Long, hard climb with mixed terrain, requiring various skill sets. Amazing weather, great people!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Two knee-deep creek crossings a mile before Olympic Guard Station.

    Ladder above the washout before Glacier Meadows in good shape.

    Miserable moraine - 400 vertical feet of sketchy scree and big boulders ready to bounce.

    Glacier in good shape, some crevasses forming - all stepover or sitting just below the route, ready to eat errant climbers.

    Route down from the false summit was a 200ft bowling alley. Unroped and climbed one at a time.

    Moat forming below the summit block.

    Summit rock in good shape.

44mi/8000+ft climbing over 4 days. Day 1 - 15mi to Elk Lake. Day 2 - 6mi to Caltech Rocks. Day 3 - summit and back to Elk Lake. Day 4 - out. Two of us took a Day 5 and stayed at Olympic Guard Station to decompress.  

Approach shoes saved people's feet, especially with heavy packs. Needed glacier and rappel gear. We were able to repurpose hero loops from our pullies as autoblocks, chest harnesses as ext'd rappel runners and foot or waist prusiks as PAs. Found water at Caltech Rocks. Never needed to melt snow, and traveled with a liter at a time, stopping frequently to filter (big gravity filter save the day and forced us to take several breaks on approach days).

Parking and entering the park right now may require a long wait - recommend starting early!

Our permit for the group site at Elk Lake was double-booked by the park. We got in from an 18-hr summit day to find our campsite occupied, woke up the other group demanding to see their permits and both groups were frustrated to realize we both held legit permits. We wrote to the WIC on return and have not heard back.

I am not sure if it was the full moon, holiday weekend or too-cool-for-school elitist crag rat/trail runner mentality, but I have never encountered so much attitude or disregard for safety on any mountain as we saw here. We had people crowding us as we ascended the washout ladder, below us with no helmets. Until we could feel them jerking the ladder, we had no idea and could have easily kicked a rock down on them. We had young climbers at the summit who disparaged the slow fuddy-duddyness of the Mountaineers while trying to rap off their harnesses' gear loops with no autoblock and a piece of webbing that needed to be re-secured. We had groups of 2 cutting in front of us to rap down (on our  line, with our assistant leader staffing the rappel station). The list goes on. Many people were wonderful, our own group was caring and supportive, and the camaraderie with some other groups was strong, but we were all scratching our heads about the overall vibe.

We had a long summit day, a function of trying to summit with a large group of 8 (in the future, I'd only take 6), but every part of it was amazing. We had the best weather that any of our Olympus veterans could rememb.

The glacier was mostly intact. We climbed carefully through bowling alleys. We all aced the rock wall to the summit and had 2hrs on the warm, sunny summit