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Trip Report    

Mount Olympus/Blue Glacier

General Activity Notes:

Day 0 Friday, July 25. Departed Seattle mid-day in time to pick up camp permit in Port Angeles and secure a car campsite at Hoh River Visitor Center. When we arrived at park entrance ranger said camp sites had just been filled, but we went to take a look for ourselves and found several still open. Gate rangers can't pinpoint campsite occupancy with total accuracy. Glad we checked!

Day 1 Saturday, July 26. Departed Hoh River Visitor Center TH at 6:00am. Arrived Glacier Meadows camp in 8 hrs (2pm). Trail built through slide area so no need to climb down ladder.

Day 2. Sunday, July 27. Departed Glacier Meadows at 4:00am. Used lateral moraine to approach Blue Glacier. Found trail down and followed carefully with headlamps. Crossed Blue Glacier, up Snow Dome, through Crystal Pass, traversed along-side false summit (not over), and arrived at summit block by 9am. Ascended route to climbers right, scrambling to belay bench and then single pitch to summit. Used 4 small cams on route and several mid-sized nuts to set belay anchor. Attached static line to rappel anchor and remainder of party climbed with Prussics. All on summit by 10am. Double 30m glacier ropes gave plenty of length for the rappel. Retracing track, returned to Glacier Meadows by 3pm, packed camp and continued descent by 4pm. Arrived at Lewis Meadow by 7pm. Another +17 mile day.

Day 3 Monday July 28. Departed Lewis Meadow at 7am. Arrived at Hoh River Visitor Center TH (10 miles) at 11am. It was good that the last day had the least miles, so we could start a little later and still arrive at the TH early with time to get a nice lunch in Port Angeles.

Route conditions:
Trail to Glacier Meadow in excellent condition, a super highway through beautiful country.

Used lateral moraine trail to access Blue Glacier. Scree descent on discernible trail is short and steep and demands attention.

Blue Glacier was in good shape with small cracks covered by snow; several of us dropped in knee, shin, or ankle deep but nothing dramatic. Otherwise visible cracks easily stepped across. Followed most efficient path up Snow Dome, through Crystal Pass, to the base of the false summit and then skirted to climbers left on a visible boot path rather than over the top of the false summit, which put us at the bottom of the saddle that dips between the false and true summit. Kick-stepped up steep snow to summit block.

One eerie moment walking across a reasonably flat section on top of Snow Dome on seemingly solid snow when all of the sudden my steps sounded hollow and realized I was walking over a snow bridge who knows how thick and how deep below. Yikes!

At summit block we chose the climbers right route (described above) which was low 5th class. A party of two close behind successfully traversed the scramble route.

Permits required?
Olympic National Park entry fee upon park entrance. Wilderness camping permit with fees of $5 + $2 per person per night. Get camping permit form from website and submit well ahead of time.

Driving / parking notes:
We got hung up at the Hood Canal bridge for 30 minutes. Otherwise, plan for crowded ferries (or traffic through Tacoma if going south-around) on afternoons closer to the weekend.

Equipment notes:
Used all glacier gear including pickets to protect steep section above large crevasse just before Crystal Pass. Light alpine rack described above. Most party members wore approach shoes for the 17.5 mile hike into Glacier Meadows and the return to the Hoh River Visitor Center after descending steeper sections of the trail.

Required Skills:
Basic glacier skills; low 5th class climbing skills.

Weather Notes:
Outstanding weather all three days. Cool with a lovely breeze. Sunny.

Flora/Fauna Notes:
Bears, deer, grouse, frogs, banana slugs, . . . and thankfully no goats. Park rangers gave repeated and direct instruction to throw fist sized rocks at goats from 100 feet with the intent to hit them. They are becoming too familiar.