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Trip Report    

Mount Olympus/Blue Glacier

Trip Dates: June 25-28, 2015
Mt Olympus/Blue Glacier & Mt Tom/White Glacier
Start Location: Hoh River Trailhead
End Location: Hoh River Trailhead
Elevation Gain: 7409ft

General Activity Notes:
Day 0. Most climbers camped at the Hoh River campground. A few spent the night in Forks.
Day 1. Departed the Hoh River Trailhead at 8:06am. Reached Olympus Guard Station by 11:35 for lunch. Reached Glacier Meadows camp by 6:05pm. There was supposed to be a new by-pass for the rope ladder and landslide area just before Glacier Meadows. However, the ladder seemed to be the safer alternative so we used that. The landslide area is only about 15 minutes before Glacier Meadows. Only party camping at Glacier Meadows.
Day 2. Left camp at 4:00am with full packs. Accessed the Blue Glacier via the terminal moraine trail (right at the fork). Access down to the glacier from the trail is a steep, rotten talus and scree gully but relatively short. Worked our way up the Blue Glacier and the northern end of Snow Dome. We ascended Snow Dome between a couple of rock islands that were not visible the previous year. Dropped overnight gear at a rock island just south of the UW research facility and departed Snow Dome area by 11:05am. We took the standard route via Crystal Pass, which was relatively straight forward. The only interesting part was the relatively steep section turning the corner right before the pass. We climbed over the false summit and then down through the col and had to kick steps up to the base of the summit block. We ascended to climbers right to a belay bench, then up the short (1 pitch) class 5 rock to the summit. Sewed up the route pretty well, mostly with small nuts and a few cams. Descended via the rap station directly back to the base of the summit block. 30 meter ropes worked fine. From the summit it appeared that the “Early Summer” route would go, with a track east then north of the False Summit. As we descended the “Early Summer” route there was one snow bridge between two crevasses that was problematic so we belayed everyone across that bridge. The rest of the descent to Snow Dome was straightforward and a much quicker trip than traversing back to Crystal Pass. Returned to the Snow Dome area around 6:30pm to set up camp. We were able to find some pools of water around the rock island that allowed us to filter water rather than to melt snow for all of our needs.
Day 3. A smaller team departed Snow Dome at 5:25am for Mt Tom. Meanwhile, the rest of the team made power repairs to the UW research facility that had been previously arranged, climbed Panic Peak, and made water. Mt Tom team returned to camp at 2:50pm after summitting Mt Tom. Departed Snow Dome by 4:16pm. Everyone was back up the terminal moraine gully and onto the trail by 6:30pm. Used a handline to assist the ascent. Returned to Glacier Meadows camp.
Day 4. Left Glacier Meadows around 6:30am. Reached Olympus Guard Station by 11:00 and all party members at the parking lot by 3:00pm.

Route conditions:
Used the terminal moraine trail for access to the glacier. Scree descent is relatively short. The Blue Glacier was in stark contrast to the previous year (2014): there was no snow at all on the terminal end, just blue glacial ice. Further up the glacier there were rivers of water running across the top of the ice, cutting paths in the top of the glacier. The upper portion of the Blue Glacier was good cramponing up to the False Summit. We found the “Early Summer” route to the False Summit to be in and usable for the descent.

Permits required?
Olympic National Park entry fee upon park entrance. Wilderness camping permit with fees of $5 + $2 per person per night. Arranged to pick up permit after hours through the WIC in Port Angeles. Signed in/out at the Glacier Meadows ranger station (platform, unstaffed).

Driving / parking notes:
Parked in the overnight parking area. Note: the Hoh Visitor’s Center was undergoing renovations so a temporary visitor’s center was located in a trailer at the side of the overnight parking area.

Equipment notes:
Carried and used ice axe, crampons, ropes, small rock rack. Carried but did not use pickets. Bear canisters required at Glacier Meadows and Snow Dome.

Required Skills:
Basic glacier climbing skills.

Weather Notes:
Mostly sunny over the entire four days.