OHE April 11, 1999 (Pakui Makai)



Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 23:19:13 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Waimanalo Ridge & Pakui Makai

A handful of HTMC members went on an exploratory outing in the Waimanalo foothills today, and several of us ended up with more excitement than anticipated.

Normally, on Sundays I participate in trail maintenance outings for the club, but since today was the HTMC's annual meeting, no hikes or clearings were on the calendar. Not wanting to go hikeless, I joined a dozen folks for what was supposed to be a relaxing stroll in the hills mauka of Kalanianaole Hwy across from Olomana Golf Course. On hand were Bill Gorst, John Hall, Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Naomi Nasu, Pat Rorie, Nathan Yuen, Ralph Valentino, Jason Sunada, Charlotte Yamane, Jim Pushaw, and I.

We met at 8 a.m. at the HTMC clubhouse in Waimanalo then carpooled in three vehicles to our start point at the end of Mahiku Place, which is near the terminus/origin of the Maunawili Demonstration Trail.

At the end of Mahiku is a stable and a signed trailhead. Beyond the start-point is a plethora of horse and motorcycle trails winding up, over, and around the hills in the area. Bill Gorst had hiked the area before and led us on a short sidetrip to the site of an old quarry. No more than ten minutes from the trailhead, the quarry sits in a small stadium-shaped ravine that some of us joked would be a good place for a club campout. Some also mentioned that this area would be well-suited for a Saturday hike the club schedules twice each month.

From the quarry we climbed to the crest of Waimanalo Ridge at a large eroded area. From there we had a clear view of the rest of the ridge as it dipped initially then undulated along to eventually join Aniani Nui Ridge near the backside of Pakui, also referred to as the third peak of Olomana.

Our plan was to ascend Waimanalo Ridge to Aniani Nui, then play by ear what we'd do thereafter. When we started out, Pat playfully suggested that we climb Pakui's precipitous backside flank, but no others seemed eager for such an undertaking. Instead, most of us anticipated more mundane fare--namely looking for possible contour routes around the base of the three Olomana peaks.

From the eroded area, we needed about half an hour to reach Aniani Nui. As we approached, I eyed an adequately vegetated spur just Kailua-side of our ridge that looked promising as a means to acquire the steep flank of Pakui about halfway to its top. Bill said he had explored the bottom part of the spur in the past and thought ascending it wouldn't be a problem. Whether Ahiki's summit could be gained via this approach was undetermined.

Once we reached Aniani Nui Ridge, we turned right and continued for about 100 yards to the base of Pakui. At that point, Ralph went up the first steep pitch to a point where he could grab the bottom of the first rope section. Transfixed by the feel of the rope and the sight of the steep ridge above, Ralph displayed a body language that said, "Pakui summit, here I come." Ralph also had a lengthy coil of rope strapped to his pack to assist in a possible climb, if attempted, and when Pat volunteered to lead if he followed, Ralph was sold.

As it turned out, Jason Sunada and Charlotte Yamane (my idol) also enlisted in the summit assault team. Nathan Yuen, Naomi Nasu, and John Hall came very close to joining them but ended up opting not to. Not in the right frame of mind for the dangerous climb, I also chose to pass.

From the base of the mountain, the non-climbing group watched with fascination and envy as the foursome climbed a first then second rope/cable section. After a few minutes, we backtracked along Aniani Nui and then descended Waimanalo Ridge with a tentative plan to try and gain the Kailua-side spur I'd eyed earlier (I'll refer to this spur as Pakui Makai). As we moved along, we continued to note the progress of the Pakui ascenders.

About 100 yards down Waimanalo Ridge, we veered left to make our way down a steep slope to the bottom of the ravine that separated Waimanalo Ridge and Pakui Makai. We reached bottom without a problem and then contoured diagonally up the steep slope, grabbing trees when necessary, to gain the crest of Pakui Makai.

Obsessed with the possibilities of Pakui Makai, I ramrodded the climb, followed closely by Jim and Nathan. Naomi and Lynn trailed us partway but decided later to head down. I lost track of John, Bill, Carole, and June and am not sure what route they chose.

The ascent of Pakui Makai involved plenty of ducking and all-fours scrambling to avoid low-hanging Christmas berry limbs. Along the way, I spotted no trash, ribbons or old cuttings, indicating that no one had used the ridge in quite some time. Eventually, at about the 1,200-foot elevation level, we reached a point where the ridge transformed into a rocky, semi-narrow dike. I moved up the dike for a short distance but found a better ascent route on the tree-covered slope to the right.

Jim, Nathan, and I continued moving upslope, first diagonally to the right, then left back to the dike. Suggesting that they rest for a couple minutes, I hacked open a passage through Christmas berry branches so we could climb back atop the dike, which looked like a safe way to continue another 30-40 feet to the bottom of a five-foot wide rock chute.

Once at foot of the chute, I examined it as a means of continuing upward. Ascending it would be no problem if a rope were affixed to a tree halfway up the chute, but none of us had rope nor the immediate resolve to scramble up unaided. So we decided to plop down to rest, maybe eat lunch, and consider options.

The problem was there wasn't much room at the base of the chute to plop down, so I scanned the immediate area to see where I could move to make space for Jim and Nathan to sit down. Facing makai with my back to Pakui, I moved right along a lau'ae fern-covered shelf at the base of a vertical rock wall. This shelf, well protected by Christmas berry, suddenly looked like a promising option. In about 20 feet, the shelf made a right turn around the corner of the rockface and to my delight I found a doable stair-like chute of rocks that brought us to the ridgeline of Pakui's mauka ridge above the two rope/cable sections we had watched our four intrepid colleagues climb an hour earlier.

Frankly, I was amazed we'd gained the ridgeline, especially at a point considerably far up. Having climbed the backside once before (with Pat, Dusty Klein, Dave Webb and Rob Geer), I recalled the various cable sections on the mountain and recognized that there were only two more tricky sections to complete to gain the summit of Pakui.

Nathan and Jim were in favor of trying for the top, and after a short rest and a cell phone call from Jason (he, Pat, Ralph, and Charlotte had just reached the summit of Olomana 1), we climbed on.

We ducked under the branch of a large Christmas berry tree then used a frayed cable, whatever footholds we could locate, and a small Christmas berry on the left to ascend a cliff with a small overhang. This was the first of two tricky spots, and we were glad to have it behind us.

From there, we climbed straight up the rocky ridge and then moved up and to the right through a narrow chute. I recognized the rope hanging in the chute as some of the kind Ralph was carrying, and I found out later he had indeed tied some there. Once through the chute, we edged carefully to the right of a large rock, first using Ralph's rope for assistance, then a thick blue & white one left by a previous climber. While ascending this part, we spotted John, Bill, and a couple others at a clearing far below. We waved and yelled and they reciprocated.

Ahead, another section of blue/white rope was available for assistance to get up and through a narrow gap up to the left, and then we were at the final tricky segment: a 6-foot cliff with an overhang. I later found out from Pat that the way to do this rock is on the left. While there is exposure on the left, there are also footholds, which are lacking if one takes a straight-on approach. But we didn't know this at the time and we all took the straight-on attack. Squirming and struggling, I went up first, and made it thanks to boosts from my two colleagues. Then up came Jim, then Nathan.

Knowing the worst was over, we sat down at the summit of Pakui to eat lunch and rest. Over on Peak 1 was a lone hiker, who we thought might be Pat. Encountering this hiker at the summit of Peak 2 (Ahiki) twenty-five minutes later, we found out he was a recently discharged Navy man, logging his final hike before returning to the mainland. He was carrying Stuart's book, and we commended him for his wise choice of hiking information. I should add that we encountered hundreds of bees on the climb of Ahiki's backside. Fortunately, they weren't agressive and we made it past unstung.

At Peak 1, Jim's cell phone rang. It was Jason, calling from a bus stop along Kalanianaole Hwy near the Olomana trailhead. No one had showed up to pick them up, and he was wondering if we knew about post-hike transport arrangements. Instead of waiting, they later ended up hitchhiking back to Waimanalo.

After the phone call, Nathan, Jim, and I descended Olomana 1 without a problem, and we reached the trailhead at 1:30. Bill Gorst was waiting there with his truck, and he drove us back to my vehicle on Mahiku Place, and from there we made a quick stop at 7-11 for a Double Gulp and then drove to the clubhouse for the 2 p.m. annual meeting.

--DKT


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