OHE August 8, 1998

Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1998 19:24:57 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Finally, Broken Tooth

We've decided to call the saddle between Kawiwi and Noname peaks "Broken Tooth", in honor of a huge rock there that is visible from below and that looks like a Broken Tooth. Similarity is better than the "Monkey".

You might have guessed that we finally made it: we started hiking at 9:25 at the Waianae trailhead. We were going to go up the old ridge we did two weeks ago, contour to the right to gain the forested ridge, and then go up. About half way up the old ridge, Steve Poor's instincts told him to go right, and says "here's a natural trail". ("Natural trail"??, an oxymoron, all trails are not natural!) We followed that trail down the valley to the right, up the next ridge, and soon gained the ridge-top. I assumed it's the same ridge we had lunch on last time, but Steve babbled about "seems like we gained the right ridge" with absolutely no evidence. I thought "give me a break, Steve", but did not contradict him verbally.

After half hour or so, it DOES seem that he is right. This "forested" ridge is a "middle" ridge, i.e. it begins quite a ways inside a gulch. However, the other two ridges we were on, "lunch" ridge, and "no trail" ridge, are even more middle and so shorter. By cutting across early, we unwittingly cut across the valley before these two shorter ridges start, and so actually reached "forested" ridge!! I had to admit that we "stumbled" upon the right ridge, to which Steve replied "no way, it was all planned!"

After another half hour, we actually got to the bottom of that famous "forest" that eluded us for sooooo long. The forest turns out to be ironwoods, which were all planted by some forester to control erosion when the original native vegetation died off (I read this in some newspaper article long time ago, did not make this up.) The mature/old ironwoods are often quite big, and offer great handholds and support. The forested area gets very steep, and without those sturdy ironwoods, it would have been next to impossible, or at least quite dangerous, to climb up.

Took only another 20 minutes to go through the ironwood forest, and we found ourselves on top of a razor-thin ridge at last at 12:30 (which is also what Steve predicted when we started, well, his instincts are astounding today!)

We went a few minutes to the right, towards Noname, to find a lunch spot. There are narrow dikes with rocks that way, but they don't seem too bad. We chose a nice spot and admired the views. I wanted to go farther, but Steve admonished that it's too dangerous. Actually, it's merely a grass-covered narrow section going down gradually and disappearing in a drop-off that's possibly only 5 feet high, but Steve says it's a dangerous spot dropping off precipitously on all three sides ...!! Anyway, the way to Noname appears open, but there may be a couple rockfaces to negotiate. It's not clear if they are actually easy to do until we come nearer.

On the other side, towards Kawiwi, there is a monstrous rockface, followed by another intimidating rockface. From there, it seems pretty bad. I stared a long time in that direction, also at the next green peak behind Kawiwi, until I realized that that green peak is my favorite friend, the top of Kamaileunu, at which spot I had lunch for like 10 times already after a grueling climb of close to 5 hours!! Kamaileunu looks totally different from the backside, so green and verdant. There are even gullies that look as vegetated as some wet areas in the Koolaus, amazing!

We had lunch and took pictures, and then explored towards the Kawiwi side. Twenty minutes later, we were confronted by a huge (30 feet tall) rock formation, that Steve claims "totally blocks any forward progress". I took a look and spotted a dirt path way below on the left that may lead to a bypass. But after that rock, there are several more fearsome rockfaces ....

We turned back and decided to go straight down the forested ridge to its tip, and to find out the bottom location of this mysterious ridge that "refuses to be climbed" and eluded us for soooo long. There is decent trail all the way to the end. The very bottom is very steep but manageable, even though Steve mumbled about needing a cable there. It terminates steeply inside a very narrow gully (15 feet wide) with walls going up almost vertically on both sides. I got a bit nervous: the Koolau narrow canyons get lots of rain and the erosion proceeded couple million years already and should have reached equilibrium. Here the rocks look they were formed last week, and seem very loosely anchored. If some of them collapse, we would be buried in that gulch for eternity, until they dig us up as fossils ....

Anyway, collapse did not happen. I took a glance backwards and was amazed by the sight of the forested ridge, rising almost vertically, it looks, from the middle of this tiny, narrow valley. Some sight to behold.

Only took 7 minutes to get to the mouth of the valley. On one side is our old ridge and on the other side is a ridge that Steve attempted before that actually goes to Noname Peak. Amazing that these three ridges are laterally separated only by 15 feet at the bottom and they arrive at totally different destinations at the ridge top.

The rest of the way was uneventful, until we looked back on the road, and spotted the huge rock formation where we stopped. We decided that it looks like a huge Broken Tooth, and will hence christen this hike. We were really pleased that we finally got to a totally new spot, using a totally new route up totally new ridges, and that we got to name this hike.

Next time (2 weeks hence) Steve proposes going up to Broken Tooth, and then climb Noname, and come down Waianae Kai way to complete a loop. We think that the rock climbing expertise of Paka and Professor, to the extent that they have any, may be useful in this new endeavor.


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