OHE December 14, 1998 (Olomana)

Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 07:59:50 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Olomana TM

Yesterday's (12/13/98) HTMC maintenance outing was out on Oahu's windward side, with 18 folks in attendance to hack & whack & rock & roll. Included in the faithful flock were climbing phenom (and my idol) Charlotte Yamane, her hubby Volker, Mabel Kekina, Jim Pushaw, Grant Oka and his 13-year-old daughter Georgina, Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Deetsie Chave, Jay Feldman, Bill Gorst, Kim and Judy Roy, Nathan Yuen, Steve Brown, Lin Black, and Doug "Dusty" Klein, who'll coordinate the club hike.

With cool temps, steady breezes, and high clouds, the setting was quite pleasant when we set off at a few minutes past eight. After leaving our cars, most of the gang walked along the Luana Hills golf course access road and ascended to the ironwood grove via the standard route. Kim, Bill Gorst, Mabel, and I, among others, used the lesser-traversed (but better, in my opinion) trail that begins just past the guard shack. And both groups didn't have to do a whole bunch of clearing because either someone else seems to have been maintaining the trails or the dry spell of the past year has kept the vegetation down. In fact, a couple weeks back, Dusty told Mabel that Olomana didn't need clearing, but Mabel had us turn out anyway since some touch-up work wouldn't hurt; plus, it's an enjoyable hike.

Both groups reached the saddle junction below the ironwoods at just about the same time. Dusty, meanwhile, had pushed ahead to begin the steady uphill grind of Olomana. Jay, Nathan, Judy, Kim, Jim, and I were in the pack behind Dusty, and we did some machete work as we ascended. Saturday night's rain slickened the trail in places, and although the dampness didn't present a problem going up, it'd require more attentiveness from us later when we descended.

The first steep, rocky section on Olomana is only occasionally roped. It is now, thanks to the 100-foot (maybe more) length of thick yellow rope that miraculously appeared yesterday (because of the "L" word [Litigation] HTMC leaders never affix ropes, or, more precisely, they never will admit to doing so). In addition to massaging the holy yellow cord as we climbed, we also commented about a handful of re-bars someone pounded into the rock to serve as foot- and/or handholds. While the sentiment behind the re-bars is noble, I'd hate to slip and be impaled, which seemed like a possible circumstance given the traction-deficient state of the hillside yesterday. But slip and be impaled I did not, nor did anyone else. Hallelujah, sayeth the huddled, climbing masses.

Above the rocky segment, to reach the cabled rockface just below the summit, we needed to complete ten more minutes of climbing (maybe three for Pat Rorie, who earlier this year completed the route from car to the summit of Pakui [aka Peak Three] in a tad over an hour). Yes, a rope was at that well-known rockface; plus, another miracle rope manifested itself later on the descent. And, yes, all who attempted the rock-before-the-peak made it up and down sans injury (or worse).

The summit of Olomana was cold and windswept when we reached it around 9:30. The panoramic views are well documented, so I won't describe them here. Suffice to say we didn't linger long atop Olomana, opting instead to descend semi-steeply its backside and then climb to Ahiki (aka Second Peak). After that came the big plunge down the posterior of Ahiki (with aid of a previously strung strap/cable/rope combo), and then the climb to the high point of Pakui.

After completing the steep backside scramble down Ahiki, I yelled up to Judy that the strap was plenty strong; it had to be to handle my bulk. When I then playfully added that the stress my weight put on it may have compromised the strap's continued usefulness, Judy and an also-descending Nathan laughed nervously. But despite its suspect appearance, the strap held, and those who used it to descend (and later ascend) did so without problem.

On the razor ridge to Pakui on this day of miracles, more holy ropes appeared where there were none prior, first at the segment around the hole-in-the-rock and then at the final rockface on the right-contour segment just before the summit. One place that could have used a rope was the rocky dike just above the hole-in-the-rock. Dusty, Nathan, Jay, and I negotiated this dike safely, which has long dropoffs right and left, but the others opted not to, in part because of the exposure and also because a passing squall dumped some rain and made the dike slippery.

As it was, just Dusty, Nathan, Jay, and I reached Pakui's top yesterday. Arriving first, Jay and I examined Pakui's backside ridge, deciding that we'd pass on descending it (Pat, Dusty, Rob Geer, Dave Webb and I came up the backside about a month ago so we knew it could be done). Ralph Valentino, missing yesterday because of illness, had mentioned a desire to descend the backside. We'll probably give it a go next year, weather and will permitting. Dusty and then Nathan topped out a couple minutes after Jay and I, and Nathan reported that the others had turned back after looking at the dike just past the hole-in-the-rock. Disappointed, I backtracked along the ridge to try to encourage them up the bad part but saw that they were already headed back and were nearing the top of Ahiki.

After exchanging waves, even though it was only 10:40, I returned to where Jay, Dusty, and Nathan were to eat lunch, a serious violation of the first trail clearing commandment ala Kekina that says, "Thou halt not partake of a mid-day meal prior to noon." But partake I did, chanting five Hail Mabels to compensate for my sin as I dined.

After gulping down my peanut butter/pickle sandwich (a concoction derived from legend John Hall) and praying for forgiveness for my early meal, I joined the other Pakui toppers for the return trip. We probably would have stayed longer if the weather had been better, but the rain and wind made the summit inhospitable, so trailhead bound we headed.

After a careful descent of Pakui and a puff-and-sweat climb of Ahiki, we regained the summit of Ahiki and waiting for us there were Kim, Judy (mahalo for the Almond Joy), Jim, June, Grant, and Georgina. Charlotte, Volker, Steve, and Lin, among others, had also been there but had already headed back. Grant and Kim encouraged me to explore Ahiki's makai-facing ridge, and I went down it maybe 100 yards, stopping atop a steep, rocky section that appeared do-able if one follows an appropriate line. During my exploration, the weather had deteriorated even more, with windy, white-out conditions blanketing the area. The visibility dropped to the point that I couldn't see Olomana nor Pakui. And by the time I returned to the summit of Ahiki, everyone else had departed, so I shouldered my pack and followed suit.

Despite its more slippery disposition, the climb of Olomana's backside and the subsequent descent of its front claimed no victims. Kim did go briefly astray on Olomana's backside (he went left around a rock outcrop when he should have headed right), and we passed a young couple huddled atop wind-whipped Olomana. Otherwise, there isn't anything noteworthy to report.

We were pau by 1 and we headed to a neighborhood park in Maunawili for post-clearing refreshments. Mahalo to Mabel for the chocolate/sour cream cake and other good kine stuff. Mahalo also to Charlotte, who gave me a couple of nice photos she took when she, Pat, and I climbed Ohulehule's southeast ridge via Hakipu'u.

This Thursday, a bunch of us are heading to the Valley Isle for a service trip in the West Maui Mountains. We'll spend three nights in a cabin (courtesy of Maui Land & Pine) at the 3,000-foot level, do some weed-control work by day, and spend a day hiking to the summit area of Pu'u Kukui. We'll return to Oahu on Sunday evening. I'll report on that outing next week. Meanwhile, next Sunday Mabel will be leading the trail clearing gang on an exploratory trek in the Waiawa area.

Safe hiking to all,

--DKT


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