OHE March 20, 1999 (Waimano Pool/Diamond Head Rim)

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 18:29:32 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Most difficult route on Diamond Head

Went to the Club hike to Waimano Pool, since I haven't been there for more than 10 years. Surprise, Dayle Turner shows up for the wimp hike. The hike went without incident and was enjoyable, except it was muddy and the boots were caked with mud. So Professor came up with idea to do a dry hike to scrape off the mud.

So we settled upon circumnavigation of Diamond Head. We started from the concrete path on the ocean side. We gained the top in no time and started circumnavigating in a counterclockwise direction. We pointed out various features, most of which having to do with the military having used D.H. as a secure base, and ohhed and ahhed.

We climbed the steep section to the tourist lookout, and rested a while. We were talking about this difficult route up from the ocean, the most direct route that is featured in most illustrations of D.H. Dayle noticed this trail far below, and I said I explored it several times from below, but stopped at the steep section. There used to be a cable, and the Club used to do it, but no more, because the cable is gone.

Prof. then proceeded to go down to explore, I said go ahead, but no thanks. I hate loose gravel with sparse vegetation. He went down and I prayed for him, and then he yelled "there is a cable!!", and lo and behold, there _is_ a cable/rope hung from a stake some 50 feet down. He proceeded to go down, and complained he does not know the route out, and so I explained to him how to get back out to D.H. Road. He went down and down, and I made one last prayer, and was about to go my own way, and then he yelled "come on down", and I said "no way". Then he said "it's easy", I went "yeahhh", and he said "it's easy like Kaupo".

That finally got my attention. Kaupo of course has this specific meaning that it is something that's fearsome, been talked about a lot, and turned out to be "not so bad". I assumed he did not want one other person to share his last few minutes on this earth, and so I gingerly went down.

Amazingly, it's not so bad. It was loose gravel for only a short distance, and there is cable and rope to help. Then the ground become rocky, with well-defined shelves to step on. One can almost do it without aid. There is one place I had to jump/rappel with the rope in hand, but that's just because I wanted to be heroic. There appears to be another wimp way to the right ....

After the jump, it's actually a normal trail for a hundred feet. One place there is a junction, and I wisely chose the right fork. Finally, I see the regular trail, and there is another steep section, but with well-defined steps, which I contemplated from below several times prior, and concluded was doable. So I just cautiously slid down.

I reunited with Dayle with a big grin. This is something I always wanted to do, and today I did it, and the rope seems brand new, maybe two weeks old. What a coincidence!

Dayle then told me to turn around and look, and I noticed why I was apprehensive from below before. There is a huge vertical wall of drop-off on the right (left going down), and a fall there is certain death. If I had taken that left fork, the path would have led to this sharp drop-off .... Probably that path was made by suicidal people on their last hike on earth.

We proceeded down the trail, then on D.H. Road to our cars, really euphoric. Started off as a mundane day, and we luckily managed to do a First Descent (among people known to us in the last 15 years). We also noted the ridge next to us, in the Koko Head direction, may well be doable. That would lead directly to the summit bunker. Well, some other day ....


Reply From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>

Some additional comments/observations to add to Wing's write-up.

There were a dozen other folks on the HTMC Waimano Pool hike. It was windy and drizzly, not the best weather for a hike. I had originally intended to go partway up Manana after doing the Pool hike, but the weather dissuaded me from that option.

So off to Diamond Head Wing and I headed. I had never climbed to the rim from anywhere along Diamond Head Road, so I suggested that we go up via a spur that has a concrete "path" (for the lack of a better description) on it. This steep path ends at a fenced-off "lanai" (again, for the lack of a better word) complete with picnic table. Just above the lanai is a short, steep scramble to the rim on an eroded, crumbly slope.

It was quite windy today, and gusts made the narrow section above La Pietra (formerly Hawaii School for Girls) more of an adventure. But without a hitch we made it to the bunker just mauka of the terminus of the tourist route to the top. While resting atop that bunker, I noticed a trail on a spur several hundred feet down. This spur seemed to lead to the base of the steep crater wall directly below, but I couldn't tell whether the spur ascended to the rim or just terminated at a steep cliff further down.

From the bunker, there was a gully that appeared okay to descend for at least 50 feet, so I told Wing I was going down at least that far to check it out. When he saw me shoulder my pack, Wing suggested I leave it, or some other personal effect, in case I bought the farm going down.

I chuckled at Wing's suggestion and continued to move slowly downslope. As Wing mentioned, I found a cable/rope tied to a metal stake about 50 feet down from the rim. Later, Wing commented that it was good that the cable is out of sight from the rim else there'd be a tourist casualty once a week.

While continuing downslope with the aid of the rope/cable (this isn't absolutely essential but is helpful nonetheless), I continued to cajole Wing to follow me down. He feigned deafness at one point, but my comment that the descent was "not as bad as Kaupo (Cliffs--Waimanalo)" apparently got his attention, and down he came.

Eventually, the steep descent from the rim levels off at the place I first saw the trail on the spur from atop the bunker. At that level spot, I turned to watch Wing make his descent, which would have made for some spectacular pictures if I had had a camera. A huddle of folks were also visible at the tourist terminus bunker. Fortunately, the steep descent section is out of sight from anyone at the tourist bunker else someone might have been tempted to follow us.

On the way down, we passed above a homeless person's encampment and a trash-filled concrete thing-a-ma-bob (a topless watertank?). There is the "T" thing to contend with and a barbed-wire topped fence that blocks direct exit to a residential street but there is a way to deal with both.

While walking up Diamond Head Road back to our vehicles, we commented that Pat will have another Pau Hana hike to do (if he hasn't done this already). We also talked about trying to go up or down the spur that goes directly to the tourist terminus bunker.


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