OHE November 21, 1998 (b)

Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 21:37:28 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Pu'u Pakui

Hawaiian legend says that Pakui was a runner so swift he could circle Oahu six times in a day. Not many know that a peak on the windward side of Oahu is named after this fleet-footed warrior, and Pat Rorie, Dave Webb, Doug "Dusty" Klein, Rob Geer, and I climbed Pu'u Pakui today with blustery, overcast conditions prevailing.

In local hiking circles, Pakui is more well known as Olomana's third peak, with the first, highest, and northernmost peak being Olomana and the second Ahiki. To reach southernmost Pakui, we used the approach taken by Pat and Laredo Murray on 11/10. That is, we started at the trailhead on Waikupanaha Street in Waimanalo and followed an old jeep road to the crest of Aniani Nui Ridge, which tops out to the south at Pu'u Lanipo (2,621 ft.) and extends north to Pakui (1,440), Ahiki (1,520), and Olomana (1,643).

From Waikupanaha, the approach to the base of Pakui is about 1.5 miles with an elevation gain of about 1,100 feet. From the base, the remaining segment is only an eighth of a mile or so but much of that involves rugged, steep climbing with the aid of ropes and cables.

Pat promised that Pakui's first cable section was the worst, and maybe from his point of view it is, but there were several others higher up that were as challenging and potentially more lethal, at least from my point of view. The number of existing cable/rope sections totaled at least six, and there were several places where we strung up a long orange cable Pat had brought along, a 50-foot rope I'd lugged, or both.

The general climbing order was Pat first, Dusty second, me third, Rob fourth, and Dave as sweep. In some places, we helped the man behind us negotiate a difficult climb by locking hands, with the upper man acting as an anchor or hoist. Several times we tied off Pat's cable and/or my rope, used it to climb, removed it after the last man had ascended, and then passed it forward to Pat or Dusty to retie at a higher point. Granted, there were places where we could have climbed unaided, but we decided to affix aids to be safe.

At one overhanging rock slab segment, I passed my pack up to Dusty to lessen the already massive bulk (read: my body) I had to haul up and over. Thereafter, negotiating the overhang involved assuming a full rappel position followed by a squirming, grunting, yanking, I-hope-this-frayed- cable-doesn't-break hip hop.

There were at least four places where total reliance on the cable/rope was required. HTMC climbing legend Al Miller reported seeing someone free climb the backside of Pakui. Frankly, free climbing that mountain is out of the question for me, so most of the cables were essential for my ascent.

Each completed cable section was a mini-victory , with respective members of our group taking turns acting as coach, encourager, and cheerleader. And going back down was really not going to happen after I had committed beyond the first cable segment. And as Pat reminded us, calling 911 was only an option if someone was on the verge of death.

The final rockface before the summit of Pakui is a little lulu--it's about eight feet, cabled, overhanging, sans footholds. Fortunately, Dave gave me a boost from behind and my comrades ahead offered a hand to yank me up, else I might still be on the mountain now.

Once topside, I belted out a primal scream to release the pent-up anxiety, helped Dave make the final climb, and then strode the final yards to Pakui's summit clearing where I shook Pat's hand and plopped down to rest. While we kicked back, Dusty summed up the experience, saying, "This isn't my idea of hiking." We all laughed in agreement at his exclamation, but by whatever name, we knew we'd probably be engaged in similar outings on occasion in the future, perhaps for the adrenaline charge or perhaps because we're just dimwits.

Instead of eating lunch there, we decided to wait, and after we had rested and gathered ourselves for 10 minutes, we continued on to descend Pakui's northern spine, no picnic in itself. Pat urged us not to let our guard down since there might be a tendency to do so after completing the dicey climb of the previous hour. And his advice was well taken, for we made it down Pakui, up the steep face of Ahiki and then on to true Olomana without incident. I should note that all the climbing aids on Pakui north are gone; fortunately, the long cable on the backside of Ahiki is still intact.

We spent 20 minutes atop Olomana resting, eating lunch and admiring the views of the cloudfree Koolau crest to the south. To our surprise, no other hikers were on Olomana at the time nor on our descent. Perhaps the blustery weather was a factor.

Whatever the reason for the no-shows, five of us completed the point to point south-to-north traverse of the Olomana complex in good stead, glad to have done it, and glad to have a chance to hike, or whatever the thing we did is called, on another day.


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