OHE October 11, 1998

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 22:10:27 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Ohulehule SE Ridge

It's been many years since the HTMC has hiked the southeast ridge of Ohulehule. From what I understand, someone fell at a steep section of the trail the last time the club hiked the route, prompting HTMC officials to thereafter strike it from the annual to-do list. I don't know what year that was. Maybe Wing or some other list member can enlighten us.

Whatever the year, it's common knowledge on OHE-L that Pat Rorie is a strong proponent of reopening Ohulehule SE, if not for the HTMC, for gonzo hikers who'd like to stretch their horizons.

I've been up the SE ridge to the base of Ohulehule's summit bulk with Pat once before, and today we paid another visit, this time with my idol Charlotte Yamane. And what an amazing display of courageous free-climbing Charlotte put on. And she didn't do this to show off, for such is far removed from her laidback, unassuming character. Instead, she climbed to prove to herself that she "still has it." "It" being the fortitude to tackle tough challenges.

And believe me, there is no lacking of "it" in Charlotte.

Today, Charlotte climbed unaided up a steep, exposed pitch of crumbly ridge, hauling rope and cable as she went. To the left was a huge vertical chasm on the Waikane Valley side, probably in the order of 800-1000 feet (I've seen only a few places on Oahu with such a straight-down drop). The right side was a bit better--a dropoff of maybe 200 feet (the hiker who fell apparently did so at this spot). On the pitch were remnants of wire that were once used as a climbing aid. After the aforementioned fall, much of the wire was cut away (by the military?) to dissuade people from attempting this section, but a few shreds remain.

I watched Charlotte's free climb from 100 feet away, all the while with my heart lodged in my throat. Charlotte is a tad under 5-foot tall, under 100 pounds, and ascends like a spider. Today, after she went up and affixed 100 feet of (knotted) orange cable ($9.99 [extension cord] at City Mill), she summoned Pat to ascend, and with some trepidation, understandable given the circumstances, he, too, went up.

The climb involves a traverse of a 30-foot segment up a narrow, crumbly ridge. At the base of a sedan-sized boulder (unclimbable straight-on), one has to inch left 10 feet on marginal foot- and handholds, if any, with the monumental drop to the Waikane Valley floor always in mind. Once the precarious slab left is completed, a good-sized Christmas berry tree is available to clutch and to aid upward progress.

After seeing this section, I decided attempting it was beyond my comfort and skill level, for a fall to the left would certainly mean curtains and one to the right serious injury, at best. But Charlotte and Pat went up despite the potential hazard. And both descended safely after reaching an impossible eroded 10-foot vertical spot just above the Christmas berry. This spot can only be negotiated if a cable is in place. And placing it will have to be done from the top down, something Pat and Charlotte vowed to do on another day.

At present, I can't say I'll join them for that. Maybe I'll find my nerve in the meantime.

There is now 200-feet of cable and rope on Ohulehule's SE ridge that wasn't there yesterday. And if Pat and Charlotte have their way, at least that much more will be laid so that Ohulehule SE will be traversed again after a multi-year hiatus.

I should add that the HTMC has resumed hiking Ohulehule, with an approach from the northwest via Kahana Valley.

The SE ridge of Ohulehule originates off of Kamehameha Highway a half mile Laie-side of Waikane Valley Road.

We took a shortcut today through private property, with permission. The shortcut allowed us to cut a 3.5 hour approach to 1.5 hours.

Hopefully, Pat will post an additional narrative about today's hike.


Reply From: Wing C Ng (wing@LAVA.NET>

The last hike by HTMC was 1985.

I believe that "left slab" was "a very exposed spot" in the words of Stuart Ball (Private communication)


Reply from: "Kirby D. Young" (kirbyd@teleport.com>

I have not done some of the crazier hikes decribed on OHE, but I will say that sitting at a point on the SE ridge of Ohulehule close to where you stopped, Dayle, was one of my more uncomfortable hiking moments. By just sitting and letting my feet dangle, then looking down between several horizontally projecting tree trunks, I could see 100's of feet of airspace directly beneath my boots. Ahh yes.

If I remember correctly, my mother attended a science presentation in the mid-70's about an entomology project to repopulate the summit of Ohulehule with a rare species of butterfly. There was a film showing their ascent via the SE ridge. The researchers returned to the summit of Ohulehule a year later to check on their butterflies, but sadly found none present.

It would be interesting to compare the erosion of this ridge then and now, assuming the film has survived.

Congratulations on your exciting trip.


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