OHE October 17, 1998

Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 17:00:38 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Kaupo Cliffs

Today the Super Hike is up Kaupo Cliffs, and then down Kulepeamoa. I decided that that is too long and opted to park my car at Kuliouou, where I would bail out.

On 12-4-82, HTMC did the Tom-Tom hike led by Silver Piliwale. He opted to take part of the group up Kaupo, and Stuart Ball and Jason Sunada did that. I opted the easier Tom-Tom route.

I've been told that Piliwale asked Ball, before Piliwale died, to resurrect the Kaupo hike, which Paka and Professor did, and so I got the chance to do this hike out of which I chickened, 16 years ago.

Trail is the same as Tom-Tom, and we didn't even have to climb the notorious fence. We turned left and followed a ditch and then turned right and up before a barbed wire fence.

Soon the ridge becomes "impossibly steep", and we slabbed left across a dry gully to gain another ridge. There is a well-sheltered shelf, and it was quite safe.

Soon the left ridge became impossibly steep, and we had to slab left along a narrow shelf and then climb up with the aid of ropes and cables anchored to several pitons. I imagine it would be a lot spookier without those ropes/cables.

In the scarier sections, Paka offered to carry my ice axe. But soon we come to steep, narrow sections, with not much handhold, where the footing is loose dirt. But then I requested the ice axe, and clawed up like they do on Mt. Everest with the ice axe. That was quite useful, and I got up without drama.

At that point, I decide to call myself the New Skipole, i.e. the Iceaxe Skipole!! :)

After a while the slope become impossibly steep again, and we had to slab right along a goat trail rimmed with rope to gain the ridge on the right, which may have been the ridge we started on. I aimed for the rope anchored to the impossibly steep section, and so actually climbed partways up the I.S. section!!, until Paka advised me not to engage in unnecesary heroics :), and I came back down on the goat trail.

After that it was an easy climb to the summit ridge top!

In summary, the trail clearing and roping work done made the trail from "Kanehoalani-like" according to Legend Charlotte, to something like a steeper Tom-Tom!

I got to the top and Paka flew off. Steve Poor decided to come down Kuliouou also and so stayed with me. Beyond Tom-Tom, there is a cable and here I was photographed and put on the Internet. Three people were coming down the cables, having come up Mariners and aiming to go down Tom-Tom. Due to this traffic congestion, and since I was newly emboldened, I took the route to the left and climbed up without the cable!! Unfortunately no one is around to record this feat. In 1986 Dick Schmidt did the same thing, and now 12 years later, I repeated his feat!

The rest of the hike was easy. We had leisurely lunch on top of Mariners, and enjoyed greatly the section towards Hahaione. This is the section I'd like to repeat, since I did it only once, in 1984. It seems to be about the same, maybe slightly more eroded. I passed the pyramid peak (visible as prominent landmark from Hawaii Kai) and decided not to climb it. There is nice contour that goes around it. Steve Poor tried climb it and I told him that there is this contour by-pass and he came back down.

The rest of the hike was uneventful and we came about at the car shortly after 3 pm. When we reached the Kulepeamoa trailhead, half the cars were gone already, indicating that the fast hikers were two hours or so faster.

Again, a big hand to Paka and Prof. for fulfilling the wishes of Legend Piliwale.


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

On 10/17/98, Pat Rorie and I coordinated Super Hike 3 for the HTMC, and 17 other members joined us for the outing. We met initially at Anolani Street in Niu Valley and after an energetic pep talk and pre-hike briefing by Pat, we carpooled to Waimanalo to the head of the TomTom trail. Mahalo to Herman and Myra Dombrowski, Steve Haas, Ken Suzuki, and Lin Black for assisting with pre- and post-hike transport.

Once at Waimanalo, under a high overcast sky, we set off for an ascent of a rarely essayed route called Kaupo Cliffs. To reach the point where we'd begin the climb, we had to contour toward Makapu'u for 15 minutes along the base of the mountain through a forest of koa haole. At an old barbed wire fenceline, we turned mauka and started a stiff upward scramble. Between huffs and puffs, everyone remarked about the challenge and thrill of the climb which included several sections where concentration, steady nerves, and extreme caution were required. Wing Ng added an unusual twist to Hawaii hiking by using an ice axe for assistance.

By 10:00, the fastest of the 19 had reached the Koolau summit at a pu'u (1,160 ft.) just Makapu'u-side of the Kamilonui ridge terminus. Hiroshi Sakae and Steve Haas, Peter Kempf, and two others were in the speed hiking leader pack. Meanwhile, the last of the fourteen others completed the Kaupo ascent at 10:30 and commenced the westward march along the Koolau spine for the terminus of Kulepeamoa, about 4.5 miles distant.

From the apex of Kamilonui Ridge, we descended to a saddle (920) at the uppermost reach of Kamilonui Valley. What followed was a climb to the pu'u (1,160) marking the terminus of TomTom, an ascent of a steep, rocky cliffside with the aid of a cable, and a brief scramble to a pleasant ironwood-topped hill (1,361), where many of us took our first lengthy break. As we would for most of the day, we were treated to fine views to leeward and windward, with the ocean off of Waimanalo looking especially beautiful.

From the ironwood hill, we descended to a canopied saddle populated by lau'ae fern, several fragrant all-spice trees, guava, and other flora. In this area, we encountered a group of four eastbound for a descent of TomTom after coming up Kaluanui (Mariner's) Ridge. From the saddle, we continued westbound, climbing a first and then a second pu'u to reach the rocky outcrop at the top of the Mariner's Ridge trail (1,560). Nearby, we met several dayhikers who'd come up Mariner's.

The next half mile was erosion country. The most prominent feature of this segment, easily recognizable from the Hawaii Kai area, is a phallic-like pu'u (1,594), that we traversed to windward instead of hiking up and over. Beyond the worst of the erosion zone, we passed the terminus of the Haihaione/Mauna o Ahi trail (1,720). Soon afterward, at noon, fourteen of us stopped for lunch at a semi-sheltered hilltop a few minutes before the terminus of Kuliouou 1. Several of us were amazed at how much ground we'd covered to this point, but our pace, no matter how brisk, was modest compared to the speed hiker group, easily beyond Pu'u o Kona by noontime.

After lunch, we continued on, passing Kuliouou 1 (2,028) then erosion-scarred Pu'u o Kona (2,200) and its massive sloping shoulder that dropped precipitously to windward. John Hall, Fred Dodge, Al Miller, and several other club veterans have traversed this dangerous shoulder, and Pat and I hope to add it at some point to the club roster of hikes if the route can be made safe and access in Waimanalo can be gained.

Beyond o Kona, the summit crest dropped down to yet another saddle and became more decidely green. After a couple hours of hiking over terrain that alternated between rocky and eroded, the romp through uluhe was welcome. We rested again after climbing to the terminus of Kuliouou 2 (2,360). Clouds had enveloped the summit area by this time.

Beyond Kuliouou 2, there are two cable sections, the first to assist a short descent and the second to aid a brief, steep climb. To add an exclamation point to the day's summit ramble, there was a final grueling pu'u to acquire to reach the Kulepeamoa terminus (2,500), and a cheer went up when we completed the climb. It was 1:45, and we had needed three hours and change to cover the distance from Kaupo to Kulepeamoa. We later received word that the Sakae/Haas group had reached Anolani Street in Niu about 1:45, ending an amazing handful of hours blazing through the eastern Koolaus.

The rest of us went down the Kulepeamoa trail at a steady pace and enjoyed the splendid views left into upper Kupaua Valley, right into upper Pia Valley, and downslope to Niu Valley proper and the east Oahu shoreline beyond. Strong winds whipped over the ridge at one point on the descent adding yet another memory to the outing. In addition, Ken, our resident Hawaiian plant expert, pointed out a rare species of naupaka. Nice.

After hiking about 2 miles down Kulepeamoa ridge, we veered right in a grove of ironwoods to begin a short, semi-steep descent into Pia Valley, where we picked up a trail that led us back to Anolani Street. The group I was with, which included Pat Rorie, Lin Black, Naomi Nasu, Herman and Myra Dombrowski, Dave Webb, Dick Beaton, Ken Suzuki, and Robb Geer, ended our day in the mountains at 3:45. As I mentioned, the lead group that included Hiroshi Sakae, Steve Haas, Peter Kempf, and two others, finished before 2. Also, four others opted to exit via Kuliouou 1.

In summary, a great hike on a fine day in the mountains of Oahu.

Super Hike 4 is tentatively slated for March '99. The plan is to ascend Laie, cross over on the KST, and come down Malaekahana.


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