OHE September 6, 1999 (Ohulehule mystery solved)

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 08:41:58 -1000
From: James R Pushaw (jrpushaw@juno.com>
Subject: Ohulehule's SE ridge

Notice to all: because I am really just figuring out how to "send" e-mail instead of just enjoying reading all of yours, I recently sent the following message to just a few of you. I meant to send it to all of you and yesterday Dayle told me how. (Hope I get it right this time.) Also, to those of you who have seen this, I have made a few additions.

Greetings all. Just thought I would update the situation of the Ohulehule story. Yes, as Dayle wrote below, Ken and I met at the lower parking lot in Kahana valley at 8:00 AM Tuesday morning to hike up to Ohulehule and then down the southeast ridge trail. We would be searching for the Danish girls' few belongings that they had left behind and to see where they had "lived" those 8 days. We were happy to see that Kost and Gina were waiting to join us for the trek. The skies were gloomy, with low clouds, and though the ground was wet, no rain was falling at the time. (In fact, the day looked questionable as I drove over the hill near the Valley of the Temples, because my first view of Ohulehule showed the summit to be completely covered in clouds.)

While the rest of us were getting our boots on, Ken went to the park's office just to see if we might be able to get the combination for the lock on the gate, and as I drove up, he was waving yellow parking passes. Great! We can now cut off some of the walking.

As we were signing the hikers' log, we noticed that the clouds had lifted from the summit, a very good sign. We pressed on at a faster pace than Saturday, as I had planned no video taping until we reached the summit. Reaching the old "lunch spot," we noticed a helicopter far off in Kahana Valley. As it became louder, we realized that it was heading straight for us and it was the black one - the one with the shield - HPD. We were waiting for some sort of bullhorn message as they circled us 3 times, but nothing was said, and they flew on. It seemed like they had been told of our possible presence this morning. Is HPD an OHE subscriber? (?)

Our plan today was to go down the SE ridge to find where the girls had stayed, to retrieve their 2 cameras and any other personal belongings, and maybe determine once and for all the question in everyone's minds: why they had not tried to get out of their predicament earlier. Since Ken had brought ropes, we decided against untying the orange cord that had been added to a steep section on the Kahana side of Ohulehule because it was definitely helpful where it now was.

We reached the summit at about 11:30, and there Gina chose to wait for our return. Last Saturday, when we reached the summit and found virtually no evidence of the girls being there, I called and spoke to Anitta. She said that they had stayed some 100 to 200 feet down the trail. With that in mind, Kost, Ken and I started heading down. We would soon find that it was going to be much farther than that. Reaching a nearly vertical section, Ken began tying his first rope. When that wasn't enough, a second rope was added to the end of the first one.

Kost was moving down the steep slope past the end of the rope, and being the first one down, he yelled up to me that he had found an item of clothing belonging to the girls - a bikini top. Then he yelled up to us that he saw the cameras farther down. I was still at the top of the rope doing some filming, so I put the camera away and hurried down. Upon reaching the end of the second rope, Ken asked me to take the third rope that he had given to me earlier and tie it to the first two, bringing the total length to over 100 feet. And, as it turned out, it was just enough to reach the spot where the girls had spent their 8 days. By the way, it took us about an hour to make it down and Kost's altimeter showed us that we were at the 1,900 foot level. Anitta and Marianne had come down some 365 feet in elevation, trying their best to get off Ohulehule via the SE ridge.

Reading Patrick Rorie's write-up of 9 June 1999, we are sure that the place they stayed was the "large Christmasberry tree" first mentioned. The only nearly level ground was right at the base of the tree where branches, mud and other debris had gathered from the rains washing down and it was soggy and wet. It looked like they had slept on a hard, muddy slope with their feet holding them from sliding down. There was no grassy area, just mud. The whole area there was quite steep, but the tree above kept the sun off, the shape of the ridge seemed to channel the wind away from them, and the view was, of course, spectacular as they were on the cliff's edge. The biggest problem was that the only way for rescuers to see them would be for a helicopter to fly directly toward them - horizontally - at their level; otherwise they would remain completely hidden under the branches of the tree. There was no open area for them to run to, if they did hear an approaching helicopter.

Two cameras and their cases (a Pentax MZ-50 with a 28 to 80 mm zoom and a Samsung Evoca panorama), were hanging by the straps on a branch. Next to them, on the same branch, was a bikini top and bottom, sometimes swaying with the light breeze and strangely resembling a sort of clothesline - a "line" that they never planned to see again. In addition, we found a roll of film, a small waterlogged tourist book called "The Best of Oahu," two bus schedules, an old towel, an old hat, water bottles (plastic Coke bottles), and some sun screen lotion. (The towel and hat looked like they may have been there before the girls arrived.) It was eerie to be there, thinking of the length of time that Anitta and Marianne had spent together there. Imagine what it must have been like, day after day, hour after hour, for 8 days, in a place so small!

I climbed down below the tree about 20 feet or so, looking for other items and noticed that the black cable had been pulled up to the tree, the one that Pat had written up as a "combo" with the orange cord. So a word of warning for any of you "nut cases" (Dayle's words) that will be attempting a climb up that SE ridge: the "orange cord/black cable combo" and the "belt shaped rope" that was higher up are NO MORE! They're gone! And believe us, it was a tough climb for us WITH the use of the ropes!

It took about 45 minutes to an hour to regain the summit, much of the time using handfuls of clidemia to pull ourselves up. We all agreed that it was truly amazing that the girls had enough energy to make it back up to the summit, carrying the cord and the belt shaped rope in their backpacks,and then to climb all the way down the Kahana side cables and ropes after having virtually no food for 7 days!

Anyway, the reason we returned was that the story seemed so incomplete. We needed to make it to where they stayed and to actually see why they had not attempted to get out of there. And though it isn't completely over yet (I'm going to send the items back to them), I for one had to see where they had been - I couldn't rest until I did. Ken said something similar as we all relaxed back at the cars. What a story.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dayle K. Turner [mailto:turner@hawaii.edu]
> Sent: Monday, August 30, 1999 7:37 AM
> Subject: Re: Puzzling

> The mystery has been solved.  The girls spent most of their time on 
> the SE ridge of the mountain, the gnarly route Pat reopened.
> We first figured that out via an orange cable the girls had untied 
> and had with them when they were rescued.  While there was no orange
> cable on the regular route to the top there was plenty on the SE ridge!
> Clinching the deal was a phone call Jim Pushaw made to the girls 
> yesterday (Sunday).  After questioning one of the girls, Jim found out
> the duo had indeed been hunkered down on the SE ridge and had left
> their cameras  (2) and a few other personal effects hanging on a tree
> on the ridge.
> No wonder Jim and I found no trace on Saturday. We had given thought 
> to exploring down SE ridge but at the time dismissed that thought, 
> thinking  the girls wouldn't go down there.  It was only later that I
> made the connection with the orange cable and the lack of signs of
> their presence during our Saturday search.
> Jim and Ken Suzuki plan to retrieve the cameras and other effects
> tomorrow (Tuesday).
> --Dayle

Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle