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Friday, September 28, 2001

Lanihuli via Pali Puka -- Stan Yamada (2001)

Have you ever wondered if that $8.00 coil of rope you bought from the hardware store could save you in a fall? If I'm not a spirit right now, the answer is yes.

Since scoping out the Lanihuli trail a few days ago I have been manic, wanting to get up there and see some more. For many reasons: it's beautiful, it's easy to get to, it's deserted, and it's very difficult. I got done early with what I had to do today so I could re-visit the world of the great Professor. I was dropped off around 1:00 and hoofed it up to the puka. Spotted some semi-fresh pig dung on the trail near the parking lot. I took off my pack and laid on my back to study the overhang. Sure looks doable if the rock was good. Started to feel sick from the moving clouds above the mountain and had to take a break. So I stared at the Pali notch area on the other side of the gap and wondered why on earth I ever thought I could climb that thing. Must be a flashback from my urban hippie days. MAYBE you could cross over and try it from the other ridge. I still plan to look at it up close, but I really doubt that it's doable without a top rope. Sanity has prevailed.

I was planning to do some trail work so I got out my rain pants and gaiters. Whoooosh! Off went my pants riding the wind like a box kite, inflated like a Macy's Parade balloon. I watched as it took a turn to the left and out of sight. A bad omen? Later I would see it on a bush around the corner, but I forgot to pick it up on my way out (dark already).

I entered the access trail and left it wild near the opening. Around the corner I got out my hand loppers (couldn't find my machete at home) and started clearing what I could with that. Looks like a semi-real trail now. Took a little over an hour to go maybe 25 yards. Got a blister for my trouble. Have to go back and get some low bunji sticks with a saw. I located a better contour below that black rock area. I had taken the high road the last time. Lower down, and very over grown, is an old pig trail (or something), which looks good now that it's cleared out. Another hour perhaps. I got to the stream bed and hung another length of white nylon 5mm cord to a tree to mark the up trail point. The pig trail sort of peters out there in a thick bed of low lying green vines.

I took the swath up following my previous path. When I got to the brown theater area, I hung a right to cross over to the other side of the theater since I knew that there would be a good way up that way due to my skateboard ride down the other day. Sure enough, it was a lot easier than going through the dense branches in the streambed. A tree just where you need it all the way up. I got to the last pitch which could use a rope as it is very slippery and hard to get up elegantly. Enjoyed the vista and turned my attention to the task at hand. What an awesome mountain it is. So as not to be redundant, let's just assume that the entire way up is on a narrow ridge line with sheer drop offs to both sides. On the windward side, green grass and the occasional shrub on the way down. On the leeward side, trees, grass and shrubs. Very windy with strong 40-50 mph gusts today. Great for kite or pants flying!

I took off up the trail toward the next ridge where I quit last time. Stopped and took another gander at the trail from this promontory. Not as awestruck as I was the last time, I can see that it will be a piece of work to get up, but my mind told me that it was indeed possible. One step at a time. The way down gets your attention as it is steep, narrow, and comprised of loose dirt interspersed with the odd rock. I'll probably hang a cable there for getting back up. I worked my way over to the next vertical obstacle. Stiff climb up to the face which is fronted by a dirt/sparsely vegetated porch. I tried to climb that porch and was stymied by the loose dirt and lack of any good hand holds. I had to do the stomach/inch worm shuffle up that thing and slid back down several times. The dirt and the plant life on this trail is very loose and weak. Anything less than an inch in diameter will break in your hand. And even some of those. You can't trust the clidemia since a lot of times the soil won't hold the roots. Large bulks of dirt and an extensive root system will often come up with the slightest tug. Not good.

On top of the porch is a narrow dirt ledge and beyond that a good, hard rock, slightly overhanging face about 15 feet high. The ledge contours around to the left and I can see that the slope is better there. With what I had just gone through on my mind (I had to take a break to get my composure back after that ordeal), I decided to remove my pack for easier climbing. I got out my cheap 1/2" nylon hardware store rope (was 50', now around 45'), and attached one end to a D carabiner clipped to a leather patch sewn onto the back of the Outdoor Products daypack I use. The other end I tied to my left wrist. I slabbed around to the left past a guava tree and found a weakness where it looked easy to get up. Up I went. Oops, this is really loose dirt and the clidemia won't hold! It's just a few feet up, how can this be? It looked so easy. I am in real trouble as I begin sliding backwards.

Random thoughts jet through my mind. Ledge below, just land right. Panic! Grab something you fool! Legs probably flail in terror (don't remember though, but that seems likely). I hit the dirt ledge, and guess what? Just as weak and crumbly as everything else here. Back I go off the cliff facing the blue eternity above. Time stood still. I was like that feather in "Forrest Gump" just floating in the breeze. No panic, no fear, just a dude looking up at the sky. The body is an amazing thing. I was protected from fear and just lay back waiting for the hit. An eternity later I felt a bump on my left side. One bounce. Caught air again. Feather fluttering willy nilly. I actually think, "ooh, not too bad". I hit again flat on my back, grass this time, and rapidly begin sliding down the steep embankment. Suddenly I come to a halt, my left wrist high over my head like a volunteering student with the right answer. I look up and my pack was snagged on that beautiful guava tree. I look down and it is sure death. Another cliff and drop off below.

I'm sort of in shock now and can't think straight. Luckily, I am self-aware and know this. My left shoe is half-way off my foot. I am still hanging by my left wrist and can't get up to give myself some slack. The hill is covered in slippery grass and it's too steep. I fear sliding down the rest of the way if I remove the rope, but I need to fix my shoe damn it! I crawl up a foot or two to ease the tension on my wrist. I can't untie the knot. It's too tight. I am fumble fingered to boot. I lie back and take five, heels dug in. Breath. Concentrate. Focus. Relax. Years ago I trained in and studied Aikido with the Pearl City Aiki Kai and still read books on the subject because it is so fascinating. Aikido: the way of peace, love, and harmony. I draw upon that knowledge now. After a respite I use my teeth to untie that beautiful knot and fix my shoes. Then I use the rope to stabilize myself enough to smear my way over to the side and safety. Thank you Sensei Morihei. Domo Arigato!

It's a miracle, but I am relatively unharmed. Multiple minor abrasions on my left flank and other skin breaks here and there. Nothing broken. Even my wrist is fine with no functional impairment. Feels bruised now, but that's it. I am not really surprised as I take violent spills all the time mountain biking. Much worse than this and at high speed, right into trees and down cliffs. Of course, I'm wearing a helmet and body armor usually, but the hurt is much worse. Never broke a bone that way. I've also gone off various cliffs before. Manana, upper Waahila, Aiea Loop, Maunawili Demo, to name a few. Watch those edges!

On my way back to the side I saw a contour trail around the knob to the left. Cool. I regained my composure and made sure I was ok. I timidly, using the rope, climbed up to where my pack was located and retrieved it. I tied some loops in the rope, slung it around my favorite guava tree in the world and rappeled down to safety. Performed some first aid by cleaning the major scratches with my emergency 20 oz. Platypus water bag (too chicken to use the alcohol swabs), applied some triple antibiotic cream and downed two extra strength ibuprofen tablets. Couldn't retrieve my rope as it was hung up again and I decided to leave it for another day. It's good there for whomever wants to get to that shelf, it's just not anchored properly. I'll fix it next time.

Back to my normal self, and feeling good, I tooke the contour trail I had seen earlier. It's a pig trail I guess, but it goes right around to my ultimate goal. I was too revved to do trail work so I just bulldozed through the thicket and tangles. Clear trail below the brush and it was easy to follow. I worked my way around to another semi-dry water chute. Marked the up turn with white cord and climbed up. Again, hand holds appear as you need them, but it is a very stiff climb. Ropes would help again in this portion for some, especially at the very top where I have to perform acrobatic maneuvers to get up. Before I got there though I happened upon an upper contour trail coming from the east where I had just come from. I took that trail, stepped over some pig droppings, and emerged about ten feet from the rope and my favorite guava tree. I was too chicken to go over that loose ledge to get it so I left it there.

Got back to the exit point and swung myself up with my arms and legs. Whoa! Another gorgeous sight to behold. I'm now sitting on dried up thick moss on a ledge about a foot wide, if that. My feet are dangling over the windward side. There is a steep, but not too bad, slope here so the fear factor is not that great, plus the wind pushes you back. I marked this spot with the cord and headed on up very carefully. Another drop down on a narrow ridge and up again. Hard rock climb. Very nice and fun to do. This is a narrow ridge. As narrow as it gets. I am somewhat concerned about the descent, but the rock is good so I put that out of my mind. I got to the top and enjoyed a great view of the remaining trail. My mistake. Ridges can get even narrower. The next one is dirt too. This baby is a test. I have learned my lesson though. There is a contour there. I know it. But not today. It's about 5:30 and darkness will be here shortly. I am at least two hours from the top at my current rate, which is very slow due to the difficulty. The clouds lift for me. The rest of the trail, after this second pyramid, "appears" safe. The top-down photo taken by Pete tells me it should be. I just sit there a while calculating that it will take two hours to get down Alewa or Moole from the top if I try to press on. No way. Can't do that kind of trail in the dark. I've never done it in the day. Only read the tales. Next time, all the way. Come back down the same way too I think. I've found and marked the by-pass contours.

I retreat and carefully get back down the narrow dike. At first I wear my pack in the front so I can crab down, but it doesn't work. I go down facing the rock very slowly. On another day, without the fall, it would not be as scary. I got over to that dirt ridge again and had deja vu with the slippery slope. I used the breathing technique to relax myself and raised up a little to get a better angle for friction. Up I went with no problem from there. Went down the way I came, plowing the thick under growth with my 165 pound butt sledge. Near the brown theater I saw what looked like two machete cuts in a tree. Wasn't me. I guess I could have done it with my trail runners coming down, but I doubt it. Anybody out there checking this trail out? Hope so. I visited my rope again thinking that my further exploits had given me some guts. Nope.

Climbed up to the dike above the puka and nearly got knocked over by the wind there. Bad luck day...almost. Went right by my pants stuck in the bushes and got down in the dark at about 6:45. Talked story with some 20 somethings playing in the wind. They said they watched my light coming down the hill. "Boy, you came down fast!" They didn't see me sliding down on the okole. Hehehe. I asked for a lift and they agreed. They were heading for Ala Moana Shopping Center next. Good karma for me.

Watch out mountain, here I come.

sy 9/27/01 (stanboy50@hotmail.com)

Monday, September 24, 2001

Pali Dip Trip (Pali Puka and Pali Notches --2001)

From:Stanley Yamada 
Reply-To: ohe-l@hawaii.edu
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 23:54:02 -1000 

Finally got up to the Lookout for an exploratory of the Pali Notches on one side and Lanihuli prayer on the other. Couldn't persuade No. 1 son to join me so he just dropped me off near the trailhead around 3:30.

I sped up the trail next to a sign warning me not to rappel. OK I won't. At a junction I took a narrow trail left toward the ridge. The trail continues straight up for those not wanting to look over the edge at the highway below. To me, it's way more dangerous the "safe" way as I'll explain later. I kept to the ridge line despite contouring routes which appeared every so often. The rock is amazingly good and the lee side is well protected with lush vegetation for safety. This is a great climb to try if you want the thrill of ridge climbing without the danger. Powerful wind gusts pushing you alee also helps in the confidence department. Just don't get caught leaning left if the wind suddenly dies out!

Soon a vertical rock face appeared, but there is a clear contour to the right. I went straight up. The rock is hard and a joy to climb. Got to the notches and the top of the second "molar" without incident. When attempting to drop down off the second tooth though, it appeared to be an overhang. Lots of placements, but too dicey to try on my own. Never take unnecessary chances when out alone. I had rope and all, but I could see the upcoming face clear enough so I just sat there awhile studying the problem.

The more I looked, the more I was convinced it was doable free solo. IF the rock is hard like below and IF it isn't an overhang. Don't think it is as I studied it coming up the road. Just steep. It actually looks about the same as the ridge I had just climbed with zero problem, only shorter. The major difference is the lack of vegetation alee and the ridge looks more razor edge. There appears to be a possible contour route too. The decision to try it will have to await No. 1 son's whim. I give it a green light.

I debated whether I should try to go farther by removing my pack, but decided against it. I climbed back down and explored possible contours around the second tooth on both sides. Possibilities, but I didn't push it. Took the "safe" route down and couldn't believe anyone would want to go that way. Very steep, loose soil, leaves, uneven. The type that makes you slip, trip and fall. One metal wire and a thin rope is placed, but you better have gloves. It's a twisted ankle waiting to happen if you ask me.

I emerged to the dismay of tourists at the lookout and crossed over to the north end of the parking lot. Found the hole in the bamboo forest and enjoyed a delightful trail heading up. I could hike all day on a trail like this, assuming I get a view like I got at the top. Stupendous is too tame a word for it. Sheer Pali with the freshest air you can imagine whipping up into your face. Green, green, green all the way down the slope with sheer rock faces above and to the sides. I gazed down at Koolau Golf Course and Pali Golf Course. Sight of many personal humiliations and triumphs alike (ace at Pali no. 15).

I tore myself away knowing more was in store ahead. Proceeded to climb along the ridgeline, sometimes bailing to the left when an obvious trail presented itself and the ridge looked dicey. The wind was really whipping here and it made me nervous although I was never in any danger. After a nice climb I got to the puka and the problem face. The face seems to be a hundred feet high, though you can't tell because it overhangs about 10 degrees (as viewed from the side). It has a lot of character and placements. The problem is it isn't good rock. I attempted to climb the lower part and the rock came loose in my hand. Not a lot, just enough to know that you don't want to be 50 feet up and hanging by your fingertips from it. It is very exposed on both sides. Even if you top rope it, the overhang will pull you away from the wall. Unless you can lower or pull yourself up with your arms for a hundred feet, top rope won't help (fancy self-belay device might work or a dyno prusik knot and a few hundred dollars worth of climbing rope!). No, this wall needs real rock climbing protection. The crumbly rock makes that problematic. It's climbable, but you should have protection for the inevitable fall.

So I looked for the contour route to the left and using my "trail eye" I found a hole in the canopy. It's either a pig trail or the thin remains of a long lost tramper's traverse. Basically, it looks like a narrow terrace separating one layer of rock from the next. Hardy trees line the path and I bushwhack along a sheer, but well vegetated wall. Found a shallow cave lined with moss. Sometimes I actually ducked down to see what's below for the path of least resistance. Staying just right of the tree line, I eventually got to a spur and climbed up it toward a black rock face. I tried to climb that, but gave up when it proved to be too tough for today and above it looked tougher. I spied a "weakness" to the left so I slabbed over that way. It is a small crease in the hill with a rocky dry streambed down the center. I took that route up and came upon a brown faced mini-amphitheater on the right. Looks like the site of a small waterfall when flowing. I went over just to say I was there and sat facing east looking directly down upon the road exiting the Lookout which merges with Windward headed traffic.

Rest time over, I went back to the other streambed and continued up. This part was very difficult as the hill was steep, lots of branches and brush in the way and sticky vines grabbing every part of my body. I just bulldozed through sacrificing the old body for science. I was having a ball. Turned out that I had been pulling myself up the branches of a felled tree. I could see a ridgeline above me and thought it was a spur leading to the main ridge I had left behind. The last 30 feet to the top was a grab-a-piece-of-grass and slither up type climb. I pulled myself up and over to look at a sheer thousand foot drop on the other side! This was the ridge! I had made it to the saddle between the pyramidal first knob and the summit. Wow. And I thought the other view was good. Awesome and you gotta see it up close and personal is all I can say. The ridge here is very narrow but due to the wind pushing you back to the safe side, not scary at all. It's all soft grass and shrubs down below on the lee side, steep though so no picnic if you do fall. Heck, if you're chicken you can just lay there with your head over the edge and your body on the safe side.

I climbed up the east ridge to look at the overhang from the top. Razor edge trail, but well protected with shrubbery to the right. I got to the top of the world and found that I would have to descend to see over the edge, if it's even possible due to the overhang. Nixed that idea, too risky for solo approach. Noted though that the top has lots of trees to hang a rope off of if need be. Stood there in all my glory and watched as a bug-like helicopter flew through the gap headed toward town. I had seen the same craft flying the other way a little while earlier while relaxing in the brown theater.

So I turned my attention to Lanihuli and climbed down, then across the saddle and up the ridge on the other side. Easy climbing again, similar to the trail coming up along the ridge below. I got to the top of that false summit and looked down. Nothing to it from here. Clear swath down and up to what looks like the summit from there, but who knows? In my mind, this is a done deal. Just have to bypass that nasty steep is all. Does that still count I wonder? Heck yeah I answer myself. I must add that from this vantage point the crossover from Pu'u Kahuauli looks really cool and inviting. Lanihuli Windward also looks doable due to an apparent contour around the worst part which is evident from here. Of course, things could change when actually confronted with it.

I had to tear myself away from this heaven-like beautiful scene since daylight was getting short. I tied a white nylon string to a branch just below the ridge to mark the trail down if anyone comes down from the top. Should be able to find it from this description though. I proceeded down using my modified skateboard technique. Sit on my right heel with my left leg extended out slightly bent (to avoid injury). Surf/skate down on my flat feet using my heels to stop along with anything my little gloved hands can grab. Slid right down and through all that grass, weeds and vines. Half way down I sensed, wrongly, that I needed to head left more. Luckily I stopped just shy of a drop off on the wrong side of the brown waterfall theater. Sixth sense saved me there. I crawled back to where I should have been and stumbled my way back along the sheer contour trail. Got back to the puka and proceeded right along the ridge.

I crab crawled my way back down until I could descend in a less ridiculous posture. When I entered the canopy on the final leg down to the parking lot it was too dark to see. Goody goody, I get to play with my new toy. Tried to find my Petzl Zipka LCD headlamp in my pack, but it's so small (size and weight of one D cell battery). I couldn't find it! I had forgotten that I tucked it in my rain pants for padding. Ended up dumping out my pack to find it and had to use it to gather up my goods. Works anyway. Works really well in fact. Perfect for hiking. So light you can barely feel it on your head. Solid fit and feel. I recommend it. I even jogged with them on and they remained solid.

So I got down and crossed over to head down the hill on the Maunawili Trail, or whatever they call it from there. Got to the hairpin turn parking lot in due course and injured myself hopping over to the outside of the guardrail for protection. Rats! All that core climbing and bushwhacking almost without a scratch and I skin my knee on the guard rail. Babooze my mother would say. Walked down to the bus stop and caught the 57 to Ala Moana Shopping Center. Walked up Keeaumoku and home from there and arrived at about 8:30 p.m.

All in all, an afternoon romp to remember.

sky 9/24/01

Sunday, September 9, 2001

Piliwale Ridge -- Stan Yamada (2001)

Remind me never to do this climb again. The benefits do not outweigh the burdens. A lot of the problems were self-created. We got off to a late start, didn't fuel up properly beforehand, and underestimated the difficult trail conditions. Normally not a problem with the usual trail. With this trail, they combined to kick my ass.

Piliwale is the ridge connecting Maunawili Valley on the Windward side with the summit of Konahuanui (3150 ft.), apex of the Koolau range. There was not much beta available for this climb. Jason Sunada's account of his trip up and down the trail last year was sketchy on details, and I now understand why. This is a long and difficult trip up and the numerous outcroppings and meanderings get confusing fast for anyone intent on trying to memorize a path to the top.

We parked at the hairpin turn lot, the bad luck car now stripped of anything of value. Passed three women intent on doing the entire Maunawili trail with one one-liter water bottle in sight. On our way to the turnoff up the ridge we ran into two Peahens casually strolling along the trail (a few years ago I followed a large walking bird of some sort on this trail--brown, chicken sized, unafraid of me). The hens would swing their heads back and forth as they walked as if looking for something. We just trailed about ten feet behind them. They ignored us. After about a hundred yards they took a side mauka trail and stopped to look at us about ten feet up the trail. We looked at each other laughed and continued on, the hens turned, perhaps relieved that we had a different destination, and went on their way.

We found the trailhead up the slope and commenced a nice stiff climb. Adam startled a pig and it jumped off the trail with a loud splash and zoomed off diagonally down the hill. We could hear it plowing through the brush and it was gone.

I always start slow until I get my second wind and this day was no exception. I was nicely warmed up by the time we got to the notch and was ready. At this point some have written of having to jump across a gap to proceed. I have no idea how or why that would be done as there is a perfectly good contour down and around this section on the left. Once you cross to the other side you have to climb a short steep (I think there's a cable) to regain the trail.

While attempting the steep, a branch that I was using as a handhold broke. There is some exposure here so when it broke, and my brain told me a fall was imminent, I immediately turned, looked down, and assessed that below me were two rock outcroppings. One, a couple of feet down, was big enough for one foot, a larger one a few feet below that could hold both feet. I fell, tapped the first rock with my left foot and nudged myself over toward the bigger rock. Landed on-target with both feet, totally relieved and shaken to the bone. This fall affected the rest of the climb as I was thereafter tentative and nervous. Not good. Confidence is the key factor in doing most anything of this nature. Something I now lacked.

After gathering myself we continued on. I think we got to the spot that seemed to give previous hikers pause. We just climbed right on up so we aren't sure where the spot is. I guess last week's Bear Claw experience made this face seem doable. Confidence. This starts the middle steep section of the climb. This area has the worst rotten rock I've ever encountered in one spot. After my previous fall I was extrasuperespecially careful going up. This made the going very slow for me. I'd try several options for each crux area before proceeding. Adam just climbed straight up the ridge full of confidence. Soon I was far behind and communicating with him via our Cobras (great asset on this climb). So the lesson here is that it is doable easily (relative term) if you have confidence, but it's a bear if you don't. More often than not, straight up the ridge is best. That is where the best rock is located. I kept getting sidetracked looking for easier routes to bail on, but that was a giant waste of time (but sometimes there is a route so look anyway if you're scared of the ridge and the exposure).

The rock all the way up was very weak and brittle. I dislodged so many and had so many close calls, I shudder to think about them now. I used every rock climbing technique I know to get up due to my circuitous route. It seemed like I would get stymied at each outcropping, struggle up, then rest to get myself back in gear (stress is very tiring). There are a couple of cables on the way up and they were good as of yesterday. After what seemed like an eternity because of my mental strain, you reach a point where the vegetation takes over. I carved a notch in a tree to mark my passage. I don't know its name, but one hardy species with spear-like leaves makes the going possible in this section. Even one or two leaves would be enough of a handhold to get you up and over a ledge.

In one spot I tried contouring left around an outcropping as it looked easy and a path seemed to go there. Unfortunately, the ground cover hid a drop off and no foot placements. I was stuck under an exposed overhang with barely a foothold and just leaves to hold for security. After fiddling (read: flailing) around for a few minutes, consulting with Adam as to his route up (no help-he was too far up and couldn't recall the spot), I managed to maneuver myself so that I was sitting, back to the wall, on top of a large clump of grass...very tough grass. Severe drop off below, but other clumps of grass sticking out of the wall just below me. I took a moment to contemplate what sort of person would find himself in this position. Dummy comes to mind. Great view though.

I ever-so-slowly eased myself down off the clump by moving my hips forward. I managed to get good footholds on the lower clumps and got back to safety. Around to the right was an easy way up. Grrrr.

The upper part of the climb is well protected with plants, but is very very rough. The going was super slow for me and my legs were getting hashed even with high gaiters on. I didn't think to wear my rain pants until I was nearly to the top (fatigue causes brain farts). It doesn't look like anyone ever uses this trail and I don't know how Jason did it in 3 hours. Outstanding. It's possible I guess if the trail is clear, but overgrown and dense, not to mention steep, and it was a slow slog for me. I kept wishing I had worn my full blown downhill mountain biking armor. Adam reached the ridgeline at least an hour before I did. Large beehive there at the clearing. They weren't aggressive and they took to hiding in the grass when it started raining.

That reminds me, we were in whiteout conditions during the top third of the climb ruining the views. Trail got very muddy. Had to climb over, through, under, around, aside, and combinations of the above to get by the thick vegetation...mostly in the vertical plane. The few dikes we did cross were all overgrown. Thick, foot thick, moss clung to branches and sheeted across the ground in clumps. I was very discouraged in this section and extremely tired fighting the greenery (beautiful flowers though) in addition to climbing. I did not want to go back down this path although that was the original plan. I was terrified of the loose rock going down and I only had one rope.

I attained the ridge and stumbled upon Adam who had been waiting over an hour. He was huddled under a tree cuddling himself and wearing the $1.50 poncho I gave him last week on the Claw. Shoulda packed a jacket like Dad.

From here we were unsure where to go. Couldn't see a thing and neither one of us had been this far up before. I had been exploring the Konahuanui Trail from town side, but for various reasons never summited. I had only gotten to the middle section of the last mud slot part of the trail. I knew if we could locate that, we were home free as I was not about to go back down Piliwale and darkness was approaching. We just followed the obvious trail to K1 and on down the mountain.

We passed the Castle/Olympus trail crossover which is apparent coming down from the summit. I had explored this trail a little last week and found it coming up from the Nuuanu side. The Manoa side is unclear and very steep. You can bypass the steep climb from the lookout if that contour is opened up.

By the time we reached the puu with the pipe, it was dark. I had a Photon on my lanyard and a headlamp in the pack so we negotiated the Makiki-Tantalus trails with no problem. Caught a ride down the hill from a good samaritan and retrieved the bad luck car with a ride from a friend. Took me five hours to summit with many detours, rest stops and cusses.

The Bear Claw climb was exhilarating, exciting, stupendous, beautiful, fun and the best. This climb was tough, scary, dangerous, tiring and not worth it. I'm glad I did it though. I probably would have a different opinion had I not fallen early, but I doubt it. Even Adam said he would not want to do it again, but he wore shorts with no gaiters and his legs were in bad shape.

After the Claw, we jogged down Kuliouou deliriously happy and full of pep and energy, running on the adrenaline and endorphin high. A week later we still talk about it excitedly. After Piliwale, we were whipped and tired; just relieved it was over. I think the white out robbed us of the views and payoff a climb like that demands. I would gladly do the Claw again, but not Piliwale. That having been said, if you are a climber now is the time to do it since we bulldozed a somewhat usable trail through the thicket. Won't last long though. Do it before the year's out to celebrate Silver Piliwale's hundredth birthday.

sky 9/9/01 (stanboy50@hotmail.com)