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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Upper Sacred Falls

Photo by Nathan Yuen
In early December 2010, a group of five which included extreme hikers Pete Clines, August Smith, and Nathan Yuen, hiked up the Papali Ridge extended trail, down the Castle Trail, and then down Kaluanui Stream to down-climb several waterfalls.

Nathan Yuen filed this report on his blog.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hihimanu by Peter Artley

Photo by volcantrek 8/waialeale.org
Hike date: May 2006

I figured it was going to be relatively easy to summit the shortest mountain in Hanalei Valley. The elevation is only about 2400 feet and it took less than an hour to hike the first two miles, even if it was a bit steep at times. I didn't realize how totally crazy the trail to the summit is though. The first indication that only the extremely brave, or insane, should attempt this "hike" was when i came upon a rope descending through dense brush on a knife-edge ridge. Without a second thought i snatched the rope off of the ground and began the precarious descent, facing forward (i.e. down-hill.) The rope was obviously weather worn, but despite the signs that it had seen several rainy seasons it seemed sturdy enough to hold my weight, and did. Even when i tripped and caught myself while walking that first section of densely covered "trail" i didn't have the slightest intention of turning back.

I came to a second rope only after thinking myself lost but continuing on with the knowledge that i was at least going in the right direction. I was glad for this rope on the one hand because i could see that it was newer than the last one, which meant that people actually came out here frequently enough to warrant the occasional fresh rope. It occurred to me, however, that i didn't know the last time the older looking ropes had been changed. This became more of a concern the more ropes i came across only because the further i got the worse condition the ropes were in. This culminated in the most ridiculous slope i'd ever seen on any hiking trail ever. Almost immediately after i'd conquered that obvious landslide, i discovered a slope more ridiculous still. The rope coming down this nearly 100 foot cliff was so badly weather worn that when i grabbed it i didn't even have to squeeze for it to severely sting the palms of my bare hands. I wish i'd had a bullet to bite, or better yet some gloves! I stood there for a moment, the rope digging into my already tender hands, and peered almost straight up the side of this mountain completely covered with vegetation trying to make out the top of the rope and discern whether it was securely attached to something that would hold my weight. I gave it a little tug thinking to myself, "am i really this insane?" Then, "screw it" and began to climb.

Having experienced a number of these ropes already that day i concentrated on establishing my footholds and only used the rope as a guide, relying more on the small treesand shrubs to help me climb the crumbling slope. After about 20 feet or so i came to a section of "trail" completely devoid of any trees or strong bushes to grab on to, i would have to use the rope. I leaned into the mountain as much as possible, letting go of the safe solid tree i was holding onto with my right hand and transferring it to the rope. This meant putting most of my weight onto that poor rope in order to get my left leg up to the next foothold. The rope stretched like a long bungee cord. I fell towards the mountain as quickly as possible releasing the tension on the rope so as not to snap it and hugged that mountain like a best friend thought lost forever. Ten seconds later my heart started beating again. I erected myself using the rope as leverage to see if it would still hold, and it did. Again i stood on the edge of a precarious slope. I listened to the wind in the trees and the birds all around me and thought hard about how crazy i really am. I looked up that slope one last time and said to the mountain, "i'm crazy, but not stupid." and turned right around and went back the way i came.

Photo by volcantrek8

Kauai has a lot to offer in the way of hiking. Some of these hikes have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, like from Hihimanu. But i would never suggest to anyone that they attempt this trail alone, if at all. Go hike the Kalalau trail 11 miles one way spend the night and hike it back. Or hook up with an eco-tour company and do the 10 mile Power line trail over some of the most rain beaten terrain found in the world. You'll see equally beautiful scenery, and in some cases even have your life threatened by extreme trail conditions, but you won't be in nearly as stupid a situation as i was when i hiked Hihimanu by myself in May 2006.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mariner's Ridge Windward -- Pat Rorie

Hike date:  2 April 2003
Definitely one of the more memorable pau hana hikes I've done in recent years.For subscribers of OHE-L who aren't aware, during the past few years some of us on this list have been searching for do-able windward Ko'olau ridges as counterparts to prominent leeward Ko'olau trails. A few of these trans-Ko'olau routes have existed for decades (i.e. Schofield-Waikane, Kawailoa-Laie, and Haiku Stairs Moanalua Valley middle ridge). The late Silver Piliwale pioneered Piliwale Ridge (aka Windward Konahuanui, the narly ridge visible as one drives along the Pali Hwy hairpin turn), which Jason Sunada, Pete Clines and I have climbed recently. Silver also blazed a trail up Kaupo Cliffs (part of the Kaupo Cliffs-Kamiloiki Ridge traverse). The Bear Claws-Pu'u o Kona-Kuliouou Ridge is another example of a trans-Ko'olau route; author unknown. A group of us established a trail on a ridge in Waiahole Valley dubbed Kipapa Windward because it tops out near the Kipapa Ridge summit, and Dayle and Ed Gilman were the first in recent times (ever?) to ascend a windward ridge that terminates near the apex of Mount Olympus.
Photo of Mariner's Windward by David Chatsuthiphan
In the past two months, led by Scott Villiger, Dayle, Ed, and Wing Ng, a small band of explorers have been mucking around the Ko'olau foothills in back of Waimanalo looking to ascend a windward ridge that tops out near Kaluanui Ridge (aka Mariner's Ridge). This past Saturday, Dayle, Scott and Ed were successful in climbing a windward spur to the Ko'olau summit, which terminates at a view of Hahaoine Valley, earning it the name Hahaione Windward. I couldn't remember reading about anyone trying the ridge directly windward of the Mariner's Ridge summit, so I decided to give it shot yesterday, pau hana.After departing my workplace on the outskirts of downtown Honolulu at 4 pm, I motored to the affluent O'ahu neighborhood of Hawaii Kai, proceeding in the pat-mobile to the top of Kaluanui Rd (approx. elev. 800'). Yesterday was a beauty weatherwise, an abundance of blue sky and sunshine, but steamy (light and variable winds).Following final preparations, I continued mauka on foot at 4:41 pm via the Mariner's Ridge Trail. Mariner's Ridge is the most easily accessible and shortest route to the Ko'olau summit (the route on Kamehame Ridge is actually a paved road, so I don't consider it a trail). With a limited amount of time for exploration, I set a brisk pace in order to reach the summit as soon as possible.At 5:05 pm I gained the crest of the Ko'olau Range (approx. elev. 1600'), but rather than descending directly from the Mariner's Ridge terminus, I headed west along the Ko'olau spine to a spot where I could drop down a short distance and then contour to the crest of Kaluanui Windward.Once on the spine of Kaluanui Windward, I carefully negotiated a couple of eroded rock outcroppings, and then methodically lost elevation, maneuvering between tall ironwoods in the process. I could clearly see sheer cliffs on adjacent flanks to east and west, so I expected to eventually reach a precipitous dropoff. Much to my surprise, however, I never did! Other than some brief exposed rock scrambling and slabbing a short distance between/under Christmas berry trees to regain the crest below a vegetated cliff, I did not encounter an impossibly steep rock face like the ones located on most of the adjacent flanks.After battling through Christmas berry, I followed the ridge down to the floor of the Waimanalo Forest Reserve, tying orange ribbon periodically to trees limbs to mark the route. When I arrived at the origin of the ridge (approx. elev. 320'), I tied two ribbons to a tree to indicate the spot. I scanned the forest briefly for any of Wing's ribbons, but did not see any and did not have time to search for them.At 6:19 pm I commenced the return leg of the outing, tying several more ribbons periodically to tree limbs on the way up Kaluanui Windward. As I approached the Ko'olau summit, I foolishly let my ego take over. Instead of using the contour route like I had done on the way down, I chose to ascend the steep, narrow pitch to Kaluanui's true summit. Initally, this was not a problem, but farther up I had trouble getting beyond a particular ledge. I looked on both sides for easier possibilities. Finding none, I simply made like an opihi, inching my way up from handhold/foothold to handhold/foothold, keeping my center of gravity as close to the ground as possible for maximum leverage (let the reader understand that a fall here probably would not have resulted in death, just serious injury).After ascending past the tight spot, I breathed a sigh of relief but with darkness setting in, I noticed another ironwood up ahead, followed by the final climb to the true summit. Definately a psychological blow."Is the final climb do-able?" I asked myself. There would be no turning back.In a near panic, I moved quickly toward the ironwood, but as I attempted to go around the tree, a Christmas berry limb slashed my right knee, inflicting a superficial but painful wound. Upon regaining my composure, I continued upward, and, fortunately, successfully negotiated the final steep pitch to Kaluanui's summit, reaching the Ko'olau crest at 7:15 pm in darkness. I rejoiced at having completed the tough ascent, and then began heading down the Mariner's Ridge Trail by flashlight.The tramp along Mariner's in the dark was quite pleasant, stars twinkling in the evening sky (I easily recognized Orion's belt, Orion's hunting dog and the Big Dipper), the lights of Hawaii Kai visible in the distance.
Eventually, I emerged from the trail onto Kaluanui Road, and after entering the pat-mobile, sped off for home at 7:45 pm.Notes:Native plants growing along Mariner's Ridge: 'ulei, laua'e ferns, a'ali'i, ko'oko'olau, 'ilima.== Paka

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oahu's Gnarliest Trails

Chris Walker

Here is Chris Walker's take on the most dangerous and daunting hikes on the island of Oahu. His top five include the KST, Pu'u Manamana, Pu'u Kalena, Pu'u Ka'aumakua, and Olomana.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lanihuli Windward

Submitted here is a photo of the probable route of Lanihuli Windward.

As of 2010, this route has not been traversed in a number of years. Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club veteran John Hall has done this with Chuck Godek. According to Hall, Godek was the lead climber, who would ascend, tie off a rope, then beckon Hall to follow. Using this grind-it-out-to-the-top method, they eventually acquired the summit. Year: unknown but probably in the 1950s or 60s.

The access would be from the Likeke Trail, mauka of the Koolau Golf Course.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's Hawaii's Toughest Hike?

National Geographic lists the Muliwai Trail as Hawaii's toughest. 

What's your choice for Hawaii's toughest hike?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pohakea Pass to Pu'u Kaua -- Lad Spinner

Hike date: January 2000

Today I went hiking in the Waianae range with four other folks, including my buddy Cleve Rich. Also hiking with us were Kawika Bew, Ming Ching, and Ming's friend Jean. We met at 8 at the Kunia Golf Course, then set off on the dirt roads thru the pineapple fields directly across Kunia Road from the golf course driveway.

We encountered pine field workers but they did not hassle us and we continued toward the mountain, following new/old jeep roads at times and wading through California grass at others.

Eventually we reached a spur ridge that climbed up toward the crest just to the right of Pohakea Pass. At the 1800 foot level (just got a new Casio Pathfinder altimeter watch), we hit the Honouliuli contour trail (HCT). Kawika and Cleve were ahead at this point and they missed the left turn they were supposed to make at the HCT. Instead, they kept climbing the spur ridge and, after some very steep climbing near the top, eventually reached the Waianae summit at 11 a.m. at a point between Kaua and Pohakea Pass.

Meanwhile, Ming, Jean, and I headed left along the HCT and eventually headed right and up toward the summit on an old jeep road that climbed up to Pohakea Pass. All this time, we thought Cleve and Kawika were ahead of us and when we reached the Pass at 11, we were surprised that there was no sign of them. Plus, as we hiked along, we noticed that spider webs across the trail were undisturbed, seeming to indicate that Cleve and Kawika hadn't come this same way.

Since it was still an hour before noon (and lunch), I decided to follow some old ribbons I saw that headed up the summit ridge in the direction of Kaua. About 60 meters up the ridge which was covered by ironwoods, I encountered a collapsed shed or hut, probably used by the military as and outpost years ago. Someone told me Pohakea Pass was the loneliest outpost on Oahu and that guards stationed there were known to freak out during midnight sentry duty. Yow!

Not far past the collapsed hut, I met up with a sheer vertical rockface that look much like monster teeth. Knowing I couldn't climb this face, I looked for an alternative and found a little contour trail on the right, probably made by goats. I contoured for maybe 60-70 meters and then found a steep hillside that I could go up with the aid of trees. Ming and Jean were behind me, and when Jean got nervous about going up the slope, they turned around and headed back down to the Pass.

So I climbed on alone, thinking that I'd make a go for Kaua. I yelled this fact down to Ming and Jean and I assume they heard me. So up I climbed, eventually gaining the summit ridge above the vertical rockface. The summit segment wasn't so bad at first, but then I reached some gnarly parts where I had to climb gingerly up and around rockfaces, semi-crawling in places.

Photo by Waianae Steve.
Pohakea Pass is at the top right of the photo,
which was taken near the summit of Pu'u Kaua.
When I reached a part where the summit leveled off, I saw Kawika and Cleve about 100 meters away on the summit in the direction of Kaua. At first I thought they had made it to that point the same way I was headed, but after yelling out to them and getting a reply, I found out they were coming toward me after having climbed the steep spur directly to the summit.

Getting to them was no picnic, and I had to be very careful so that I didn't go plunging off the crest. Kawika descended two dicey rockfaces to meet me and once he did, he reversed directions and headed back in the direction of Kaua. He also directed me up the best line for both rockfaces. After these, the summit wasn't so bad.

They had already eaten lunch but both were willing to wait till I had stopped and eaten mine (Vienna Sausage) before heading to Kaua. The views were super clear today and with overcast skies and a nice breeze, we hiked in relative comfort.

The section over to Kaua was super, view-wise and we decided to head down tree snail ridge instead of going all the way to Kaua and heading down that trail.

About ten minutes down tree snail ridge, we encountered a brand new fence that contours across the steep mountainside at around the 2500-2600 foot level. I'm not sure who is building the fence or why, but getting it constructed is a bust-gut feat involving hauling gear and materials up to the fenceline. Impressive.

We got offtrack on the way down but after 15 minutes of searching we found the trail again and made good time heading down.

When we hit the 1800 foot level and the HCT, we decided to head right instead of left toward the Kaua trailhead. We reckoned that we'd pick up the route we had used in the a.m. pretty quick-like, but that was a bad miscalculation, and we ended up crashing and thrashing around in thick vegetation and ducking and crawling under Christmas berry tangles. No joy.

With some persistence and occasional grunts uttered to no one in particular, we eventually found our way back to the pineapple field roads that led us back to the golf course. Kawika, Cleve, and I arrived there at 3:45 and were surprised to see Ming's car still there. Where were Ming and Jean?

I waited around for a half hour and then took off for home. When I got there, I found a message on my answering machine from Ming, who reported that he and Jean had gotten back to the golf course at 5:15.

They gone offtrack but eventually found their way.

This was a good hike and I'll sleep well tonight for sure.


** Lad **

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ohikilolo via Keaau Ridge -- Pat Rorie

Hike date: January 2000

"Winter is for the Wai'anaes" is a saying I have a firm belief in, and I enjoy hiking the Wai'anae Range (Leeward Coast) because of its stark contrast to the Ko'olaus - dry, rocky, open terrain vs. muddy, heavily vegetated territory.

Having sat around watching football games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons resting my left knee, I decided to venture out of my humble Waikele abode Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday) to visit one of my favorite locales on O'ahu, the Ohikilolo triangular peak. I've reached the triangular peak in the past via Ohikilolo Ridge (twice), Kea'au Ridge commencing from the region mauka of the former First Hawaiian Bank (FHB) rec center (three times), the entire Kea'au Ridge commencing from the Makaha surfing beach, but never via Kea'au Middle Ridge. Dayle Turner recently posted a very good route description of Kea'au Middle, so I'll skip the specifics unless deemed necessary for inclusion in this digest.

The Pat-mobile required some routine maintenance in the morning, so I got off to a late start arriving at the entrance to the former FHB rec center on Farrington Hwy (see pic below) a few minutes past 10 a.m. The trades had decreased to 10 to 25 mph from the gale force gusts of 20 to 35 on Saturday and Sunday making for a pleasant day on O'ahu's west end, ample sunshine with a cooling breeze. Unwilling to walk from the Makaha surfing beach about 1.5 miles away (a safer place to leave my car), I rolled the dice and parked on Farrington Hwy near the entrance to the former FHB rec center. As a precaution, however, I removed the computer chip that allows the vehicle to start, an option available on certain Honda cars/trucks, and placed a Wai'anae Surfrider baseball cap given to me by Wai'anae resident Lynn Agena on the steering wheel.

Following final preps, I walked around the fence (the gate was locked) and began tramping along the paved road (elev. 17 ft) at 10:15 a.m. Further ahead, while approaching the middle ridge along the dirt road, I studied Ohikilolo Ridge and experienced steamy conditions. During the initial ascent of Kea'au Middle I lost the trail and had to proceed by way of the path of least resistance. I climbed methodically through dryland forest and took a water break when the ridge leveled off. One of the highlights of the footpath at this point is its relative closeness to the sheer rocky cliffs of Ohikilolo Ridge. They appear but a stone's throw away across the gulch separating Ohikilolo Ridge and Kea'au Middle. The best comparison I can offer is the waterfall shoots found along the Ko'olaupoko Trail (front cover of Ball's "Hiker's Guide").

Photo by Nathan Yuen
Pressing on, I carefully negotiated the narrow dikes, bypassed the huge vertical rockface, regained the crest of the middle ridge and accomplished the final, very steep ascent to the summit of unnamed peak (elev. 2,952 ft) at 12:11 p.m. (less than two hours from car to summit!). (see pic below)

Photo by Nathan Yuen

Without pausing, I turned left (north) and gained pleasure from the excellent open ridge walking over another narrow dike. Descended to a place I call "Mars", a severly eroded area of red dirt with rock formations that look like the dorsal fins on a fish, and finished the descent to the saddle between unnamed peak and Ohikilolo Ridge at a spectacular rock formation (dike), the subject of a Hawaiian legend according to Fred Dodge. Next, I dropped down and contoured to the right of the dike on a goat trail then climbed steeply to the crest of Ohikilolo Ridge. Paused briefly at the fence to gaze at the lone, tall Norfolk Island pine which appears to be dying.

Heading east on Ohikilolo Ridge, I climbed to the top of the triangular peak (elev. 3,052 ft) arriving there at 12:43 p.m. Occasional gusts made the spot chilly, especially when thick high clouds obscured the sun. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the awesome panorama, featuring much of the Leeward Coast from Maili Point to Kaena Point, beautiful Makua Valley, the Waianae Range from Kuaokala Ridge to massive Mount Ka'ala (socked in) to Pu'u Kaua, the north shore, the Ko'olau foothills above Haleiwa, the northern Ko'olaus, lush, undeveloped upper Makaha Valley radiating from Ka'ala's western slope, and Kamaile'unu Ridge.

After about half an hour, I descended on the Ohikilolo Trail a short distance then contoured along a goat trail on the Makua Valley facing slope of the triangular peak, careful not to damage any rare native flora, in an attempt to explore beyond the normal terminus of the Ohikilolo Trail. Following a difficult scramble over a slick, eroded tract devoid of handholds, I reached the saddle between the triangular peak and the broad pu'u to the northeast. A dike with crumbly ledges perpendicular to the ridge formed a steep wall between the two peaks. Alone, lacking courage and the gusts fueled my decision to turn back. I regained the apex of the triangular peak subsequent to 2 p.m. and for about an hour took pleasure from the magnificent vista, one of the finest on O'ahu.

At 3:08 p.m. I reluctantly departed the special place. While descending to the saddle between Ohikilolo Ridge and unnamed peak, I notice a few goats below, including a light brown billy equipped with long horns and a lengthy "beard", and had fun throwing rocks at them. Once at the pinnacle of unnamed peak, I tied two "hot" pink ribbons to a nearby branch and stared down into Ohikilolo Valley, the whole of Ohikilolo Valley spread out before me! A short distance into the descent of Kea'au Middle, I halted upon recognizing a truck parked on the dirt road deep in the valley.

"One of Albert Silva's men?" I asked myself. "Perhaps I was spotted earlier in the day and assumed to be a poacher!"

Not in the mood to debate the fact that I entered the valley via State land and determined not to get busted, I turned around, climbed back up to the summit of unnamed peak and hiked on the Makaha Valley side of Kea'au Ridge (the ridge separating Makaha and Ohikilolo Valleys) as much as possible to avoid detection. During the long detour I recognized a lovely full rainbow over the saddle below the red eroded peak and, later, observed atleast two more partial rainbows, one in Makaha Valley and the other above Ohikilolo Valley. When I reached Pu'u Kea'au (elev. 2,650 ft) I descended on a spur originating near the former FHB rec center. En route to the valley floor I startled atleast three dozen goats including a handful of kids.

The sun set as I emerged from the koa haole forest onto the gravel road, and I jogged from there to the locked gate near Farrington Hwy. Fortunately, the Pat-mobile was still where I left it, undamaged by would-be vandals. At 6:18 p.m. I entered my vehicle and sped off for home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Awaawapuhi Extended

Awaawapuhi is a trail up in the Koke'e environs on Kauai. David Concepcion contributes this video about a trek out on a wild ridge that is an extension of the main trail. Not for the acrophobic!

See David's video here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bear Claw Ridge aka Pu'u o Kona Windward

This trail/climb/ascent is one of the legendary ones in the annals of Oahu hiking. Named "Bear Claw" because it has a similar appearance to the extended appendage of a huge grizzly, the ridge was climbed by HTMC daredevils of yesteryear and then conquered once again by Stan Yamada and son in the late 1990s.

Following the Yamada-ascent, a flurry of activity on Bear Claw ensued by host of intrepid HTMC types of more recent vintage. After that, activity on The Claw dropped to nil. That is until recently.

In 2009-2010, assaults on Bear Claw have been numerous, including ones by Andrew Bayang and friends, and Dave Concepcion and company, and Nathan Yuen and friends.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sacred Falls descent - Merlin Wollenzien

Well, I'm not quite sure just how to tell this story. The trip was the most phenomenal and exciting undertaking that any of us had attempted (at least for hiking/canyoneering). We put a great deal of time, planning and preparation into this activity to ensure it would be done as fail-safe as possible but, sometimes things happen that you're just not quite ready for. Seldomly, it's the unthinkable.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Star Trek Trail (Waianae) -- Waianae Steve

Photo by Waianae Steve

The Star Trek trail starts in Waianae Valley and climbs to crest of the Waianae Range between Kolekole Pass and Pu'u Kalena. The following account is provided by Waianae Steve.

"The story of this trail began while Dan and I were hiking on Hobb's ridge. I spotted what looked like a narrow valley cutting the Wai`anae Pali and thought 'Hey we might be able to do that!'"


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ahuimanu Uka -- Pete Clines

Photo by Oahuhiker

Hike date:  6 June 2010, Sunday
Since I had to work on Saturday (National Trails Day) I figured I would make up for it on Sunday by adding a fourth option to the Aiea trail network: a windward continuation.After months of putting it off, yesterday became the day for a summit attempt of this obscure windward ridge.  I had been looking for a new route on that side and spotted a ridge that begins behind Ahuimanu and climbs to a peak north/west of the Aiea Ridge terminus.  This ridge is fairly prominent, and is between "Ulupaina Uka" to the south and "Kalahaku Teeth" to the north.A little history:
My initial scouting trip began from a poor access point, but subsequent clearing trips began from an access point at the end of Heno Place - ~300 ft elevation where I parked, just down the road.  I believe this might be the access for the Ahuimanu trail that the Club uses to get to the waterfall.  I have never joined them for this one, but the trail is wide and well ribboned.After a several hours of exploration on my inital outing, I found that the much more subtle ridge just south (to the left) of the prominent one would be the way to go.  It already had a swath leading up a broad uluhe slope and it was closer to the trailhead.  (From the trailhead, you are on the main trail for less than 5 minutes before turning right on the "Uka" trail.  Look for my pink ribbons.)  The ridge I would decide on becomes quite steep - and exposed in places - but unlike the neighboring prominent ridge it did not have any notches.  My route would be a consistent uphill battle.My last two visits here - a few months back - were short trips to blast open the uluhe swath, hang ribbons through the valley section below it, and assess the exposed part I could see from the road below.  Machete work made me a nice corridor through the uluhe and I would have a more pleasant start on summit day. Whoever had been using this swath on the lower part of the ridge must have stopped shortly after the uluhe as I would not see any signs of trail or travel after ~800-900 ft elevation.  And not surprisingly.  It was around this elevation that the ridge narrowed considerably, and became a steep climb on very brittle rock using scattered "trumpet" trees as handholds.  Two prior visits ended at 900 ft when I was doubtful of further upward progress at one particular spot with no trees to grab.  This climb will make a monkey out of you as it involves a lot of upper body effort.Yesterday:
Loaded down with over 200 feet of strong rope, I hit the trailhead just before 9am.  It was cloudy up top, nice down below, and I thought I had a chance of the summit clearing up.  (Wrong.)  In roughly 45 minutes I was at my prior trouble spot at 900 ft.  Taking a chance (knew I had the rope in case I needed to get down) I was able to claw my way up to a higher spot.  Rocks were being dislodged, but I was confident that no one was in the impact-zone below.  I quickly reached a place that was even more tricky.  I tried to climb up the right side, but rotten rock and poorly rooted trees meant I would struggle for about 15 minutes.  Several times I would get near the next handhold...only to have something give way and send me sliding back down in a hurry.  One notable drop was about 10 feet, and I was lucky to catch the (only) trumpet tree with my left foot.  But I remained determined, and was eventually able to finesse my way to a more secure spot.A look to my left reassured me that I was making progress upwards.  It also remined me of why I was NOT climbing THOSE ridges.  Looked like Kalalau.  As I got higher still, I reached a spot where it leveled off momentarily and I could admire the views both left and right. On the right was the prominent ridge that I was paralleling.  You can see the second notch - the smaller and higher of the two notches - in this photo.  As I got higher, I would intercept this ridge, labeled as "Junction" on my last photo.
Photo by Pete Clines
After 1000 ft, I was on a short section that reminded me of the narrow dikes on the cemetary route to Manamana.  Higher still and I started to find myself in the clouds.  Bummer.  I would get no views - or photos - after about 1400 ft.  The exposure and danger of the ridge was now replaced by a very overgrown route and super-slow progress.  I was struggling to get me and my bulky pack through all the vegetation.  Blackberry and/or thimbleberry thorns were ravaging my forearms and even getting through my gloves.  I soon encountered an abrubt wall of uluhe, and the uphill climb continued to be slow as I alternately went through it or over it.  Again, no swath or hint of trail at all.A moment of satisfaction and relief occurred when I reached the junction of the ridge I was on and the more prominent ridge.  (I ribboned this spot heavily.)  The route uphill would be more gradual for a while, and though overgrown, I would get breaks where the growth was windswept and low to the ground.  Occassional clumps of trees on the ridgeline would force me to work around them, but the perceived danger level here was never great.  Possibly since I could not see how far the drops were.  Visibility was maybe 50 yards, and when I snapped a PHOTO of the trail behind me, I was frustratingly amused at how little I would see from this spectacular climb.  It was also cold and raining by this point, so getting to the summit was no longer for enjoyment and panoramic views.  It was "man vs wild."From prior observation of this ridge from up above at the Aiea terminus, I knew I was about to come upon the possible deal-breaker for this climb.  Labeled as "Sheer" on my last photo, I kept hoping this spot would not be a wall of rotten rock.  It is temptingly close to the top, and I could not see it coming as I was still in heavy cloud cover.  But all of a sudden, I saw the massive feature unveiled in front of me.  Eerie as it began to appear.  As I neared the base and the detail came out, I was pleased to see that there were some clumps of thick grass dotted along it.  No trees or bushes...and the footing was poor.  A fall would have been painful, so I clung to the wall for all I was worth and I managed to tug my way to the top.  Adrenaline pumping, I scrambled the last short stretch to the summit!  1:55pm.  2,450 ft by my measure.Surrounded by wind, rain, and clouds...I hollered loud at my achievement, then ribboned my top-out point and cleared a spot out of the wind on the leeward side to have my lunch.  At 2:15 I departed with the Aiea Ridge teminus as my next goal.  Terrible visibilty meant I would very briefly take two incorrect ridges en route (shown as yellow dots on my last photo.)  I realized just how easy someone could get turned around up in this remote part of the Koolaus in such poor weather.  But I was able to use my altimeter/compass watch....memory of the summit ridge as viewed from the Aiea terminus...and "KST Common Sense" meaning that if you aren't getting wind-blasted on one side of you body (in this case, my left) then you are on the wrong ridge.No ribbons en route ( I left some, though) and not much of a distinct trail, but the travel was relatively easy if I kept to the low growth on the windward lip of the ridge.  A powerline tower soon appeared out of the clouds - I figured this was halfway there - and I was soon climbing up to the Aiea summit.  2,700 ft on my watch and three red ribbons confirmed I was at my target.  3:00pm.With the grueling part of my day complete, I could relax knowing that I had only 6 more miles left on the wide open trail ahead of me.  I was also pleased that I would soon have company.  As planned, three of my best hiking buddies, August, Nate, and Nikolaj were doing the Halawa to Aiea hike.  We were to meet up at the Aiea summit.  Lobelia searching meant they would be delayed and I arrived at the meeting spot early.  I toughed it out at the actual summit clearing for a while, but waiting in the wind and rain sucked away my heat and I eventually moved down to the powerline towers just below to look for a windbreak and dry my clothes. 4:00pm I heard voices above me, and three familiar figures emerged from the clouds.  (PHOTO)We excitedly discussed our respective adventures....then began our search for better weather lower down the ridge.  Good conversation and a steady pace kept us warm as we all successfully completed our hikes.  Following a few short breaks - one was to re-direct a lost hiker and her two kids - we were all in the Aiea State Park lot at 7:00pm.  Nikolaj's wife (and beautiful baby girl) was waiting for us there.  She drove us to Halawa where Nate and August could retrieve their cars....and then August shuttled me back to Kaneohe-side to retrieve mine.  Home at 9:00pm.  Sore, hungry, tired, and thrilled.Thanks to the fellas for their company on the way out.  Thanks to Mena and August for the rides.
Photo by Pete Clines
One more PHOTO. It was taken from the Aiea summit recently when August, Laredo and I did the Halawa/Aiea Loop.  (MUCH better weather that day.)  This photo shows my route, though the bottom portion is not visible from this angle.  Red for the way up, yellow for summit section.