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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Konahuanui via Lulumahu

Konahuanui, the highest peak in the Koolau Range, is usually reached via the Tantalus Trail system at a trailhead on Tantalus Drive (see google maps).  In 2001, another route to Konahuanui was employed.  Herein is a description of that ascent and subsequent return which in total accounted for 8 to 10 miles.
The starting point is  the hunters' check-in where Nuuanu Pali Drive rejoins Pali Hwy. (google maps).
We started along the muddy trail to Lulumahu Falls and after two stream crossings (very near Lulumahu Falls)  we stayed on the left bank to begin climbing a roughly cut trail that went up the left ridge of Lulumahu. There was one section where the ridge narrowed to a razor edge.  There was one steep section with a strap (dunno where it came from) for climbing assistance.  Keep in mind that this was in 2001.  That strap likely is not there or very frail if it is.  Take note.After that, the ridge is fairly broad with no overly dangerous parts. Like the regular Konahuanui trail, this ridge dips to a prominent saddle and then climbs steadily to gain the crest of the Koolaus.  In our case, the final climb was steep with poor, loose, muddy footing but with plenty of vegetation as a buffer.When I reached Konahuanui 1 (the higher of the twins), I noticed a skinny haole teenager coming up from the ridge to my left.  I thought, "Did that buggah come up Piliwale?"Nah, he must've come up the regular Konahuanui trail and was just poking around over toward Piliwale, I reckoned. So I asked him, "What time did you start?" (9:00 was his reply).  Question two: "So did you start from Tantalus?"His reply stunned me.  He turned around pointed behind him and said, "Pali Lookout."Of course I grilled him with the expected questions: Any rope sections? (one but not needed);  How was the overhanging rockface? (tough but free-climbable); Any other obstacles? (very narrow sections thru what he called fern tunnels). What's your name? (Drush [da-rush] Fuller) (see pic below).
Drush Fuller
This guy, skinny as stalk of cane, is a 2001 grad of Kalaheo high school and a self-professed "mountain kid." He carried no pack, no rope, no water, no food, no nothing except the keys to his truck in his pocket. He wore a black t-shirt, knit pants with the cuffs cut off, and old-style Converse hightop basketball shoes.
I told him it was a helluva climb he pulled off. I later gave him a ride back to his truck at the lookout and invited him to join a group of us for an exploratory ascent of a ridge in Maunawili Valley this coming Saturday (anyone interested in joining us for that, email me).Prior to that, there was a hike to complete, which included the muddy crossover from K1 to K2 and the descent of the regular Konahuanui trail to the Nuuanu Lookout.  From the Lookout, we connected with the Nuuanu trail, which took us down to the Judd trail, which took us to Nuuanu Stream, which we used to clean the mud from legs, shoes, and gaiters.


  1. Interesting! I've been eyeing the ridge down to the lookout and wondering...

  2. i gotta try free climb it now