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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Konahuanui to Olympus -- by Dave Webb

On Sunday a group of 4 completed the Koolau summit ridge between Konahuanui and Olympus. Myself, George Privon, Cherly Batangan and Casey Myers were the intrepid adventurers and what a day we had. We dropped off my Honda at Waahila State Park and left for the Kalawahine trailhead in Cheryl's car at about 8:30am. I noted as we pulled out that the gate closed at 6:45pm and we all shared a laugh about getting out on time. Later in the day that memory would not seem quite so funny.
Our group of 4 set off at about 9:15 am heading for the Nuuanu lookout. We ran into a group of 3 hunters with about 8 dogs up there under blustery conditions. The summit of Kona was under dark clouds and we were hit with some sideways rain but the forecast was good so we continued. We actually got off trail initially and climbed up a steep and loose slope. The main trail was discovered after a minute or two and we were off. Made the summit of Kona 1 at about 11:45 am in the clouds. We rested for 15 minutes or so and then started poking around looking for the ridge heading southeast from the summit. The clouds parted momentarily and we were off. Almost immediately after dropping down from the summit the sky cleared and we were treated to a fantastic view of the windward side. The clear skies really boosted my spirits and gave me confidence that we would be able to make it to Olympus. Initially the going was not too bad and we were able to stay to windward in the low vegetation.
My friend Casey is from Oregon so he has not done much hiking in Hawaii. I told him that this was an "intermediate" hike and we had a good laugh. Stopped for lunch in a nice area with low grass and a fantastic view. After awhile the ridge got a lot more brushy and we were repeatedly forced to leeward. Although safer it was a struggle pusing through the bushes and we all were getting beaten up pretty good. I knew that we woud eventually have to negotiate the ironwood tree and "true horror" rock so we continued on. As the day grew longer I realized that our progress had slowed considerably and I started calculating how many daylight hours we had left. It wasn't looking good for awhile. Lots of things start going through your mind like "What about work tomorrow?" and "Are we going to have to spend the night on this ridge?" I know from experience that hurrying is not a good idea since it can often lead to injury which just makes the situation worse. We finally got to the tree which seemed worse than when I had been there before. The wind was howling through there and we tied my 40' length of tubular webbing to a sturdy tree and dropped down just to leeward to get around. Almost immediately we reached "True Horror" rock and again tied the rope off to assist in descending. This rock is a great example of how your mind can play games with you. It is a really easy little downclimb and it would be no big deal until you consider it's location. As you look down you see a huge windward dropoff of thousands of feet and it is a real clincher. Everyone got down and I doubled the rope around the tree keeping a death grip on both live ends. Once down I pulled the rope down in case we needed it again and off we went. From here the going got a little easier and we reached Olympus at about 4:45pm. We got down quickly and reached Waahila right around 6pm.
I don't think anybody has been up there in some time. We spotted a few red ribbons just after leaving Kona ridge and a few more on Wing's contour close to Olympus but nothing in between. If you go plan on at least 4 hours to do the crossover. Take some rope because you will probably need it for the tree and the rock. Start early. Wear long pants and gaiters and a long sleeve shirt. Wear shin guards if you have. Be patient and enjoy the views.

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