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Friday, April 1, 2011

Piliwale Ridge to Olympus Windward -- Pat Rorie

Hike date: Saturday, February 8, 2003Jason Sunada gave me the idea for this one.I finally worked up the courage to attempt Piliwale Ridge (the steep gnarly ridge in Maunawili Valley that connects to the taller of the Konahuanui twin peaks). After parking on Lopaka in Maunawili Estates subdivision, I started walking up a paved road leading to a water tank at 8:15 am. By 9 am I had reached a prominent notch in the ridge (elev. 1630') where I paused to hydrate and prepare myself mentally for the hazardous climb to come.After dropping down into and then scrambling out of the notch, I discovered an old grey cable and employed the climbing aid to ascend the first 15 feet. Once above the cable, I carefully negotiated a series of ledges, crawling on hands and knees to keep my center of gravity as close to the ground as possible. The ridge is wide enough here, but the steep exposed pitch is eroded and some of the rock is rotten.With the frame of an external backpack hanging on a tree to my left (Waimanalo side), I completed the ascent to the highest ledge in this section, but not before spending several minutes probing for solid handholds/footholds. Upon finding what seemed to be solid handholds, I lunged upward hoping the rocks wouldn't come loose. Thankfully, they didn't and I reached the top of this initial 200' segment above the notch unscathed, breathing a sigh of relief. Conclusion: In my opinion, there are at least two places along the first 200' above the notch that are unsafe and require ropes.Twenty feet higher, I encountered uluhe and other native flora. Other than one final steep exposed eroded tract (not as bad as the lower ones) and a short exposed narrow pitch (white cable available to assist) it was only a matter of climbing through thick vegetation to gain the Ko'olau summit. The danger zone ends above the 2000' level where a small heavily vegetated hanging gully comes in on the right (Kaneohe side). En route to the summit, I snapped several photos which I plan to send to ofoto for processing.At 11:15 am, three hours after commencing the hike from Lopaka, I acquired the highest point on the Ko'olau Mountain Range (elev. 3150'). I spent over twenty minutes resting there, enjoying the clear views and watching three apapane in flight. At 11:39 am I began traversing the Ko'olau spine hoping to rendezvous with Dayle, Wing, Ed and Scott somewhere between Konahuanui and Mount Olympus. Unfortunately, I dillydallied en route, delighting in the wonderful vistas of Maunawili Valley to windward and Manoa Valley to lee, as well as the rich variety of native flora found there.Between 1 and 1:30 pm I consumed a late lunch adjacent to a bowl shaped depression located just below and on the Waimanalo side of Luaalaea east ridge summit. After lunch, I continued east along the Ko'olau spine, eventually negotiating the lone ironwood and infamous sedan sized rock. Upon discovering a lost section of the Olypus-Castle Trail, I pretty much stayed on this graded contour footpath all the way to the base of Mount Olympus.After traversing Mount Olympus, I began slabbing along Olympus' windward face at 3:01 pm. I had some trouble finding the swath leading down to the saddle, but when I realized that I hadn't contoured far enough, I slabbed further, discovered the swath and took it to the saddle. The descent to the saddle did not come easy, however, for I got poked and prodded almost continuously by woody clidemia hirta plants (I even got poked in the crotch - how humiliating!). From the saddle to Ed's webbing was no picnic either, for I got hung up numerous times in 'ie'ie and other vines (I would have paid big bucks for a pair of hand-held cutters in this stretch). Mercifully, upon reaching the uluhe section, I escaped the tangle andfollowed the path all the way down to the Maunawili Demo Trail, the total descent of the Olympus Windward ridge requiring about 1.5 hours to complete.At 4:40 pm I began hiking the wide, graded contour Maunawili Trail, a bit of an anticlimax. When I reached the junction with Piliwale Ridge some 3.5 miles later, I descended to Maunawili Estates, approaching the pat-mobile at 6:10 pm.Notes:A big mahalo to the late Silver Piliwale for pioneering the route along Piliwale Ridge and to Turner and Gilman for plowing through thick vegetation en route to a spot on the Ko'olau summit near Mount Olympus.

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