I was asked many times before and during this hike why I would climb Mount Olympus 5 times in one day. My standard response was usually "because 5 is easier than 6". The actual origins of the idea go to fellow summitpost member Robert Koch
, who joined me on a 3-peat in 2008. Robert half-jokingly suggested that we add an ascent each year. Thus the 4-peat of last year, and 2010's 5'er. Of course this implies that I will have to attempt a 6'er next year, but as of now I'd say the chances of that are slim.
I'd been planning on a 2:00 am start for this sufferfest, but an alarm clock malfunction caused me to oversleep. I woke up at 12:30 and toyed with the idea of just getting up and getting started, but instead decided to sleep a little more. Next thing I knew it was 1:53, and I leaped out of bed to get ready and race to the trailhead. So it was actually 2:27 am when my feet first hit the trail for the start of lap #1. A group of Thursday night partiers were also at the trailhead, but the music of their car stereo soon faded as I climbed into the night. I tried not to think of it as ascent 1 of 5, rather 1 of 1, figuring I'd take each one as it came. I reached the summit for the first time at 4:16 am, and briefly paused to consider that there were probably a few people still in bed in the city below. About halfway down the first light of the day began to appear in the sky, and near the Wilderness Boundary I encountered Greg and his dog Ruby, the first of many hikers I would see on this day. Soon after I came across comrade Judy
who was planning on 2 ascents with an option for 3.
Back at the trailhead at the conclusion of lap #1, I made a brief pit stop to refuel, rewater, and change my shirt and shoes. My legs complained bitterly on the first few hundred feet of lap #2, but from other multiple ascents I'd learned that this feeling soon wears off. About half way up I was feeling pretty good so I made a mental note to slow the pace down a notch since I still had 25+ miles remaining in the day. Just below the saddle I once again encountered Judy, who was now on descent of her first lap. The first person I encountered on descent of lap #2 was a gentleman who I'd seen on Olympus many times in the past. On learning that I was on my second of 5 ascents he commented that I was "drunk or should be". A bit later I passed a group of ladies near the top of blister hill who quizzed me about my plan. Apparently Judy had been spreading rumors about the idiot on the mountain.
I made another brief pit stop at the trailhead then began ascent #3. Near the saddle I once more encountered Judy, who informed me that she was going to call it good at 2 ascents. Judy was doing something unknown to me, which was to use her brain and quit before her body began to hurt. At the summit I reflected that I was doing fairly well to be on top for the 3rd time before noon.
At the trailhead Shelley
was waiting for me. Shelley was planning to join me on lap #4. After more pit stop business we began the ascent. I did an admirable job of keeping up on the first half of this trip, but near the top of blister hill I really began to fade. I was able to keep up on moderate grades, but as soon as things started to get steep Shelley was gone like a shot, and there was nothing I could do to keep up. I finally told her to take off, and I would meet up with her when I got to the summit. Climbing through the cruxy scramble my sunglasses detached from my pack and rolled about 50 feet down the rocks, adding another 0.01 ascents to my already long day. I finally met up with Shelley at the summit, where we immediately began our descent.
Shelley did not feel the need to run down the mountain, so I did the un-gentlemanly thing and took off. Near the top of blister hill I stopped to be photographed by a couple from Farmington, Utah, who wanted a photo of the fool on the mountain.
More food and water at the trailhead, then it was off for my fifth and final lap. A short ways up the hill I encountered Shelley, who graciously offered to carry an empty Gatoraid bottle down for me. The forecasted "chance of thunderstorms" had failed to materialize, and it appeared that the success or failure of this stunt was now completely in my hands. By now the crowds of earlier in the day had thinned out considerably, but I still encountered the occasional hiker, most of whom congratulated me on my imminent completion (rumor control now by Shelley). I reached the summit at 7:43 pm, and made my first summit stop of the day to sign the summit log.
The sun disappeared for good a short distance below the saddle, and I completed the hike in near dark. Back home I ate a couple of pieces of pizza, but at that point a shower and bed seemed more attractive than food.
: 20,930 feet, a personal best
: 2:27 am
: 9:15 pm
: 5 quarts water, 4 quarts Gatoraid
: 2, both on descent of lap #3
: 8225 (est.)
Hike TimesLap #1