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Olympic Mountain Rescue - Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains


p. 19: "These mountains are not a 'range' in the usual sense; rather, they comprise a compact cluster of steep peaks surrounded by a belt of densely timbered foothills. The drainage system is radial, with river valleys penetrating deeply into the mountain mass from all sides... Some valleys provide an extremely hostile environment for travel, notorious for box canyons and frequent cliffy waterfalls."

p. 20: The western slopes of the Olympics receive the heaviest precipitation in the 48 conterminous states. The average rainfall at Hoh Ranger Station is 142 inches per year, and Mt Olympus receives the equivalent of more than 220 inches annually. There are at least 70 permanent snowfields and glaciers above 5000 feet. Mt Olympus is the third most glaciated single peak in the 48 conterminuous states.

p. 22: During the winter of 1889-90, an expedition organized by the Seattle Press and led by James H. Christie crossed the Olympic Mountains over the Low Divide by following the Elwha, Goldie, and Quinault Rivers. The epic was published in a special 24-page edition of the Press on July 16, 1890.

p. 26: In 1909, Theodore Roosevelt created the Mt Olympus National Monument by proclamation. The size of the monument was reduced three times between 1912 and 1929, leaving it barely half its original size. During the 1930s pressure to create a national park mounted and Olympic National Park was established in 1938. The park is 914,576 acres at present, but much of it is western lowlands and the coastal strip. Many of the most prominent peaks are on the eastern border of the park or in the Olympic National Forest. In 1984 the Washington Wilderness Act created five new wilderness areas in the Olympic National Forest--the Buckhorn Wilderness at the NE corner of the range, The Brothers Wilderness farther south, the Mt Skokomish Wilderness south of The Brothers, the Wonder Mountain Wilderness west of Lake Cushman, and the Colonel Bob Wilderness father west and south of the Quinault River.

Winter Travel

p. 219a: "While a few trappers, miners, and mountain men plied their trade along the edges of the uplift, there was little winter recreational usage or travel until about 1920. This is not surprising, for in those days people were busy just surviving and most were content to sit in their snug houses during the winter... In truth, the Olympics have never been viewed as a mecca of winter recreation." (I think 1920, above, should be 1930; see below.)

p. 219b: The authors write that interest in the range for winter use began to pick up in the twenties as groups from The Mountaineers started visiting the area. In 1926, a party consisting of R. Barto, S. Eskenazi, W. Faurot, W. Hoffman, and J. McClellan skied up the south fork of Tunnel Creek, crossed the ridge, and descended to the Dosewallips River valley. [In a 6/23/2004 phone conversation, Ralph Eskenazi said this trip was probably in 1936 and also included Bill Miller.] "A little later, parties which included S. Eskenazi, S. Hall, W. Hoffman, and D. Watson reached both Cat Basin and Seven Lakes Basin." [Ralph Eskenazi said this was not correct, since he never did any skiing in the Olympics with Dwight Watson and was not on these trips. Walt Hoffman is listed in the Acknowledgements section as a contributor of information for this book.]

The Olympians of Aberdeen did some touring in the Wynoochee and Quinault areas. The Enchanted Valley Chalet was built in 1930, but there is no evidence that it had significant winter usage. The Bremerton Ski Cruisers built a small lodge a Flapjack Lakes (date unspecified) and spent weekends touring there for a number of years. In the northern Olympics, the Klahhane Club and Olympic Club began visiting the Hurricane Ridge and Blue Mountain (Deer Park) areas and the high-level tour between Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge was done. The authors write that some of the more active ski mountaineering participants included E. Berg, J. Hillyer, W. Hoffman and D. Watson.

p. 220: The authors briefly describe the ski area developments at Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge. They also mention attempts to climb Mt Olympus in winter after World War II by Pete Schoening and friends. They write that the International Geophysical Year (IGY) team led by Ed LaChapelle did a considerable amount of ski mountaineering and climbed several of the lessser summits in the Olympus area, but not the main peak of Olympus. "In all likelihood, Olympus has now been climbed. Unfortunately, there is no record." This book's coverage of the history of winter and ski mountaineering in the Olympics is sketchy and vague.

p. 224: "Much of the Olympic Range is not ideal for oversnow travel. The snowline is variable and often quite high in elevation. Steep and heavily timbered slopes reach far up most peaks, and upper basins are mostly deep within the range. Many of the high ridges are steep and therefore difficult to travel along for extended distances." The book describes ski and snowshoe tours in the Hurricane Ridge area, Quilcene area, Boulder Creek area, Seven Lakes Basin, the Olympic Crossing via Hayden Pass, Staircase-Skokomish area, and the Enchanted Valley-Quinault River area.

High Alpine Traverses

p. 234: The Bailey Range traverse was made popular by Herb Crisler, who photographed the Disney film Olympic Elk in the Bailey Range in the 1930s and early 1940s. The route was first traveled by Billy Everett, who reached Cream Lake Basin in 1885 at the age of 16. Billy Everett made the traverse many times. The book describes summer traverses (on foot) in the Bailey Range, the Dungeness-Dosewallips area, and the Skokomish-Hamma Hamma area.

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Last Updated: Thu, Mar 21, 2019 10:22:31 AM