Mt. Olympus via Blue Glacier

June 29th - July 1st, 2022

Mt. Olympus is an ultra-classic mountaineering objective, with a very interesting and aesthetic route. The climb begins with an 18 mile approach hike through awe-inspiring old-growth forests, involves travel across a true valley glacier, past a major icefall, weaving up and over a false summit, and ends with a rock climb to a summit with commanding 360-degree views of the entire Olympic Peninsula.

The Approach Hike

Starting at Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, the approach hike follows the Hoh River for about 18 miles.

Most of the trail dazzles you with incredible lushness – the signature Hoh Rainforest attraction being the massive carpets of moss adorning giant big leaf maples.

Marveling at the gigantic old-growth trees on the Hoh River Trail.

Colossal spruces, Douglas-firs and Western red-cedars abound on this trail, but given the length of the approach, we had limited time to stop and marvel at the flora.

This particular stand of Western red-cedars was especially captivating, though – a group of absolutely ancient looking trees, growing just a few feet from each other.


The Hoh River Trail has a few tricky sections – multiple stream crossings over fallen logs with crux moves, and one washed-out section with a fixed ladder.

At about 13 miles in, the trail crosses the Hoh River – a couple hundred feet above it!

There are several campgrounds along the trail, with the Glacier Meadows Campground being the last established campground before entering the alpine area surrounding Mt. Olympus.

The Climb

After a 4 am start from our campsite at Glacier Meadows, we ascended up to the lateral moraine.

This spot presented us with our first view of our objective on this trip – an awe-inspiring, panoramic view of the massive Blue Glacier unfolding beneath the Mt. Olympus massif.


First light on the upper reaches of Mt. Olympus, as we roped up to cross the Blue Glacier.

The Blue Glacier icefall made for a spectacular backdrop as we ascended the Snow Dome.

9:45 am: making our way to the summit block.

Panoramic view from the summit, looking down at our ascent route.

Descending from the summit.

On the hike out, I couldn’t resist spending some time admiring the avalanche lilies.