Monday, June 21, 2010


ANAMOLO...Olomana backwards. YES, we did it!
Today Beimes, Justin and I conquered Olomana’s third peak from the back. It was a thrill, even scary as shit at some points, but well worth it. I wish I took more video and had my GoPro wrist camera charged for this one. It is a hike I will probably never do again, and as a single mother of two probably shouldn’t have done to begin with.

Initially we planned to do Bowman but because of time constraints decided on Olomana reverse. We have all completed the infamous third peak from the front and would agree Olomana to be one of Oahu’s more challenging trails. The hike to the first peak is killer, and the ascent and descent of both the second and third peak requires careful footing and the use of many unmaintained ropes. It also includes sheer drops definitely testing one’s fear of heights. But NONE of that comes remotely close to the climb up Olomana’s back.

Before attempting this hike we each tried to research information but came up empty. All we knew was it could be done. Luckily, Justin, a fire fighter stationed at Waimanalo, had the chance to check out the Maunawili Ditch Trail while on duty. He knew it led to the Matterhorn. Having just completed Maunawili Demonstration Trail also helped because we had an idea of how the trails connected.
Once again we parked our car at Justin’s friend’s house in Waimanalo. We exited the property, took a few short cuts through the forest, one which included the Old Kailua Ditch Trail (marked by a yellow, foam arrow), and met up with the Maunawili Ditch Trail cutting off a good 10 minutes. The trail eventually led to a fork where the left path is the Maunawili Demonstration Trail. We continued on the middle path (the Ditch Trail) through some posts and weaved through more forest steadily gaining elevation. We did enjoy a few declines only to walk up again.

About 50 minutes later we finally reached the ridge. We got our first glimpse of Waimanalo but still were not at the base of the third peak. We trekked on through a nice grove and emerged at our first real incline. The terrain was gravely and included no ropes providing a hint of what the third peak entailed. I grabbed onto the brush and imagined descending this on our return trip. I could see myself slipping and sliding and holding on for dear life. That soon changed because once on top I realized I was about to descend the slope’s back. It was sketchy but fortunately no one fell.

We continued along, and as we neared the peak’s backside could see the challenge ahead. Right away we would be using a rope to aid in our ascent. Unmaintained ropes again, and worse, we had no idea when they were last used. I stayed at a clearing to video Justin’s climb and from observing how long it took him to reach the rubber tree I knew it was no easy task. He continued up the second half of the rock face and took even longer! I was in for it. While Beimes continued up, I climbed to the rubber tree. Oh how I loved that rubber tree. I could hear Justin giving Beimes pointers on how to ascend the rocks, and as I approached the area received the same advice.
“Make sure you get good footings. Hold the rope but don’t put all your weight on it,” Justin said.
So there I was almost spread eagle against this huge smooth rock with no crevice or crack, balancing with each foot on an adjacent rock. I knew the next step was to place my left foot higher and use the rope in my left hand to pull the rest of my body upward. Only problem is I’m right handed and I know my right arm is stronger than my left.
“I don’t think my left hand will hold my body weight,” I told Justin.
“Just bring your left foot higher,” he replied.
I told myself over and over again to move my left leg, but it wouldn’t move. It just wouldn’t.
“You CAN’T bring your leg up here and bend it? I thought girls were flexible,” he said sarcastically.
“I am flexible, Justin. I can lift my leg vertically in the air but how can I bend my knee at shoulder level?” I answered back.
I brought my right leg back and stood on the little ledge shaking out my left foot.
Try two. I placed my right foot on the opposing rock. With both legs split once again I grabbed the rope with both arms and placed my weight onto it as I lifted my left leg and then right which was nearly as vertical as Justin explained earlier. With my right foot planted firmly on top, I let go of the rope and pushed myself up. I was finally done!


Or so I thought. There were THREE more insane, vertical, rope requiring, sheer drop climbs. I never put so much trust into ropes and I know I shouldn’t have, but we didn’t have any other choice. When looking from the side, Olomana’s backside is much steeper than its front. The rocks are also larger which means there are less cracks and grooves for grabbing and balancing. If that isn't bad enough, the rocks are crumbling which makes for a lot of gravel. In fact, as I balanced with the rubber tree on the first rock face gravel poured out from around it. I am not sure how much longer the lovely tree will remain intact. At another point, as I tested the strength of a rock to help pull myself up it gave way.

A little over an hour and a half into it and we were almost there. We could see the top of the third peak. All we needed to do was get over the last hump. Justin placed his foot in the rope’s noose and tried to get up but couldn’t. Beimes gave him a lift and Justin still took some time getting up. Oh wonderful I thought to myself. I knew I was going to have to step on Beimes and trust Justin to pull me up. And I do trust both of them, but standing on a platform with sheer drops to both sides hundreds of feet in the air means, like earlier, my body will not listen to me. So close and wanting to finish, I stepped onto Beimes and reached for Justin. He pulled me up with ease and I was on top without a second thought. I have no idea how Beimes got up but with Justin’s aid the three of us were on top of the third peak. In one hour and forty-seven minutes...
We conquered Olomana from behind!


During our ascent we realized there was no way we could go back the way we came. Actually, Beimes and Justin probably could do it, but that was a risk I wasn't going to take. We agreed the return trek would be like rappelling but without harnesses, and there was no way I was going to trust putting ALL my weight into those unmaintained ropes. So we headed out the normal way, down the third peak, up the second, and down the first. The climb up the back of the third peak made the rest of the hike, in regards to fear factor, zilch. It seemed exceptionally easy and on narrow ledges I found myself running. It was, however, a killer on the calves going up the second peak. We took a nice break at the first peak and completed the hike in about three hours. (To think we actually thought we were going to climb up and down Olomana's back in two, what fools!)

Olomana in reverse is in one word: EPIC.
I am so grateful to Beimes and Justin because without the two of them this and many of the other hikes I have been on would not be possible. Thanks guys!!!

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