Climbing the glacier-clad 7,965-foot Mt. Olympus is a 44-mile round-trip trek. From the Hoh Ranger Station—the closest and most popular departure point—hike 12 flat miles along the Hoh River Trail, then another five steep ones to the Olympus base camp, Glacier Meadows. Crossing Blue Glacier and the Snow Dome requires rope, an ice ax, crampons, and mountaineering skills; a hard hat is advised because of rock falls near the summit.
The eight-mile climb from Glacier Meadows to the summit takes about 10 hours. The best months for climbing are late June through early September, the driest months in the park; prior to that time mud and washouts may slow you down.
Inexperienced climbers and those unfamiliar with the area might be wise to hire a guide to accompany them up to the top. National park guide service contracts change year by year, but one company is a perennial fave: Mountain Madness (3018 SW Charlestown St., Seattle, 206/937-8389) runs four-day treks to the top of Olympus meant for beginners on up.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition