Minimalist Mount Olympus Climb

Climbing Mount Olympus with minimal mountaineering equipment. Hike up the Hoh river trail until you reach a landslide below Glacier Meadows Wilderness Camping Site. This was done as a 3 day backpacking trip.

  As a young boy looking at an Olympic National Park Wilderness Map its hard not to notice the mountain in the center of the Olympic Mountains.

  Then in the recent 5 years it has became an obsession of mine to put feet on her ice.  Even at the point of my computer wallpaper being an image of the raw beauty of the snow-capped rock.

  In the evolution of my own personal minimalist journey.  I wanted to do it as close as the first human to step foot on the mountain.

  All within trying to keep basic safety; since it involves glacier travel.  Knowing my limits I have however am very safe person.  When your feet are that close to the earth; in this case ice.  Your neurological system is at such a heightened state, I am less likely to take stupid chances.

  Saying that, I left the trailhead with a net weight of 21 pounds on my back.  This would be everything needed for a three and a half day trip, for roughly 50 miles of trail.  This included lightweight winter gear made of Tyvek, standard glacier travel rope, 1 carabiner and harness.

mount olympus
First view of the Blue Glacier of Mount Olympus

  The first night only a few miles from the trailhead.  We all stayed up until at least midnight watching a lightening storm that surrounded the mountain.  It was amazing to watch from only a few miles away.  This winter I plan to invest in a camera that shoots better at night.  Would have been nice to capture it; however it will be forever engraved into my memories.

hoh river trail
The Hoh Rainforest Trail - a small highway to the Modern Mountaineer loaded with 60lbs + Backpacks

hoh river trail
One of the many logs to cross on the Hoh Trail

hoh river trail
Heading up through the Jungle
hoh river trail
the 'High Hoh Bridge' roughly 13  mile mark 

hoh river trail
Slippery Log Bridge 

hoh river trail waterfall
One of the many Gully's to cross

hoh river trail mountain goat
Mountain Goat in the Trail

landslide glacier meadows
Rope Ladder to get across a washed out Gully

hoh river trail landslide
and then back up the left side to get back on the Trail

ultralight backpacking hoh river trail
Home - Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter at Glacier Meadows - It rained nightly and I was dry

glacier meadows backpacking
Starting the day off

glacier meadows hiking
Ascending out of Glacier Meadows 

ultralight mountaineering
Ascending the moraine with my gutted Gossamer Gear Gorilla; with only a few things I will need.  
minimalist mountaineering
Roping up - Wearing my modified Vibram Five Finger Spyridon LS (to increase breathability, shave weight and fix design issues) 

blue glacier crossing
Heading down onto the Blue Glacier

blue glacier crossing
Splitting bottomless crevasse's 

blue glacier crossing
Looking back at whence we came

blue glacier
Life Line - wearing my homemade MYOG Tyvek Jacket for sun protection
blue glacier crevasse
Watch your step

ultralight mount olympus
Headed off the glacier 
climbing mount olympus

climbing mount olympus
More up

climbing snow dome
Ascending Snow Dome

snow dome olympus
my top for the day - Snow Dome

minimalist mountaineering
Modified mountaineering footwear

barefoot jake
Chillin on Snow Dome

marmot glacier meadows
Olympic Marmot

backpacking hoh rainforest
now for the 18 miles out in rain forest mud 

barefoot in rainforest mud
All trail miles with my Luna Sandals 

My Short Video Clip:

  This was a major accomplishment for me being the first human in Toe Shoes on Olympus.

  I doubt modern mountaineering drifting toward going minimal; since its such a gear driven sport.  However I foresee the need to lighten up their backpacks in the coming years.  Carrying an fully loaded 60 lbs+ pack can not be enjoyable.  One should be focusing on the experience and their surroundings.  Not the overwhelming feeling of wanting to pass out only a few miles from the trailhead.

Updated in December 2015 by Barefoot Jake

Disclaimer/Comments: One should train their feet for some time for this type of winter conditions.  It helps never wearing modern shoes or socks.  That way your body can adapt to the surrounding climates.   
  Biking, hiking or backpacking in minimalist footwear takes strong feet.  Since as we aged wearing shoes have lots most of our natural foot muscle. Give you body time to adjust to this type of footwear before attempting anything you see on this site.