Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mt. Olympus West Slabs -- Alpine Style

My infatuation with Mt. Olympus continues. It's such a unique mountain. It's basically right out my door. It is multi-faceted: West Slab, Memorial Couloirs, Apollo, Zeus, Great Chimney, the hiking trail, and more.  There is lots of fun and experience to be had on that mountain.  Monday, I ran up the southern side of it on a trail. Today, Sam and I scratched up the north face aka the "West Slabs" -- alpine style. As I think about it, this year I've traveled the slabs in at least three modes: sticky rubber, skis, and spikes.

Mt. Olympus North Face aka West Slabs
Sam ascending alpine style, November 2011
Me and Tom Diegel simul-soloing in weird clothes, June 2011
Sam skiing the West Slabs, March 2011
I have to say that although alpine style took the longest, it was well worth it.  Jason Dorais and I made an alpine style attempt a few weeks ago, but the ice was thin and we were short on time.  Today, as we approached, it looked like it would be more of the same.  But once we got on the face, we found large ice smears.  Some were fat, some were ok, others were pretty thin.  But, linking up these smears, and delicately making our way up bare slab, we made our way to the top.  I think we climbed 5 pitches on belay, and then simul-climbed the rest.  8 hrs round trip.  Great outing.

This part was fun!  Some real ice.

The valley below.  This ice isn't visible from there.  Today was a classic case of "don't know until you go."
Sam, climbing some slab and ice in spikes.
Sam topping out in the clouds.


Wilson Alpine said...

Two thumbs up! I have great childhood memories of looking up at that face with such awe. Wish I was there with you guys scratching around and dulling my points. Strong work!

Nicholas Francis said...


Good to ski with you today. Here is the website for the park city nordic ski club (


Unknown said...

Sweet stuff! I've actually been wanting to alpine style the west slabs, so I have a question.

What were the temps and snowfall like the days before you went and found good conditions? I'd imagine it would need to hit about 50 degrees or maybe more in the valley with cold nights for a few days and some previous good snowfall on the face for a good melt freeze to form ice. Is this correct or you have any advice for the best chance of looking for good conditions on the face?