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5 Facts about Mount Olympus You Didn’t Know

Mount Olympus over Hurricane Ridge

Mount Olympus over Hurricane Ridge

 

Mount Olympus is the crown jewel of the Olympic Mountains. Standing high above the other summits, Mount Olympic is the center of the Olympic National Park. Her glaciers feeding the mighty and majestic Hoh River and shimmer from the chairs at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

 

Many people know Mount Olympus, but wouldn’t recognize it out of a lineup. It is our hidden gem; the mountain tucked away, high above the elk grazing in the rainforests. You may have seen Mount Olympus a few times or you might have even climbed it, but you probably don’t know these five awesome facts.

 

THE FIVE FACTS

 

Mount Olympus is Hard to See for Two Reasons

Mount Olympus from the summit of Mount Ellinor

Mount Olympus from the summit of Mount Ellinor

 

Standing at 7,956 feet above sea-level, Mount Olympus is usually only seen from the comfy confines of Hurricane Ridge. Aside from Hurricane Ridge, only the more serious hikers and climbers get a glimpse of this beautiful mountain, as it is the third most isolated peak in Washington State.

 

While other peaks do offer views of the mountain, the peak is not visible Seattle, Tacoma or Olympia. Even in Port Angeles and Sequim, Mount Olympus can’t be seen. While you may think you have seen it from Puget Sound, trust us, that is impossible unless you are flying. You don;t see Mount Olympus from Seattle because it is tucked away to the west, behind ever other mountain. It also might have something to do with the fact that it isn’t even one of the 100 tallest mountains in Washington State.

 

 

Was Named Mount Olympus on the 4th of July

It must be real if it is on a map

It must be real if it is on a map

 

The original name for Mount Olympus was obviously not Mount Olympus. For generations, the Quileute called the mountain and the area around it “O-Sky”, which sounds like Oh-El-Ski, not Oh-Sky. While there is no translation to the name published (that we could locate)we can only assume it was something great.

 

“On August 11th, 1774, Spanish Explorer Juan Perez saw a snow-covered peak from his ship on the Pacific Ocean. He named it El Cerro de la Santa Rosalia, which translated from Spanish mean, “Peak of Santa Rosalia.” The mountain was named for a saint in Spain who had lived in the mountains, alone, since the age of 14. While Juan Perez may not have known just how secluded the mountain was from the rest of the world, the name somewhat fits”.

 

On the 4th of July, 1778 (just four years after the Spanish had named the mountain) Captain John Meares laid eyes on the mountain from his British ship and decided to call the mountain “Mount Olympus,” as he thought it looked like it could serve as a home to the gods. While the name was marked on maps, the name wasn’t made official until Captain George Vancouver entered Mount Olympus on the official map in 1792.

 

FUN FACT: Two congressmen once tried to officially change the name of Mount Olympus to Mount Van Buren. Lucky for us, it failed.

 

 

Nobody knows who first climbed Mount Olympus

Just an old-timey day on Mount Olympus

Just an old-timey day on Mount Olympus

 

Like many mountains all over the world, the first successful summit bid is shrouded in controversy. The supposed first summit bids are separated by 16 years, with the first coming in 1891. Supposedly, in 1891, two settlers in the Queets region claimed to have summit the mountain by going up the Queets River Valley. While difficult and rarely approached from this direction, it could have been done if the weather was good enough for long enough.

 

While the East Peak was summited in 1899, and Middle Peak in July of 1907, the official first summit of Mount Olympus was in August of 1907. Eleven climbers from the Seattle Mountaineers, on August 13th, 1907, reached the summit, better known as West Peak. This is completely impressive, as the gear they had was just ridiculous.

 

 

Mount Olympus is Number 3…

Blue Glacier in 1941

Blue Glacier in 1941

 

In number of glaciers for a Washington State Mountain. Only Mount Baker and Mount Rainier have more. Mount Olympus has one extremely famous glacier, best known as Blue Glacier. Blue Glacier has the distinct honor of having more precipitation fall on it than any other glacier in the Contiguous United States. A whopping 180 inches, or 15 feet, pounds down on this glacier, which goes on to form the Hoh River.

 

With over 180 inches of snow and rain falling on the mountain, one would think Blue Glacier would be growing. However, thanks to sever climate change, Blue Glacier has shrunk over 3.4 miles since the 1800s.

 

Read more on the Glaciers of the Olympic National Park: http://bit.ly/1f8sS0b

 

 

The Fastest Summit Will Shock You

Climbers on Mt. Olympus (backside of false summit) Photo Credit: NPS Eric Dorner

Climbers on Mt. Olympus (backside of false summit)
Photo Credit: NPS Eric Dorner

While most people consider a summit bid for Mount Olympus to be a three-day trip, the fastest time less is easily less than one day. Before we give you the time, we feel you should have some background on the route to summit Mount Olympus.

 

From the Hoh Visitor Center Parking lot to the summit of Mount Olympus, the trail is nearly 22 miles, with a staggering 7,391 feet climbed. What makes this even more fun is that for the first 13 miles, you gain less than 1,000 feet in elevation. That means for the last 9 miles, you gain 6,021 feet. Once you are on the summit, complete with glaciers, sketchy traverses and the possibility of death, you have to get off the mountain and go back down the trail.

 

Now that you have some background, the record for summiting Mount Olympus from the Hoh Visitor Center is: 11 hours and 30 minutes.

 

In just 690 minutes, this University of Washington Student ran the trail, climbed the mountain and ran back.

 

Absolutely insane.

 

More Info on the record: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/709650/page/1

 

 

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Alex Peregrine says:

    I loved the whole article here and thanks for sharing it!! but…I like to suggest as a translator and interpreter a minor correction (not meaning to make anyone to feel bad or embarrassed for it)and is not necessarily a big deal for few but is becoming more of a big deal when you need to publish for a major audience of reader like(in this case.
    So, in my case (myself)I like to be corrected in the case of obvious or not so much mistakes because sometimes we can’t see the mistakes or “typos” for ourselves as easy as for others out of “the picture”. So saying so I noticed that the spelling of Cero in the phrase of Cero de la Santa Rosalía is not a Cero (which mean number zero=0 in Spanish, but Cerro which means a mountain (small) for the most part but a mountain after all. So here is my humble contribution to your great article.

    “On August 11th, 1774, Spanish Explorer Juan Perez saw a snow-covered peak from his ship on the Pacific Ocean. He named it El Cero de la Santa Rosalia, which translated from Spanish mean, “Peak of Santa Rosalia.” The mountain was named for a saint in Spain who had lived in the mountains, alone, since the age of 14. While Juan Perez may not have known just how secluded the mountain was from the rest of the world, the name somewhat fits”.

    Thnaks Alex Peregrine

    • ExoticHikes says:

      I accidentally deleted your other comment, but have edited the post. Thanks for the catch! I took the translation off the Olympic National Park page, so I will be sure to contact them as well!
      Good looking out! I appreciate the heads up!

      Douglas

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