Friday, December 24, 2010

3 Peaks of Olomana

The three peaks
Olomana, Paku'i, and Ahiki
Date - June 13th, 2010
Length - 6 Miles Round Trip
Time - 4 Hours and 30 Minutes
Short&Sweet - An exhilarating climb to three craggy peaks.

    Hike number 2! The three peaks: Olomana, Paku'i, and Ahiki is an isolated mountain range in the mddle of Kailua believed to be a remnant of an ancient caldera on Oahu. It is known collectively as Three Peaks or Olomana. Today, our group consisting of Andrew, moi, Mike, other Mike, Lynnale, Morgan, and Jason set out to conquer these imposing peaks. I had no idea what to expect today, and I must say my tolerance for steep drop offs was definitely tested.

Climbing to the first peak
    As we arrived at the Luana Hills Country Club (trailhead), I learned just how popular this hike was on the island. We ended up heading up, har har har, with another big group of hikers from some meetup website or something. Don't look at me... We set out for the first and highest peak, Olomana, and boy was that fun. The first peak basically consists of an exhausting uphill push to the summit with a few roped rock faces near the top. I reached the first summit with some girl from the other group first. As I died trying to catch my breath, she seemed unphased from the climb as she yammered on about pancakes and cream cheese. Then it hit me, this summit was exposed with near vertical drops on all sides. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of heights, but I sure as hell am afraid of falling. As we waited here, the rest of both groups made their way to the summit, and I just could not will myself to stand up here. Of course, I was in good company as Jason and his vertigo refused to stand also. If you can get over the fear the first summit offers an icredible 360 degree panorama of the Windward Side of Oahu. The third peak, Ahiki, also looks unclimbable from the vantage point. At least I thought it did. Soon people from both groups began to make their way to the second peak, and, not wanting to miss out on the carnage, I followed a few minutes later.

Peak 2 and 3 from 1

Peak 2
The saddle connecting the first and second peak is more or less a gingerly walk across a wide ridgeline. I didn't find it to be as unnerving as the first peak. The real fun begins when you reach the backside of the second peak and the low lying saddle that connects it to the third peak. From the second peak, the ridgeline drops steeply before gradually ascending to the summit of the third and final peak. There are a lot of fixed rope to aid in the initial descent, but it did little to appease my fear. Beyond that it was really just about being cautious of the crumbly dirt and rocks that littered the trail as it continued to descend.

To Ahiki!
    As the trail began to reverse its downward descent, we reach the "keyhole". Here the hikers began bottlenecking as they made their way around its steep left side with the aid of a rope. The keyhole is a large rock column smack dab in the middle of the ridgeling complete with hole in center. If you don't trust the rope or don't want to skirt  the side of cliff to get around it, you can always go through the keyhole. Seeing as though I was too scared to stand on the first peak, passing through the keyhole wasn't really an option. From here the only real aobstacle that remained was the crumbly ascent that followed. Only about half of my group made it to the summit of the third peak (Andrew, Lynnale, Mike, and me). The views weren't as good as the first peak, but they were a welcome reward for conquering Hawaii's "Matterhorn". The only thing left was the meticulous return trip back to the cars. My impatience for return trips kicked in as I passed everyone else on the way back to the counrty club. All in all, I would say Olomana is one of the must do hikes on Oahu even if you only go to the first peak like most. If you are brave enough, you can even try to descend Ahiki's steep backside.   

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