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True Manamana

Updated: Mar 6

By Nandor Szotak - April 16th 2019

pu'u manamana peak
True Manamana in the mist

Climbing the 1600 feet tall Pu'u Manamana (True Manamana) was on my list for a long time. This peak is not to be confused with Turnover Point (2076 ft), the highest point of Pu'u Manamana ridge. If you look at topographic maps you will find this peak as Pu'u Manamana, but to be differentiated from the ridge with the same name people call it "True Manamana". The actual ridge continues after you reach the peak, drops off 200', then reaches the "2 Apes Talking" rock formation. From there the ridge continues up to Pu'u Ohule'hule peak and finally will reach the top of the Ko'olau mountains.

Aerial shot of True Manamana peak
Aerial shot of True Manamana peak

Many people tried to climb this peak including Al Miller, Chuck Godek, and Charlotte Yamane who were some of the best climbers on the island, but none of them succeeded.

In 2010 Pete Clines and Laredo Muredo were the first documented climbers who reached the top of True Manamana. After their ascent, many others climbed it, but it is still one of the rarely climbed mountain peaks on the island of O'ahu. The final approach to the peak is very treacherous, climbing the narrow, gnarly ridge line can be very dangerous and time-consuming too.

Fast forward to our climbing day, I met Mike at my house at 7:00 am, and I asked my wife to drop us off at the trailhead before she goes to work.

The plan was to hike up Cemetery Ridge to Turnover point, which is the last flat high point before the real challenging part of the trail. The weather in the morning didn't look good, black clouds were taking over the Ko'olau mountains, and raindrops hit the windshield of the car on the way to the trailhead.

This was my 4th time trying to hike this trail. The other three times I had to turn back because of heavy rain. But now even if it was raining a bit, I was positive about our chances.

Kahana bay view
Mike reaching the first rock face section with beautiful views to Kahana Bay

Cemetery Ridge
Going up the wet ridge

Everything was super wet from the rain. The humidity, no breeze, and overgrowth didn't help either.

Some parts of the ascent were very nice, but then when we got to the last part, where it became very overgrown with uluhe fern and very muddy.

By the time we arrived at Turnover, we were soaked.

The time to the top was 1h30min, which is a pretty solid time considering the wet terrain.

We took a long break, ate some food, and tried to figure out the weather forecast. It was a whiteout, but the rain stopped. 10 minutes later the sun came out which gave us the "go for it" sign.

Hungaro Explorer selfie
Turnover selfie

hiker bushwhacking in hawaii
Let the bushwhack start!

We knew that the first section of the trail will be wet, and overgrown, but wide, so we were hoping that until we get to the sketchy, narrow sections the wind will dry it up a bit.

Well, it started raining...