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Windward Olympus

Updated: Mar 6

By Nandor Szotak - May 2nd 2020

koolau mountain range
Windward views

I didn't do a new, exciting so-called extreme hike for a while. I was more occupied with peak bagging, hiking other trails, and lately got into creating YouTube videos for a new challenge I set for myself, climbing Hawaii's 100 Highest Peaks. All those peaks could be a good motive to write blogs, but I still think I am a better video creator than a writer. I am more of a "documenter" if that word exists.

Okay, so a little bit of history about Windward Olympus. This trail was pioneered by old-school HTMC (Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club) hikers, and the route they set is called unofficially the Turner Route, named after Dayle Turner HTMC member, who lead the actual hike. After that, Pete Clines and his team made an ascent on a little bit different route, and that is called unofficially the Cline's Route. Both routes join at the same spot up higher on the ridge but have different starting points.

After them they were 2 other groups who made the ascent, both using the Turner Route.

Windward Olympus routes
Both routes for Windward Olympus -

My friend Scott was in one of the groups who climbed this route, so I was exchanging some information with him about the hike months ago, and he even showed me his Gpx track which I could examine a couple of times before our attempt.

Was not a lot of planning on this one, I was just asking a couple of friends if they want to do a hike on the weekend. That's it. Windward Olympus, here we come!

Initially, we had a group of 4 people: Stacy, Steve, Ben, and Me. Ben called in sick in the morning, so only 3 of us met in Maunawili, where we started our hike.

Maunwaili Connector Trail
Maunwaili Connector Trail

We used a shortcut trail from Steve's friend's house up to the Maunawili Connector trail, and from there we hiked along the Maunwili Demo trail until we reached our ridge.

maunawili demo trail
Hiking along the Demo Trail

Maunwaili Connector Trail
Mt Olympus from the Demo Trail

After 3 miles of walking, we checked our maps and decided to jump in the uluhe on a nice graded spot. The next 0.4 miles was a continuous bushwhack through thick ferns. We didn't stop until we reached the bottom of the hill (picture below). We thought naively that after the "uluhell" is over, we will have an easier time navigating uphill through the trees.


While getting closer to the hill in front of us, we found some good-looking pink ribbons, possibly leftover from Scott's group from a couple of years ago. Pink ribbons made Steve happy because he was getting worried that we might lose the trail. What trail?

After like 45 minutes the uluhe turned into something else...Well, let's just say that this section was one of the worst if not the worst part of the whole climb. It was a lot of thick vegetation, dry, rotten trees, invasive clidemia, ie'ie plants, and their vines constantly blocking our way. On top of that in one section we even encountered a lot of cat claw with its nasty thorns.

As we were moving in this section, the terrain started to get steeper until at one point we hit a rock wall. Stacy tried to look for a way to go straight up, but it wasn't an option. We had to go right to contour somehow the wall until we could climb up safely.

Safely is a loose term, but you guys know what I mean :)

After 10 minutes of looking around and contouring, we just decided to go for it. We were ascending tree by tree on an almost vertical terrain with loose rocks under our feet. It was a full-body workout that required constant attention, and "rock yelling", but we made it up safely to the top of the steep hill. This section was so bad, that none of us even thought to take a picture!