Friday, October 7, 2011

8-25-2011: Razor Ridge

Where has the month of September gone?  My last entry dates back to when I did the Kalihi Saddle over the summer.  The days are getting shorter (slightly), the nights are getting a bit on the nippy side, and the U.S. mainland turns their clocks back one hour exactly one month from today (October 6, 2011), indicating that Fall is in full swing.  I've been busy with work (Delta Air Lines) as I worked full time in the month of September although I did manage to squeeze in one super hike into my chaotic schedule.

Back in August, towards the end of the month, we did a hike out on the west side of O`ahu.  The crew on this day consisted of Gene, Marcus, Francis, Thessa, and myself.  Due to local "investigations", I am not allowed to name the location of the hike, but the ridge we climbed reaches for No Name Peak.  Gene dubbed this "Razor Ridge" due to some rather thin dikes encountered.  While this is no Kalihi Saddle or Bolohead Ridge, Razor Ridge can put on a good adrenaline rush.

The air was absolutely stagnant as if O`ahu was stuffed inside a large canvas.  It also didn't help that the humidity was sky high.  Hot and sticky was the theme for the day and it would only get worse as time progressed.  Nonetheless we pushed off under partly cloudy skies into a valley to gain the ridge leading up to No Name.

The clouds departed and the sun began beaming down on us as we gained the crest of the ridge.  The climb up wasn't that difficult, but the aforementioned weather conditions increased the difficulty factor to times fifty.  At this point, I almost wanted to call it quits as I really began to bog down under the intense heat.  Initially the ridgeline wasn't "razor" enough to pose an imminent danger of falling, but the further we went towards No Name, the more narrow it would get.

Eventually we came across a fearsome looking notch that had to be negotiated.  But to even get to the notch itself required inching our way around a block boulder that filled just about the entire width of the ridge.  This was akin to the block boulder on Kawiwi'unu Ridge.  Ropes were installed to help get around the boulder.  Climbing up and over the boulder is an option but I wasn't in the mood to perform any aerobic jumps or stunts.

I caught up to the group as they were descending into the notch one by one.  Ropes were already installed to make the 30-40ft descent somewhat easier.  A big drop on the ocean facing valley made us cautious during the descent.  We knew the drill: big drop, crumbly rock, ropes that shouldn't be trusted.  As my turn to descend came up, Marcus was just about at the top of the cliff (50ft) on the other side of the notch after free climbing it to install rope.

The climb up the cliff face was tricky.  The best way to attack this was to follow a indentation in the cliff face.  However, the bottom half was completely smooth and finding hand/foot holds proved difficult.  To make it worse, a massive drop off awaited to the right and behind you.  Falling here would end someone's day very quickly.  We all made it one by one up the cliff face without incident.

Beyond the cliff face, the slope remained very steep with one minor rock face to scale.  At the top is a false summit with a fence running through it.  One could easily mistake this as the true summit but don't let it fool you.  From here, one turns right and follows the fenceline towards  No Name Peak, which is obscured by a hill.  Once we gained the top of this hill, we saw the remainder of the entire climb.  While the ridgeline was rather level, a 2nd and suicidal looking 60ft cliff face went virtually straight up to the summit of No Name.  Have no fear though as this is easily bypassed by following the fence all the way to it's end, and then hanging left to pick up a contour trail that reaches for ridgeline between Tiki and No Name.  Marcus wanted to look for that extra adrenaline and ended up climbing the cliff to gain No Name and proceeded to meet us at Tiki.  Gene, being on a timely schedule with work, had to descend early ahead of us while we took a well deserved rest by the mammoth boulders making up Tiki.

Instead of following the ridgeline from Tiki to Three Poles (W-K Trail), we went north north west to descend back into the valley we came up from to complete the hike as a loop.  About halfway down, we lost the trail and ended hiking back down via a very wet and slippery gulch.  At this moment, I was already feeling the effects of heat exhaustion and was not able to properly concentrate on my foot placement.  This resulted in numerous slip and falls on the wet rocks, making for a very frustrating descent.

We eventually popped out on to the valley road and headed back towards the ocean, concluding the loop hike.  Will I do this again?  MAYBE, if the weather is better.  I would like to know the correct route from Tiki back to the valley road.

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