Ascent of Mauga Silisili on 2018-12-20
|Date:||Thursday, December 20, 2018|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||6096 ft / 1858 m|
Ascent Trip ReportEric Gilbertson
Dec 19-22, 2018
Dec 19 I landed in Samoa at 630am after a cramped and sleepless overnight flight from Sydney. Samoa was the country with the most uncertainty on my trip so I gave myself plenty of buffer time. I quickly passed through customs and took a taxi to the ferry terminal for 20 tala. I then bought a ticket and got on the 8am ferry to savaii, the island that has the highpoint, mt Silisili.
At 9am we landed and ofa from jetz rents picked me up to drive me to his office. I rented a small passo for 3 days. I had trouble finding an atm on the island that worked with a us card but one on the outskirts of town abz eventually worked. The police stopped me as I left town to check for my Samoan license then let me pass. After 2 hours I reached aopo and started asking around about climbing Silisili. Eventually I found Toona who is the guide for the climb.
A guide is required by law and the price for one person was 150 tala. I arranged for the climb to start the next morning, which is standard. That afternoon I drove to the beach on the western tip of Samoa on cape vaitola. It was very hot. After a few hours I drove back to aopo and gave Toona a ride to his family’s house in the nearby village of asua. We had dinner and I spent the night there.
Dec 20 We left asua at 615am and soon made it to aopo. From there we drove up into the jungle on a deteriorating road. The road accessed banana and taro plantations. I pushed the little passo pretty far, through 3ft tall plants in the road but didn’t feel safe pushing all the way to the trailhead. A bigger vehicle would have no problem. After a few miles I parked and we continued on foot at 730am.
We soon reached the trailhead and started into the jungle. Toona had guided the route in October but it had already grown over and was indistinguishable from the jungle. He hacked through with a machete though and we made quick progress. We made it higher into the jungle following the gradient and occasional signs of the old route like flagging on trees. We took a break at a campsite with views if aopo. Toona found an orange tree at camp and cut a big stick to get us a few oranges.
The route steepened after the camp and we eventually broke out of the jungle on the summit plateau. The rock was volcanic and covered in blackberry bushes. The berries tasted pretty good. By 1230pm we reached camp on an open ridge with views of the summit. The original plan had been to summit the next morning but we made fast time so decided to summit that day.
We pitched tents, topped off water from the rain catchment containers at camp, then took a short nap. We left camp at 145pm and plunged back into the jungle. By 315pm we finished the final steep push and reached the summit. It was marked with a compass on a tree that Toona said an Australian man put there 20 years ago on the first known ascent of the peak (according to Toona). A few trees had people’s names carved in them.
We left at 4pm and were back at camp by 530pm. Interestingly there were old tire tracks in the dirt near camp. Toona said there was once a road cut up to camp, but it has since overgrown and is now harder to follow than the route from aopo. We watched an amazing sunset from a hill above camp, then went to bed by 830pm.
Dec 21 The next morning we slept in, then started down at 815am. We were back to the trailhead by 1045am and back to the car at 1130am after a short break.The car made it down without any new scratches, and we drove back to asua.
That afternoon we relaxed and swam in a pond near town. I spent the night again in asua after celebrating Toona’s daughter’s 5th birthday party with their extended family of 20 people.
In the morning Toona’s brother-in-law needed a ride to salelologa so I offered to drive him. He was visiting relatives in apia and wanted to bring a pig for the occasion. He tied up a small one then changed his mind and caught and tied up a bigger one. He threw it in the trunk and we drove away. The pig wasn’t too happy after every bump in the road. I caught the ferry to apia and flew out that afternoon.
Link to full trip report and pictures.
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