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Ascent of Hualalai on 2017-01-25

Climber: Dave Covill

Others in Party:Dave Pellegrini
Date:Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hualalai
    Location:USA-Hawaii
    Elevation:8271 ft / 2521 m

Ascent Trip Report

What a day! Dave Pellegrini & I dropped Beckie & Susan off near our condo in Waikaloa Beach at 7:00 for their birdwatching tour with Hawaii Forest and Trail, and we drove towards Kona, cut up high, and by 8:00 we were getting out of the SUV at the TH at the top end of the paved road. We noted that some had gone right and off the road at the lower edge of Haloko Road end, some had gone up one of the 2 trails that appeared to be leaving partway up Huehue road and cutting uphill, and that some had gone from the end of the Huehue road. We chose the last, and walked up to the highest house and spoke with the owner, Laura, very nice woman. She said she couldn't give us permission but said the rest of the world just jumped the fence somewhere along there, and we should too.... so we did.....

The weather report said fog moving in and extremely high winds up high, like 75mph. Hmmmmmmphhhhh..... It was blue skies, 50d, dead calm as we left her house at about 5,200'. We made good time up the road, hopping the fence easily, and again in 1/2 mile to get to another section of the road. There is a sign saying no trespassing down at the bottom and that the area is sacred to locals. There was another sign up higher saying that it was Kamehmeha School District property. We passed the highest radio tower, and the road curved between 2 small hills and went level southward, instead of steeply uphill eastward. We passed a HFT tour shuttle van that had floundered on the steep road and was totally stuck and listing heavily to starboard. More on that later. Turns out it was a sister van to the one our gals were in. We shot the ladies a photo, and they texted back that the guide said we were probably not supposed to be there.....

We continued along to the sheep station, which is a mile of level road, and hopped the fence past it 1/4 mile in a pine grove and continued along the road. From here it starts upward in earnest, and it was nice to be in cooler temps up high as the day got closer to noon. We made great progress up, and came to where the road peters out and starts downhill at about 7,500' or so. We headed cross country, following sparse cairns, and soon approached the rim of the first, largest crater. Wow! Over 400' down we thought. Some goats or sheep were down in the bottom of it, no idea how they got there. Steep sides. We hiked up the little hill to the right with some weather equipment in a tiny shed with a small antenna. Obviously not as high as the hills ahead of us, with a GPS reading there of 8,282'. We went downhill about 80', and across 1/4 mile (15 min as Bob Burd said) and gained the highest rim of the far crater. OK....... looks slightly higher to the LEFT (NW) and lower to the RIGHT (SE). Hmmmmm...... PB dot com indicates that the SE rim is highest, with the red circle there. We went left first, gained the high ground in minutes, and found a 4' high cairn, and a BM that said "Hinoa - 1955". We looked across, and we were obviously higher than the weather shed hill by 50' or more, but equally higher than the far crater rim. We took a GPS reading of 8,347'. We went to the far rim edge, with a Class 2+ move to gain high ground, and it looked way lower there. GPS reading of 8,295'. Whooaaaaaa...... PB is wrong, and whoever visited in a fog or clouds or rain may have gone to the wrong spot if they relied solely upon the PB red circle in Caltopo view.

I have added a new spot on the map in PB, labelled "Hualalai true summit", and Greg Slayden can move the old one to the new spot, and delete mine. Several GPS tracks in PB or SP indicate people have walked around the rim but not to the highest spot.

{ UPDATE ! } Scratch that thought. Turns out that the PB spot is perfect on My Topo, but way off on Cal Topo View. Then, the West Hualalai Pk weather station sub-peak is perfect on Cal Topo, but way off on My Topo. I was advised by Hualalai frequent climber Chris Ruiz today that the GPS was way off from the roads on the ground, and I bet this is part of the problem, as Dave P also said that every time we were on a road and he looked at the GPS, it was off a bit from the map view embedded within his GPS. Hmmmmm....... The situation is a mess with the two map views being displaced. Appears to be about 100-200' SE for CalTopo vs where MyTopo says things are.

We took a waypoint at the prom saddle we had crossed, and got a reading of 8,176'. Large deciduous tree right there, none others anywhere in sight, easily discernable on the aerial photo. That gives the weather shed hill prom of ~106'. We ate our sandwiches there, and hightailed it off as the clouds began their inexorable march skyward. We were enveloped in the mist and fog down at about 7,000'. Felt good, no more brutal sun trying to lobster me. We looked for alternate ways down, but none looked well-travelled at all (some GPS TR's did indicate folks had used the tiny 4WD traces) and we ended up returning the way we came.

Good thing! We were about 1 mile and 1,000' from the car, near the highest radio tower, when we spot 2 dudes JOGGING up the hill. They had tiny packs on, running sneakers, and obviously weren't persons of authority. I didn't recognize them, but one said "sooooo..... where you coming from?" We said we had wandered about the hills above, and where were you guys headed? They said "Parrot Caves". Hmmmmm..... Then, one guy said "so, did you hike to the Prom Hill?". Ah hah! Smiles all around. The shorter guy (both perhaps 30-40) said "OK..... whats your names???????" I told him who we were. He says "I'm Sam Grant, and this is Greg Jagielski..... from SLC UT". Well, Sam & I have Jobe Wymore in common, and have likely met in the past. We talked for 5 minutes, gave them beta and our maps, and told them to be sure to hit the cairn at the top. Greg said his GF was waiting down at the car. We remarked that she must be a saint to be willing to wait that long for them, running or not.... We estimated it will take them another 3 hours+ to do it and get back. They had just flown over from Maui, had done Haleakala, and were going to do Kea and Loa the next day.

We bade them farewell, and headed down. It wasn't 10 minutes later we ran into THREE peple (not just 1) and we could tell by the flip flops on 2 of them that they too were not persons of authority. Phewwww..... It was Greg's GF Kadee, and 2 Canadians from Winnipeg she had run into . They were just out getting exercise, Kadee was bored waiting, and they assured us they wouldn't go too high with the terrible road, and their lack of decent footwear, clothing, water, etc....

Great to meet them. Kadee excitedly told me she was the female leader in Prominence within Utah. She is on LOJ, not PB, but promised to look into it. Cool !

We got back near the cars, jumped the final fence, which turned out to be easier than having gone up Laura's driveway, and we came out right at the end of the paved road before it curves up to her house. We jumped in the car and left the 2 cars sitting there waiting for the authorities to take notice. Hope they were all taking the day off!

It just goes to show a couple of things. Never ever trust the weather forecast in Hawaii, and always expect to see like-minded peeps on the trail to a relatively obscure peak.

I'm now at 7 of 11 P2K's in Hawaii, with high hopes of Lanai highpoint in a few days.

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