Ascent of Kaala on 2013-12-03

Climber: James Barlow

Others in Party:Dan Conley -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:4040 ft / 1231 m

Ascent Trip Report

Dan and I raced off the ship as soon as liberty call sounded and had to temporarily part ways so I could retrieve our rental car. The ship always seems to take forever to get moored to the pier and we had a sunset to beat so we wouldn't be stuck on the peak too late. There was limited seating in our ride to car rental row at the airport, so we all agreed to send the drivers only. We still managed to stuff 9 people into a 7 passenger van. I made my way to the car rental at the Honolulu airport, procuring our transportation and making a beeline for the Bowfin, where Dan was waiting for me. The drive out to the west side was pretty good until we hit Nanakuli, where traffic was at a standstill. After wasting 20 minutes going a mile and a half, we were on our way to Waianae Valley Rd, where we turned up towards Ka'ala. There is a split in the road at the 2.5 mile mark (using Waianae Valley Rd, not Plantation Rd). Stay left at this split, and you will arrive at the trailhead after 3.6 miles.

We quickly set out around 1:15pm or so, hoping to return to the pavement (or at least below the steep boulders) before the 6pm sunset. We had no trouble finding the trail from the road's end. Shortly after the road ends and trail begins, there is a split. Follow the trail down to the stream crossing instead of continuing straight - wherever that goes. After crossing the stream (dry), we began gaining elevation at an increasingly steep angle. There is a right turn upon arrival at a fence line, where you follow the fence for a while until it suddenly drops away to the left and you continue up the ridge. The are a lot of ropes and cables for steeper sections, which I would normally be opposed to using out of principle, but the rain started around the 1,500 ft level, so the mud was all wet and slippery. We encountered the lower rock pile with cables and found it quite easy to ascend, hardly touching the ropes, even on the wet rock. When we arrived at the second crux rock, we and the rock were thoroughly soaked, so I sucked up my pride and used the rope and cable to pull on with my left hand while climbing up the rock. We didn't have any problems with this class 3 section and would not have needed the ropes if it was dry. The nice thing about it was the fact that we were in a cloud, so the exposure seemed minimal. The downside is that there were no views the entire hike... We reached the summit plateau, hiked the boardwalk, passing a rainwater catch drum under a roof, and continuing to the ugly summit. Such a shame that a wonderful hike was ended with fences and radar junk. We found the BM and wandered around a little to ensure we checked the high point. Our summit photos are just the 2 of us on the BM with clouds all around. Too bad the ship did not arrive earlier, we saw Ka'ala as we were pulling in and it was clear in the morning...

The hike down was uneventful, making more use of the ropes/cable on descent to prevent slipping on the slick trail. The upper rock section was a little easier to descend than ascend, where I just reversed the moves I used on the ascent. The hike down was uneventful and the rain let up as we dropped below 1,500 ft or so. The rain was light the whole time, and we were soaked in sweat, so it didn't really make much of a difference other than trail conditions. Where the trail allowed, we ran in a few sections, hoping to get to the beach before dark for a quick rinse. We also jogged (or in steeper sections, sprinted) down the paved section. We were also quite proud of our arrival at the car in 4 hrs 14 min from when we started. A buddy of mine who lives here said that this hike takes 8 hours. We almost halved that time!

We stopped along the side of the road on the west coast somewhere near Nanakuli to jump in the ocean for a few minutes. We were already soaked in rain and sweat, and driving a rental car in our filthy, we clothes, so in we went. After 5 minutes rinsing off, we dried off and changed right there in the parking lot, using our towels to protect our now-dry clothes from the seats we soaked with hiking clothes. I was staying at my buddy Ken's house in Laie, and made arrangements to meet him in Kane'ohe Bay for dinner at Lulu's, a local favorite.

Day 1 in Hawaii was a success. Day 2 would be spent rock climbing on the north shore west of Waialua Bay, near the road's end with my buddy Dave. He used to live in Hawaii and was familiar with the crags there, so we were guaranteed a less stressful climbing experience than our misadventures at Punta Campanella, Italy a month ago. Naturally, following our morning of climbing at Mokuleia Crag, I dropped my climbing gear in the trunk and walked 50 ft to the ocean and jumped in for a swim for a little bit before a late shrimp lunch at the famous shrimp trucks in Haleiwa and meeting Ken near his place for some late afternoon snorkeling before another fabulous dinner at another local favorite eatery in Kahuku.


Hiking time: 4h 14m
Mileage: 6.83 mi
Max speed: 15.5 mph
Avg moving speed: 2.3 mph
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3480 ft / 1060 m
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3480 ft / 1060 m
    Route:SW Ridge
    Start Trailhead:560 ft / 170 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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