Haupu Fail P1K
Naluakeina 2x
Pu'u Pihakapu 2x
Makawehi Bluff
Pu'u Ainako

Jan 1, 2020

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Haupu previously climbed Apr 17, 2006
Naluakeina previously climbed Apr 17, 2006
Pu'u Pihakapu previously climbed Apr 17, 2006


Haupu - Naluakeina - Pu'u Piahkapu

Haupu is the very impressive-looking P1K south of Lihue and northeast of Poipu, overlooking the southeast corner of the island. It had been more than 13yrs since I had visited the summit on a family vacation, and so far no one on PB or LoJ had repeated the climb. I had sold it to my companions as a worthy adventure of the sketchy variety and they were easily convinced. The weather today was excellent, one of the finest I've seen in more than two dozen days on the island. One could see Kawaikini, the island highpoint for much of the day (not from where we hiked, though), a summit almost always shrouded in heavy clouds. It was forecast to start raining for the rest of the week so it seemed a good day to tackle this difficult summit.

The only realistic, semi-legal approach is from the south. There are two long, parallel ridges that run north to south reaching to the base of the South Face of Haupu. Both have saddles with Haupu that can be used to access the South Face. I'd used both ridges on earlier efforts and chose the western one for our ascent route, which proved to be a minor mistake. We had parked at the TH for Makauwahi Cave, toured that from above (the cave entrance was closed on our arrival), then headed north on horse trails to the ridge. We followed a ranch road past a No Trespassing sign to a saddle on the ridge, then started along the ridge. We came to a posse of horses that Tom and I avoided, but Iris took an uncomfortable liking to. While we were worried that perhaps a skittish one might kick her, she had no such fear and seemed reluctant to leave them when we had to pass through a gate. We followed the road to its end at some ranch buildings and equipment. Behind these we crossed two fences in succession, and then were pretty much on the untrailed ridgeline for the next two hours plus. There were pig trails along the ridge in places where it was covered in tall grasses, but there was a good deal of heavier brush, forest, some scrambling, and all sorts of obstacles to keep us busy, covering about about a mile and a half. When we reached the base of the South Face of Haupu, we had to traverse through a heavy tangle of forest to reach the ascent ridge a few hundred yards to the right. It was after 11a by the time we reached this point, marking the start of the rock scramble up and out of the jungle. I recognized this neat section of good rock from previously, but above that I had trouble finding the route I had used. We spent about 20min making about 60-80ft of upward travel, as sketchy as promised, perhaps more so, especially when trying to climb near-vertical walls of tall, dead grass with no discernable footing underneath. The grass was particularly dry and would release all sorts of bio-dust that had Iris and I coughing badly in the effort. Tom might have suffered similarly, but he was waiting below this section and had pretty much decided not to try and continue. The soles of his shoes were coming off, and the duct tape that iris had provided to tape them up earlier was proving no match for the rough Hawaiian ground. Whether I had taken more risks on the first ascent or the vegetation had changed somewhat, I could not find a way to continue without exceeding risk tolerances. I looked at Iris after we heard Tom say he was turning back, she shrugged, and I reluctantly called a general retreat.

Back on the good rock at the base of the face, we took a break to snack and rest a bit. I suggested we could travel back along the other ridgeline to the east, which was enthusiastically received. We could at least make a loop of our failed effort. We would have to traverse another quarter mile of the forest/jungle tangle, but after that the ridge looked to become easier. In descending from the rock platform and then a short bit of traversing through underbrush, Tom realized his camera was missing. It seemed we should be able to find it in the short stretch we'd traveled since our rest, but after nearly an hour of searching through trees, ferns, decaying vegetation and rocks, we gave up - the camera would become a permanent fixture of the Hawaiian landscape. We continued over to the other ridgeline which proved a far better route. It had none of the bushwhacking we'd found on the original ridgeline and only a little of the tall grasses. It was slightly longer perhaps, but the ease of travel along it made it far more efficient - we resolved to use it going both ways if we came back for a second attempt (which we didn't do). As a bonus, it gave us the opportunity to travel over two minor named summits, Naluakeina at the northern end and Pu'u Pihakapu near the southern end. Midway between them we scared off a herd of feral goats. We watched them quickly descend through unbelievably steep cliffs and then up another part of the ridge now behind us. Iris would have preferred they hung around for a bonding session. The ridge eventually drops down to Haula Bay, a remote beach that usually offers privacy (except when a trio of grubby peakbaggers drops down from the slopes above you) but has a somewhat unsightly amount of beach trash littering the shore. On the far side of the beach we picked up a use trail that would take us back towards our vehicle more than a mile away. We stopped off at Mahaulepu Beach to cool our feet in the water - the only time Iris and Tom got to play in the ocean this whole trip. After continuing on our way, we stopped for a second visit of the Makauwahi Cave since it was still open. After crawling through the narrow cave entrance on the north side, one gets a close-up view of the inside of the sinkhole and the various caves around its periphery. There is no entrance fee for the visit, though a caretaker inside gladly accepts donations. It was nearly 4p by the time we returned to the jeep, almost a full day.

Makawehi Bluff - Pu'u Ainako

We had some energy and daylight left, so we headed off to do a couple of easy summits in the Poipu area. Pu'u Ainako is an old cinder cone sandwiched between the Poipu Bay Golf Course club house and the Shipwreck Beach parking lot. A small forest covers the hill and the floor is covered in a dense mat of floppy plants that look like cucumber cacti. PB has this accurately located, but LoJ has the summit a quarter mile away at Makawehi Bluff. We visited the LoJ location first, parking at Shipwreck Beach, walking across the beach past not one, but two beach weddings, then up the bluff. There's a network of sandy trails criss-crossing the bluff and it is nearly as popular as Shipwreck Beach. We found the highpoint in a clump of trees, nothing special. We then tackled the PB location starting from the golf club parking lot. With the cacti covering the ground, it was a gingerly-managed tip-toe through the forest for no real purpose, finding the summit without views and without merit. We all agreed it was a forgettable experience.

LoJ has since corrected the location of Pu'u Ainako to match PB and added Makawehi Bluff as a separate entry.


This small cinder cone in Poipu has been completely developed over. The highpoint is found at the end of Keoniloa Pl. We didn't even get out of the jeep for this one, an easy bonus. Laura Newman would love it.


Laura N comments on 10/06/23:
You know me too well Bob.
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