Ascent of Mount Thielsen on 2013-07-21

Climber: jeff carr

Others in Party:
Christophe Hoarau
Emanuela Schmidt
Date:Sunday, July 21, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Thielsen
    Elevation:9182 ft / 2798 m

Ascent Trip Report

What a great adventure in a day!
The directions are very easy, coming from I-5 in Roseburg take HWY 138 towards Crater Lake. Once you pass the Diamond lake lodge go another mile or two to a huge winderness sign that says "Mt Thielsen Tralihead". Park there and go.
The first 3 miles is on well maintained trails with a very easy grade. Once you reach the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail(PCT), you depart the main trail and head up the ridge. The junction with the PCT is not terribly obvious, so go by this rule. Go until you pop out in a ridge and the ground drops off on that ridge for the first time and you have a clear unobstructed view of the whole mountain, and then look for the PCT to vere off to the south and a slight trail goes off to the ridge heading east. Stay on the ridge and the trail becomes obvious in about 30-50 feet.
The ridge part of the trail starts here and is a cool part of the experience. Less and less trees with each section you climb and a the top of Thielsen just seems to be sliding down the ridge to meet you. Details that you didn't see from below are now easily viewed. The changes of color in the rocks, the shapes and varied kinds or rock are surprising.
Once you get to 8000 feet, the trail steepens considerably. Below, the trail goes through scree and the ascending is harder than on a regular trail, but nothing to hold you back. From there you begin using hand holds. It is not too steep, maybe 35-38 degrees on good rock. Trail finding is easy enough in most places, but you have several choices in many spots and finding the best one is not always as easy as it looks. If I have any advice for you, it would be: If in doubt, stay left on the top of the ridge, going to the right (south) may be a good idea once but more often than not, the left was better in the long run.
At around 8500 feet you go start to near the gully that leads to Chicken Ledge. It is very easy climbing and the views behind you are wonderful. You can see over to the east side and all the amazing views there. Crater lake, and its lake surface is now visable to the south.
Chicken Ledge is atop a saddle like flatspot on the east side of the summit pinnacle. It is a nice place and invarribly a gathering point for all summit groups. Multiple routes to the summit are available here. The rock is very solid and nearly all holds, when selected a reasonable eye are excellent. We took up a rope and belayed ELa to the top, but the climb up was not something that made a rope necessary at all. Christophe and I threw the rope down and simply downclimbed it free.
The only advice I have for anyone on this segment of the climb would be, pay very close attention to how you are going to get down while you are on your way UP! it is hard to see what the best way down is from avobe.
The descent is rigirous, as there are some long steps up rocks while ascending they seem twice that long on the way down. Bring a ton of water. I went through 3 liters. Bring enough water to hand a bottle off to some nitwit that gets up there without, or in case you stay longer than you anticipated.
Good hiking boots are going to make your life much better, and a light set of gaiters. Tennis shoes are an invitaion to a rolled ankle or a nasty cut on your lower leg from sharp stones.
Of all the Cascades, this one looks like the most difficult to climb from below. It is not. It is rewarding, spectacular and not too hard.
Oh, and lastly, there is no water up there... No streams, no lakes, no puddles.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:class IV, maybe 5.2
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Perfect day

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