Rimey & Moody Mixed Climbing
As of April 23rd, there was still a good 4 feet of snow at the parking lot, and much of the trail will likely remain under snow for much of May. The path towards Mount Thielsen is relatively well-marked but we found several deviations off the actual trail. However, the terrain is forgiving and there are many more direct options that do not add significant elevation gain or milage. Once the trail deposited us on the coalescence of the West Ridge, the travel became significantly more laborious. Large wind lips and ridges slowed our progress and had us hunting for more even terrain in the trees on the south side of the ridge. Eventually we crested the treeline and starting rapidly gaining elevation while the clouds and fog moved in, limiting visibility.
Upon arriving at Chicken Ledge, the clouds enveloped us but occasionally broke to views of the spectacular terrain that is Mount Thielsen plastered in rime and snow. The sharp relief of the upper portion of the mountain enjoys massive cornices and spires draped in waves of wind-sculpted snow. These landscapes moved in and out of view in the banks of clouds and curtains of fog that swirled around the summit. The spire looked to be in good condition with several options of snow and rime between exposed sections of rock. The climbing was engaging and while it not did not seem particularly difficult, it demanded attention. I am not very good at climbing our Pacific Northwest variety of rime ice yet, but I am becoming increasingly fond of it.
The sun seemed to break through the higher we got and by the time we arrived on the summit, it was nearly through the clouds. We celebrated quickly and fruitlessly tried digging for the rap slings. We never found them, so there's another sling and a 'biner around a horn up there for next lucky climber! The descent and ski was unremarkable - both in terms of quality and duration aside from the wet, heavy snow that fell on us for the last few miles and eventually turned to rain by the time we reached the parking lot. I was a bit surprised and totally psyched to summit Mount Thielsen in these conditions - it was full value!