A Mad Dash Up Thielsen

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 1, 2006
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter


Thielsen Summit Block

The primary purpose of this trip was to spend time with the family and explore The High Desert Museum near Bend, Crater Lake, and the Wild Safari in Roseburg.  But I couldn't resist the opportunity to get on the trail and run up one of the peaks that I've had on my 2006 mountain goals list.  The first views of Thielsen from the east are quite impressive, and this was one of those peaks where it's been done by many, many people, but everyone seemed to have a slightly different take on the difficulty of this impressive Cascade needle.  One the one hand, I've heard that it's the lightning rod of the Cascades and the last section is exposed and dangerous. Others told me that it was easy scrambling and no rope would be required for any competent climber.

Thielsen from the south

The mixed beta was just enough information to cause a speckle of anxiety, especially since I was coming from another geographic region.  Over the years I've come to realize the variation in grading climbs from Class 3 through 5.10.  One such region that sticks out to me is the climbing in the Moab, Canyonlands, and Arches area.  After climbing granite in the Sawtooths and Tetons, I found the sandstone climbs of the southern Utah area to be challenging for the grade.  Fortunately for me, the weather was clear and sunny and the climbing turned out to be relatively easy.

Thielsen- NW Side from the PCT

I started at the trailhead on the west side by telling my young son and mother I'd be back in 2 hours. We were planning on exploring Crater Lake, so I purposefully did this to apply pressure to my self to run quickly. There is a time to relax and enjoy the scenery, and there is a time to squeeze in a climb while others await your return. This was the later, and the pressure was intensified by the fact that my 5 year old son was upset that he couldn't go with me to the summit and he wanted me to stay. So we all hiked together for the first relatively flat mile and I took off and started the run on an excellent path.  As the trail steepened toward the PCT trail, I kept thinking that the trail was too far left and it would be much better to just bushwhack straight up, but given that I was unfamiliar with the area, I chose to stay on the trail.  That thought would help me though on the way down.

Thielsen Summit North

From the PCT trail, the first views of Thielsen's northwest side are impressive.  I soon left the trail and followed the unofficial trail up the west ridge.  The going was incredibly loose unless I stayed on the exact spine of that ridge.  Still, toward the top I was forced to get off the ridge and head toward the south side of the summit block.  I've been on some loose rock before, but this was some of the loosest ever.  Most of the Cascade climbs I've done have been glaciated peaks, so this was a new one for me.  The Sawtooths have some chossy scrambles like this, but this stuff just seemed more fragmented and jagged.  Nevertheless I reached the base of the summit in nice time with outstanding views of the surrounding terrain.

Thielsen Summit Block

At the base of the summit on the south side, I noticed a
bolt hanger which managed to bring back any speckle of doubt I've had about this
climb. I was alone and hadn't seen a soul the whole time.  The rock looked
more intimidating than it was as I choose a line that was slightly more steep,
but more solid.  This looked like slightly left of the bolt and this Class
4 section was rather easy as I reached the summit.  I looked over the
northeast side, which was quite a drop off. The down climb was a piece of cake
also, as I realized that I done this type of thing unroped, hundreds of times.
The thought crossed my mind that this would be a great winter climb.  I
made my way down the jagged scree, which was as tough going down as it was going
up.  At the PCT, I left the trail and ran down through a thin forest as I
came across the trail way down low. I wouldn't normally do that, but I had
people waiting.  It saved tons of time on the decent as I reached the car
in 2.5 hrs from when I left.  The run / scramble was short, but enjoyable.
Sometimes it's better to have a helter-skelter scramble, rather than no
scramble. The rest of the day was spent sight-seeing Crater Lake.

Thielsen Trail


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