Mt. Thielsen West Ridge
September 14, 2019
Coordinator: Ben Rosati
Summit Altitude: 9182 feet
Elevation Gain: 3800 feet
Round-trip Distance: 10 miles
Excursion Time: 6 hours (car-to-car)
The 5 climbers arrived at the Mt. Thielsen trailhead promptly at 9 am. Four had spent the night at the nearby Diamond Lake campground, while one drove from Portland at 4 am. Hitting the trail at 9:10 am, things went quite smoothly. The team hit the ridge around 11 am thanks to an unintentionally brisk pace set by their leader (sorry guys). There, the first open views of the beautiful pinnacle appeared. The team stopped for a moment to take it in, then pushed on.
From there the rate of elevation gain increased and the pace slowed slightly. The path was feasible loose scree until an older climber who was descending gave poor advise and sent our group too far right and into some looser scree. We would later find that staying further left in the bigger talus would be the better route up and down. Regardless, the team pushed forward and hit the base of the pinnacle by 12:30 pm.
There was a brief lunch break after which the rope was prepped and harnesses were donned. There were several other groups in the area at the time both ascending and and descending. Some groups with ropes and others without. Leading up, I set the rope for the crew. The climbing was very manageable with 3rd-4th class as expected. The rope was a nice addition for peace of mind given the exposure.
The whole group made the summit and celebrated views of all mountains as far south as Shasta and as far north as Mt. Jefferson. There was also a significant wildfire burning east of Crater lake emitting a large plume. We would later learn that this was a prescribed burn gone that had gotten aware from the fire fighters. Hopes were high for rain the next day.
After waiting for another ascending group, the SAC team set and executed the rappel. There were two slips which resulted in some small yet bad ass hand cuts against the rock, but no falls thanks to a trusty fireman's belay (that belay may have also resulted in one or both of the cuts, but better a small cut than a big drop). A celebratory beer was had at the base of the pinnacle and the crew began the trip down hitting the parking lot at 6 pm. A stelar day in the mountains with a lovely SAC crew.