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Mount Thielsen Climb

September 22, 2012

Coordinator: Fritz Capell

Summit Altitude: 9182 feet
Elevation Gain: 3800 feet
Round-trip Distance: 10 miles
Excursion Time: 10 hours (car-to-car)

Photo Gallery

The central drama of this climb was the breaking of Adrian's car key. The five of us drove down in two cars, set camp at Diamond Lake, and then we all piled into Adrian's car and went up to the lodge for food and drinks. I was designated driver, and when we came back out and I tried to unlock the door, the key broke completely in half in the lock - with our ropes and a bunch of other gear in the back. Some guys from the bar worked on it for about 45 minutes and got the lock popped, and meanwhile the lodge security drove me back to camp to pick up Gabe's truck. So we were mobile, and had all our gear, but his car was still stranded, and there weren't many options for unstranding it, on the weekend in the boonies and six hours from home.

Adrian had a spare key at home, and Bill was driving down from Salem to meet us for the next day's climb, so we put in some calls to arrange the key delivery, but at that hour we couldn't reach Bill. By morning we still weren't sure that plan was going to work out. All five of us started from the Thielsen trailhead about 7:30 am, but if we didn't hear from Bill by about 9, Adrian would have to retreat so that he could drive Gabe's truck all the way back to Portland to get his key and return in time to pick us up after the climb. Fortunately, there was cell phone coverage once we got out of the lowlands, and we got the call right at 9, when Adrian was just about to turn around.

The main feature of the lower part of this route is a large area of downed trees, scattered in all directions, apparently caused by a microburst a few years ago. It a really fascinating phenomenon.

We made pretty good time on the trail, reaching the intersection with the PCT at about 9:45. After a short break, we continued upward through the endless varieties of volcanic rock on this mountain. This mountain has so much to see, and so many things to walk on. There are a few spots where the scree is a little slippery, but in general the footing is really good.

There were quite a few people on the mountain, and we expected that there would be a bottleneck at the saddle, so we were surprised when we arrived and it was deserted. We flaked out our rope as quickly as possible and I scrambled up it, setting a webbing anchor near the summit, and belyed our guys up. By the time we were up, several other groups had arrived at the saddle. I belayed up the first guy of one of the other groups and we reached the summit at about 12:45. We enjoyed a few minutes on the summit, expecting to cede the territory as soon as the next group started arriving, but they never came. After about 15 minutes I went back down to the anchor to see what was going on, only to find it deserted. The other guy I had belayed up had set his rope up at the anchor and then rapped out, I think to do his belaying from the bottom. But then they just waited for us, as we waited for them.

By that time there were about 30 people lingering at the saddle, and none of them seemed to have any idea what they were doing or how to get up the summit block. I shouted down, trying to help them out and get the next team up so that nobody else would have to free-climb it, and finally a woman arrived who knew what she was doing, and she set up her own anchor so that I could tear mine down after we rapped down.

Rockfall was kind of a problem due to all the people on the saddle, many of the without helmets, and coming up the little alley that leads to it. A few people were yelling at us about kicking rocks down, and I had to yell back that we were doing our best, but some rockfall is inevitable, so please get out of the fall line.

We had an uneventful descent, and reached the trailhead again at about 5pm. We only had to wait about a half hour before Bill showed up with the key to Adrian's car, and everything was back in order - well, except that we had tried to arrange the timing to allow watching the Oregon game in the evening, and that didn't work out. We muddled our way to the Spring Campground at Crescent Lake, where we were meeting a couple others for Diamond Peak the next day. We pitched our camp, and Steven cooked us an awesome stew - well, I'm not sure that 'stew' is the right word for something that awesome - for dinner.

- Fritz

Post-Event Forum
[View Pre-Event Forum]

Fritz (leader) says:
We'd love to have your photos! It's easy. Instructions here:

Fritz (leader) says:
3D pictures here

Fritz (leader) says:
New Photos from Gabe and Steven! See Photo Gallery link above.

Fritz (leader) says:
Trip report posted (finally)! Anything I missed?

Gabe says:
Great! Nice job on all the TP's Fritz!! Nice to go back and relive those interesting bits. Good times.

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