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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

Pre-Event Forum
[View Post-Event Forum]

Steven asks:
Fritz, where will we be camping Friday night? Also, when are you available to leave Friday for a carpool? Adrian and I have spoken. Gabe, when are you available to leave?

Fritz (leader) answers:
I'm hoping we can get a spot at Diamond Lake, but I'd like to have one reserved if possible. Probably get to that tonight. I'm taking Friday off, so I can probably leave whenever. Does anybody have a car big enough for all of us and gear? Nathan is Portland too, that would be cool if we could all go together.

Adrian says:
Hi guys. I have a Subaru Outback so i don't think i can fit 5 people. I am down for taking as many as possible. Last i've spoken with Gabe he was going to take his own car. Not sure if that is the situation still. Gabe?

Adrian answers:
Also i will be ready to leave about noon or so on Friday as i only work untill 11:30. I just texted Gabe to come on here and let us know what his plans are.

Fritz (leader) says:
Also I'm planning to find and reserve a car-camping spot near to the Diamond Peak trailhead for Saturday night.

Nathan says:
I plan on taking a half day at work on Friday, so I'll be able to leave Portland around noon, too.

Fritz (leader) says:
I've open the climb for "verification", which puts a box up above for you to supply/verify your contact info and generally make sure people are awake and still planning to attend. Please push the buttons...

Gabe says:
I will quite possibly be able to leave Portland around noon as well but this is tentative. I will be driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee so I should have room if anyone needs a lift.

Adrian answers:
Cool. I guess 2 cars. I live on the west side of town in Beaverton. Let me know where you are and we can figure out where to meet. Steven, we can meet at my place again if that works for you.

Steven answers:
Yeah, I'll meet you at your place. I've spoken with the resort and if anyone wants to join I plan on watching the Duck game in the bar. Game is at 7:30.

Adrian answers:
I'm down. Gooooo Ducks!

Fritz (leader) asks:
Shall we all meet at my place at noon? Address is above, I think it's pretty central to us all, mostly on the way, and a good place to leave cars.

Adrian answers:
Sounds good to me. But let's make it closer to 12:30. Steven, can you be at my place at noon?

Fritz (leader) answers:
Let's not meet at two places, it just wastes transition time. I can probably just as easily meet at Adrian's if it's not too far-flung. Adrian can you email me your address?

Steven answers:
Adrian, I'll be there at noon.

Steven answers:
Fritz, I'm currently in St. Helens so it's easiest for me to go to Adrian's in Hillsboro. It also makes more sense for us to pick you up so you don't have to back track Friday and Sunday.

Adrian answers:
Fritz,I am off hwy 26 on 185th so not really on the way. I think we should meet at your place. Does that not work for Nathan and Gabe?

Fritz (leader) says:
Sounds like we'll be two cars, one of which will be a Subaru piloted by myself or Adrian. We can fit four in one of those, so Gabe can be independent (though it'll be a little roomier if somebody can ride with him). It will be tight, so we'll have to economize at least a little on space. Thoughts?

Gabe answers:
I will gladly pick up anyone needing a ride. Im not 100% for the diamond peak trip but for comforts sake i can pick up in portland around noon or so.

Gabe answers:
I can leave later, for that matter, if need be.

Nathan answers:
Gabe, will you be coming from? I will ride with you if the other three are riding together. If I'm not on your way, I can meet you somewhere. I will either be in LO or Tualatin, near I-5.

Adrian answers:
Can you make it to Fritz's place?

Gabe says:
Any of those work for me, just give me an address and time. I get off work at noon so anytime after that would be fine.

Adrian answers:
Can we meet at Fritz's place?

Gabe answers:
I suppose...I'm just curious as to why if I'm only picking up Nathan...

Adrian answers:
Totally misread Fritz's comment above. About meeting in two places. My bad.

Fritz (leader) says:
Ok... me, Steven, Adrian, let's meet at my place about 12:30. Going out to 185th will add like 40 minutes to me or Steven. Gabe and Nathan don't have to meet there; I only meant for one carpool to meet two places seemed unnecessary, as stops always add some time. Not like there's a big rush, but whatever...

Fritz (leader) says:
Please see gear list, I made a couple updates mainly due to weather potential. Please regard the "required" equipment as mandatory, and discuss with me any discrepancies. Also I would highly recommend hiking poles due to the slippery scree; if you don't have any, let me know, I have extras.

This forum is closed at this time.

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