Mt Thielsen

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K.Wagner
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Mt Thielsen

Post by K.Wagner » July 16th, 2018, 5:10 pm

This last weekend I had the rare opportunity to head south, and join the Snohomish Mtn Rescue gang on a climb of iconic Mt Thielsen. Together we make up the 5 Geezers. Dave, 75; Jon, Frank & myself at 71; and Arthur, the kid, at 62.
There are lot of high summits around Crater Lake, but Thielsen is unique with its pinnacle summit. Here seen from Mt Scott on Crater Lake rim
55-Mt_Thielsen-S.jpg
So, Thursday, I got off work in Clackamas at 3:45 and rolled into the huge Diamond Lake CG at 8:30. 45 minutes later I slid into my sleeping bag with the alarm set for 3:00 AM (We were really worried about the forecast for high temps for Friday). We hit the trail at 4:30 with headlamps on. When it began to lighten, we could see that we had been hiking through a forest that been devastated by bugs & disease. We traveled through this zone for about 2 miles and then we were out of it.
01-daylight-s.jpg
At 4 1/4 miles we crested the ridge, crossed the PCT and had gained about 1900 feet. We also got our first clear view of our goal. Then we looked at the trail map and saw that we only had .8 miles left to go, but still 1800 feet left to climb!
04-PCT jct, half EG-S.jpg
The climber's trail was easy to follow even after we got out onto the loose talus slope, where it was starting to get steep. It was fun to look down at the shadow moving like a huge sundial across the forest below us. At this point, the trail was still pretty good.
10-shadow-S.jpg
The higher we went, the worse the trail and the steeper the slope became.
12-Upslope-S.jpg
Here, looking eastish at a part of the rim known as “Holly's Ridge”. It was getting steep, and the geology was getting pretty strange!
14-Holly's Ridge-S.jpg
17-Pillars-S.jpg
It was along in here, where it has become a mix of gravel, talus & blocks, that Frank stepped on a loose piece, his right foot slid out, and he went down across the slope. Fortunately Arthur was right next to him and grabbed his wrist to stop him from rolling down the slope. He was pretty shaken, but OK.

Then it was more up until we got onto "The Chicken Ledge" , which can be seen in the fifth picture up. This is where most folks chicken out, and say "This is far enough!". Here looking down our route.
22-Looking down from Chicken Ledge-S.jpg
Here we proved that we are geezers (but alive & still kicking a bit!) by going into full Yosemite mode. We put on our climbing harnesses, set up our belay anchor, then I led the highly technical YDS 5.2, which at sea level would have been nothing, but at 9 ,000 feet, it seemed like at least 5.9! I set up a fixed line for the others to prussic up. Then we set up a second rope for the rappel to speed things up.
20-Jon & Dave setting belay-S.jpg
Here is Jon climbing, hauling up the rappel rope. Looking down at the Chicken Ledge; Arthur & Frank directly below, Dave up to left documenting the daring feat!
25-Looking down route-S.jpg
It was about this time that I started to notice butterflies flitting around. Then the air seemed to be filled with them. Here is Arthur rappelling with the butterflies all around him. He wasn't even aware of them because his focus was on his feet & his balance, because this was not a particularly easy rappel.
38-Arthur-S.jpg
Then it was time to pack it all up, and start the long journey down. This turned out to be really the most difficult part of the entire trip. It was difficult to discern exactly which track we had used on the way up, and a couple of times we had to cross very unfriendly, slippery slopes to get back to the good track. A fall anywhere in here would not have been fatal, but you sure would have gotten some really ugly scrapes & bruises! It was also in here that we were really thankful for the trekking poles we had hauled up. There is a butterfly above Jon's head, near the top of the picture.
39-Jon descending-S.jpg
As we descended farther, the butterflies became almost like a moving blanket across the slope. Literally thousands in the air. I tried taking several pictures, but they're just streaks & smears above the rocks. This was the best I could do, Diamond Lake & Mount Bailey in the background.
42-butterflies-S.jpg
Finally, we were back down to the PCT junction, where we took a break and savored our last view of the mountain.
45-Last view up-S.jpg
From there it was just a dry, hot slog back to the parking lot. Where, bless Jon's pea-picking heart, he had a 1/2 gallon of frozen home made apple cider, that was tucked into a Styrofoam box with 2 ice packs. Now it was just the perfect degree of apple cider slush..... I can't remember anything ever tasting quite as wonderful as it did!

PS: from what I just read in another posting, those were California Tortoise Shell butterflies, and it sounds like they are very common right now, at the elevations where we saw them (6,000 to 9,000 feet).
Kelly
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Chip Down
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by Chip Down » July 16th, 2018, 7:15 pm

Nice. First time? I liked it, but no desire to repeat.
Quite the butterfly season again this year. Seems they're more widespread than last year. Yes, pics are tough. Best strategy is take 100 random pics, sort through them later to find the good ones.

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K.Wagner
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by K.Wagner » July 17th, 2018, 11:13 am

Same with me. Had wanted to do it for many years...... now that I've done it, have little desire to repeat it!
Kelly
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jeffstatt
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by jeffstatt » July 17th, 2018, 6:25 pm

Hey Kelly, thanks for the trip report. I love that you're the young one at 62. That gives this 49 year old a little hope :)


I totally appreciate your comment about it feeling like a 5.9. I will definitely be in chicken out mode when I return there one of these days. (I got about half-way up 6 years ok when we turned around by an oncoming thunderstorm)

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K.Wagner
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by K.Wagner » July 17th, 2018, 7:43 pm

Actually I'm one of the middle ones at 71.

I was the weak one of the group though. The rest of the guys get run around the North Cascades a couple of times per week.
Kelly
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Don Nelsen
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by Don Nelsen » July 17th, 2018, 7:51 pm

Congratulations on bagging Thielsen guys. - And I agree with you, it's not one I'm likely to do again either. Thanks for the TR and the pics.

dn
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adamschneider
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by adamschneider » July 17th, 2018, 10:16 pm

Don Nelsen wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 7:51 pm
Congratulations on bagging Thielsen guys. - And I agree with you, it's not one I'm likely to do again either.
Seriously? I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I didn't love the scree below the scrambly bit, but I loved the scramble to Chicken Ridge and the 4th-class ascent of the summit block.

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K.Wagner
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by K.Wagner » July 18th, 2018, 8:36 am

Again Adam, I think it's that age thing. At this point in life, it just seemed like a whole lot of work. Yes the views were amazing, but the rest of it, at the time, I was really questioning the balance of the work / reward. In retrospect, I'm really glad I got the chance to do it.
Kelly
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Don Nelsen
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Re: Mt Thielsen

Post by Don Nelsen » July 18th, 2018, 10:22 am

adamschneider wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 10:16 pm
Don Nelsen wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 7:51 pm
Congratulations on bagging Thielsen guys. - And I agree with you, it's not one I'm likely to do again either.
Seriously? I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I didn't love the scree below the scrambly bit, but I loved the scramble to Chicken Ridge and the 4th-class ascent of the summit block.
Well, I've free-soloed the summit block three times and that's enough for me. There are so many other places to go and time is short.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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