Klamath County High Point Trip Report

Mt Thielsen (9,182 ft)

Date: July 12, 2000
Author: Edward Earl

Mount Thielsen is just north of Crater Lake and has a remarkable summit spire which, from some angles, appears as skinny as a needle. Though it seems from a distance to be scaleable only by expert rock climbers, it is in fact only class 3. Still, it is sometimes called "the lightning rod of the Cascades". Though thunderstorms are not very frequent in this area, Mount Thielsen is certainly the first to draw the charge.

I started the climb at 6 AM at the Mount Thielsen Trailhead (~5250') on OR-138 between the peak and Diamond Lake to its west. The trail climbs gradually through open forest and crosses the PCT at ~7300'. From there, a braided but easy use trail climbs up the gradually steepening crest of the west ridge amid thinning trees. There is some pumice scree, but it is largely avoidable. I must have been in pretty good shape from all the climbing I'd done in the last 1.5 weeks, because the summit pinnacle, which was usually in sight, seemed to grow larger and nearer at an immense rate. The route traverses the south side of the pinnacle and then climbs the last 80' of high quality class 3 on good solid rock up the east side of the pinnacle. Two metal pipes between summit boulders looked as if they hold a register, but one was locked and the other was empty.

The view was magnificent from my airy perch. There was not a cloud in the sky and features that looked hilly from below seemed downright flat up here looking down at a steep angle. It is highly probable that anyone climbing Mount Thielsen by this route will automatically reach the high point of Klamath county, even if the border between it and Douglas county does not go directly over the summit. However, a short shoulder juts out to the east and culminates at an outcrop with about 8' of prominence, which could be the county HP if the county line passes between it and the summit pinnacle at a lower elevation. Just to be sure, I made the 20 second class 2 scramble out to it.

Delicious apple raisin mini-torte at the summit - given earlier by Adam Helman since he's far away climbing Mt Massive in Colorado with John Mitchler on this his fourtieth birthday.