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Climbing Mt. Thielsen, a traditional mountaineering summit

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Morning view of Mount Thielsen from 
the junction with the PCNST.

Mount Thielsen from the PCNST (west side).

The climber's trail breaks out above the timber.

The footing becomes less stable.

Talus slopes below the summit pinnacle.

Mount Thielsen summit pinnacle and the 
notch leading to the south face.

Ted on the climber's trail above the talus slopes.

The trail follows firmer rock 
above loose talus slopes.

Another view of the pinnacle.

The notch leading to the 
summit pinnacle's south face.

Another view of the pinnacle.

Mount Thielsen summit pinnacle.

Ted on Mount Thielsen summit.

Paul on summit.

Mount Thielsen, south ridge.

Mount Thielsen, East Peak.

Howlock Mountain.

Descending talus slope.

Pinnacle high on Mount Thielsen's west side.

Erosion has exposed layers of ash or cinders.

Copyright© 2001-2003 by Paul J. McClellan. All Rights Reserved.

Route: South Face via Mount Thielsen Trail
Start at the Mount Thielsen Trailhead on the east side of Highway 138 near Diamond Lake. Note that the Mount Thielsen Trailhead and the trail, itself, have been relocated since the USGS Mount Thielsen 7.5 minute topo map was published in 1985. Take the Mount Thielsen Trail east 4 miles to the junction with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST). Find a climber's trail here and follow it up along the West Ridge.

Above timberline the trail climbs scree slopes. Generally bear left at multiple trail junctions to stay near the top of the ridge. Above a yellowish band of poor footing follow a trail up a slabby ridge. The trail then traverses east (right) below the summit pinnacle and above loose talus slopes towards an obvious notch below the South Face. Climb up through this notch to find a ledge below the 80' South Face. 

This face has several climbing variations on generally sound rock. From the ledge climb up about 10 feet to a rising traverse on ledges leading left 40-50 feet. Then climb up and to the right, passing above an overhanging block, to the ridge line. A ramp leads up to the left to the blocky summit. 

As always in the Oregon Cascades, test every hold and keep three points of contact with the rock at all times. Hand and foot holds can dislodge at any time. 

On the descent downclimb the same route on the South Face and follow the climber's trail down to the PCNST and the Mount Thielsen Trail.
--Paul J. McClellan

Webmeister's Note: Paul McClellan gave me permission to post his images of his recent climbs of Mt. Thielsen and Broken Top. Paul has his own website, GlassMountains. He states, "The purpose of this site is to share some of my recreational interests, trip reports, and plans with my family and friends, and to provide links to related resources on the web."

Paul is a very experienced mountaineer, having summitted the Eighteen Major Northwest Peaks. He states, "These eighteen peaks are considered by both the Chemeketans and the Mazamas as the "Major Northwest Peaks" and recognize their members with awards who successfully climb these peaks on club climbs. The Chemeketans include all eighteen peaks; the Mazamas include sixteen of them, excluding Broken Top and Mount Thielsen. Linda joined me on our quest to climb these peaks. We shared most of the climbs together, often leading the climbs in order to get them on the official Chemeketan climb schedule. She successfully completed her goal in 1994 on Mount Baker. I completed mine in 1993 on Mount Shuksan."

Paul McClellan lives in Bend and is a member of Chemeketans and Bend's Cascades Mountaineers Alpine Climbing Club. Visit his site GlassMountains for more great photos and advice from a traditional mountaineer. He can be reached at




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