Thielsen, Shasta (Clear Creek)

Thielsen and Diamond Lake

Thielsen and Diamond Lake


Mount Thielsen first came to my attention in 2012 when, while being a tourist at Crater Lake, I spied an impressive rock spike to the north. Unlike most of its volcanic brethren, which are mounds or symmetric cones, Thielsen has been worn down to a single pinnacle, with the only easy access from the west. An official trail leads from near Diamond Lake to within a mile of the summit. Beyond there, a good climber’s trail leads to the short class 3-4 summit scramble.

Sunrise on Thielsen

Sunrise on Thielsen

I like to break up my “commutes” between mountain ranges by tagging loner peaks in the drive-through states like Oregon and Nevada. Most of Oregon is endless green blah, but there are enough volcanoes to keep me busy for a few more trips. I was coming off two hard-ish days, and needed to do some chores in town, so Thielsen was a perfect camping spot and morning peak.

Fire near Crater Lake

Fire near Crater Lake

Not needing all the available daylight, I read and enjoyed a mug of hot coffee, then started up the trail a bit after 7:00. It was nice not to be trying for speed or needing to cover ground quickly, and I enjoyed the Sierra-like feel of the cool, dry morning air. The trail climbs gradually until it crosses the PCT, then becomes rougher and steeper as it joins Thielsen’s west ridge.

Choss-thumb

Choss-thumb

The route continues to become steeper as the rock improves, with the final 100 feet a fourth class scramble up the southeast face of the summit pyramid. At its base, I passed my neighbor in the parking lot the night before, an older woman who seemed to be a Thielsen regular, out for her constitutional and in no hurry. The scramble was fun and surprisingly solid, and the view down the sheer east face was impressive (there is even a 5.8 nightmare choss route on it, probably put up by refugees from the Canadian Rockies). I scrambled and jogged back to the parking lot, now filling up with day-hikers, then continued south.

Looking down to Clear Creek

Looking down to Clear Creek

It’s hard to miss Shasta when coming at the Sierra from the north, and I had an extra day, so I decided to check out the Clear Creek route, the one completely snow-free way up the mountain. It turns out to be a grind, with most of the time spent on a broad 5500′ slope above a popular camping area. However, the volcanic rubble is better-behaved than on Jefferson, and there is usually a decent trail to follow. I passed a couple people-herds heading down from camp (why?) with ice axes (why?!), but amazingly had the whole upper mountain to myself. Though the register suggested there was plenty of traffic, I saw no one on the summit or the upper Avalanche Gulch route while I hung out around mid-day. The climb was a slog, but most of the descent was a breeze, with a mixture of scree-ing and boot-skiing the soft snow-patches. I even had the trailhead to myself as I ate my mid-afternoon post-hike meal. Strange.

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