Ascent of Mount Thielsen on 1998-09-20

Climber: Don Gilman

Date:Sunday, September 20, 1998
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Thielsen
    Elevation:9182 ft / 2798 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was my very first mountain climbing trip. I went with my friend, Mike B., who was customer at a bookstore I had been working at, and we headed out highway 138 early on a sunday morning. We were driving Mike's big old Chevy Bel Air, and after an hour or so of driving, we stopped at the Apple Creek TH (I think) to use the facilities. As I walked away from the car to find a bush, I could hear the sound of tires rolling over gravel and I turned to look in horror as the Bel-Air, with Mike, his legs hanging out the door, went rolling off the embankment and crashing down, ten, fifteen feet. Luckily Mike was unhurt and got out, very upset of course. He had parked in front of the path leading to the loo, instead of the parking spots, where there were bumpers, and he had left the car in overdrive, effectively keeping it in neutral, so it had rolled down the path and off the steep embankment. Well, I figured this trip was done and in my mind I was wondering what football games were on TV that day. I went to the highway to try to flag down a ride, and when I finally did, they first brought me back to where Mike was, but when we got there, the car was miraculously back on the road. Two hunters had come by with a big truck and a big winch and they pulled the car right on out. So we checked to make sure nothing was damaged, and when everything checked out, we were on our way, an hour late but still with plenty of time.
The ascent itself was mostly uneventful, except I was in no way conditioned for that kind of elevation gain and definetly struggled from the get-go. But that was fine because Mike is disabled and it takes him quiet a while himself. But I was blown away by the scenery and the fantastic shapes the mountain presents for most of it's length. I stayed with Mike most of the way, but when we were getting pretty close he turned me loose, sensing I was now holding back to stay with him. So I went ahead, knowing he had been on the mountain before. A short timne later I arrived at the base of the summit spire, my goal for the day. I had promised myself that if I didn't feel comfortable making the final climb to the summit, I wasn't going to be upset, so when I got there, I watched the climbers going up and down the face and I realized that I absolutely could do it. So I went for it, and for one of the first times in my life, felt a clarity and a focus I had never experienced, every hand and foot hold absolutely certain, none of my problems existed, the world, outside of this mountain, did not exist. And after a few tense moments I was through the crux and scrambling up the last few boulders to the summit, where I felt exposure like I had never known. The north side falls nearly straight down for two thousand feet, the west side drops a thousand feet, it's awesome and terrifying, especially for a first climb. I didn't linger long, quiet frankly I was really afraid, especially at the thought of climbing back down. I got my picture taken, said thank you to the great peak, and quickly made my way back down, once again, wholly focused on my every movement, and then I it was done, and I was changed for good. I knew what I wanted to do. A few minutes after I got off the summit pinnacle, Mike arrived and I had to hold his two packdogs, big german shepherds, as he too climbed the mountain. I have to say, it is so amazing to me that Mike, who uses a cane to walk and had (especially at that time) very limited mobility, can climb this moutain, unroped, without much difficulty. But that first time, I was so afraid of him falling that I couldn't watch, I just focused on controlling his extremely loyal dogs who probably would have tried to climb the mountain if I had let them go, until he returned from the summit. Then it was a really long hike out because with Mike, going down is much harder on his body and so we had to really take our time, solong in fact that my then-wife and my Mom called the sheriff because we were so overdue. But I was hooked.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:7682 ft / 2341 m
    Elevation Loss:7682 ft / 2341 m
    Distance:7.6 mi / 12.2 km
    Grade/Class:I, YDS 5.0
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:5732 ft / 1747 m
    Extra Loss:1950 ft / 594 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
    Route:Mt Thielsen trail
    Trailhead:Mt Thielsen TH  5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time Up:8 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:5732 ft / 1747 m
    Extra Gain:1950 ft / 594 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
    Route:MT trail
    Trailhead:MT TH  5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time Down:8 Hours 

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