Ascent of Thurston Peak on 2017-07-31

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, July 31, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Thurston Peak
    Elevation:9706 ft / 2958 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took the masochistic and less scenic route because I needed a much higher gain in preparation for future hikes. This unmaintained trail is mostly quite steep and frequently through dense scrub oak. I usually apply sunscreen on my arms once and forget about it. Today, I applied twice, and still got burned because the overhanging limbs and leaves kept scraping it off. If your ankles are stiff, it will be very tough on your calves and Achilles tendons. I now wonder if it would have been easier to just take the Great Western Trail up the 2nd ridge to the north.

Trail description:
0.5mi, ~5220msl, cross Bonneville Shoreline Trail by continuing straight up steep ridge on unmaintained dirt trail
1.0mi, ~6000msl, cross rocky point on ridge, followed by a short scramble down to a small open saddle; take right
fork to continue up ridge (left fork descends on spur for longer but more gentle descent back to BST)
1.8mi, ~6800msl, the trail, already in dense scrub oak, takes decided course SE along right (S) side of a steep
slope, but soon regains the crest
2.2mi, ~7300msl, the trail again cuts right (S) of the crest through dense scrub oak, this time E bound
2.4mi, ~7620msl, the trail crosses a 250-ft opening in the brush, passing just above several small rock outcrops
2.5mi, ~7660msl, about 20-ft before the good trail enters scrub oak on both sides, look for a couple small cairns
marking a faint trail ascending left. (BTW, that good trail cuts across the bowl to go to Adam's Cabin on the
next spur. On Google Earth, it appears this trail at one time continued across the next bowl east, and possibly
went up a subsequent spur to regain our ridge, but it is now mostly overgrown. I wouldn't try it.) This faint
trail will parallel the good trail about 200 ft before turning left up the steep slope. You will frequently be
pushing aside and sometimes stepping on scrub oak. It's occasionally marked by yellow plastic strips with a red
reflector, but the brush is so thick, you can't always see the next one. Near the crest, turn right to again go
up the ridge. You will shortly see a false opening to the right (downhill south); on your return, remember to
NOT start downhill there. As you approach the outcroppy crest from the right side, look for a small clean
opening in the outcrops, somewhat like a notch. Cross over that opening to find a faint user trail on the left
3.0mi, ~8440msl, after passing left (N) of several outcrops on the crest, you come to a patch of dense brush
followed by another steep rocky section of the ridge. On the way up, I took the trail NNE angling up the broad
opening on the left side then came back on a broad spur to rejoin the main ridge. On the way down, I found it
just as easy to zigzag down through the outcrops to a very small opening through the brush.
3.7mi, ~9100msl, the Great Western Trail joins from the left to go up the ridge
3.8mi, ~9250msl, the GWT curves right to cut across Thurston's SE slope toward the main north-south ridge. Leave the
GWT to pass just left of the bouldery crest and you will soon find a very faint use trail (though none needed)
that easily goes to the summit. On the way up, I was lured into taking the GWT over to what I thought would be
a high saddle on the south ridge (and a better trail up). When I realized it was dropping toward a lower and
much further saddle, I bailed out and went up the steep SE slope, really making the last 400-ft climb a
miserable slog.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5234 ft / 1594 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5234 ft / 1594 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:warm start, hot 93F finish; breezy above 5800msl; build-ups
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5064 ft / 1543 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4874 ft / 1486 m; Extra: 190 ft / 57m
    Loss on way in:190 ft / 57 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:unmaintained trail
    Start Trailhead:Adams Canyon TH  4832 ft / 1472 m
    Time:5 Hours 53 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5044 ft / 1537 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4874 ft / 1486 m; Extra: 170 ft / 51m
    Gain on way out:170 ft / 51 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:unmaintained trail
    End Trailhead:Adams Canyon TH  4832 ft / 1472 m
    Time:3 Hours 35 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hensley
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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