Ski season is winding down in most places. But in the Pacific Northwest, volcano season is just getting underway. At 9,182 feet, Mount Thielsen isn't the highest volcano in southern Oregon. However, it may be the most unique. As you pass Crater Lake National Park on highway 230, Thielsen's eroded summit pinnacle reaches for the sky like the spire of a cathedral. After a long and busy week, I was looking forward to this trip. I left Medford at 4 AM on Saturday and met up with friends David, Kyle and Jake, who drove from Eugene and camped at the Mount Thielsen SnoPark the night before. By 6:30 we were on the trail.
|Thielsen from highway 230|
|No sun yet...|
|...and there it is, along with our first look at Thielsen's summit (just below the sun).|
|Long shadows on morning snow|
By 9 am we were on the west ridge ogling the northwest bowl and summit pyramid. We wanted to dig a snow pit to evaluate avy conditions, so we decided to ski the lower northwest bowl and eat lunch. I got first tracks.
|(Photo credit Kyle)|
|Panorama from the West Ridge (click image for full size) |
|(Photo credit Kyle)|
|Jake is ready for some turns.|
|David digs a snow pit...|
|... while the rest of us eat lunch and take in the view.|
After refueling and deciding that conditions were safe to proceed, it was onward and upward on the west ridge.
|Before long were were bootpacking|
|Kyle with Diamond Lake and Mount Bailey in the background|
|Thielsen's summit looming above the northwest chute|
|Panorama with Thielsen summit on the left and Bailey on the right. Although it's hard to see|
in this photo, we were peering down into Crater Lake's rim at center (click image for full size).
|David and Jake discussing snow conditions. We would have loved to |
ski the chute, but on this day it looked quite wind loaded.
|We decided to ski the west ridge. Kyle was stoked.|
|David on the west ridge|
|Scoping out routes for future trips: "Looks good."|
|Jake is in agreement.|
|This meadow looked fun, but skied like glue.|
|Kyle having a Dynafit moment|
|The last few hundred vertical feet were... interesting...|
|... but we managed to ski almost to the car.|
|And the after party...|
Bonus side trip: On the return drive, I pulled over at the Rogue River Gorge and snapped a few photos. Here, the mighty Rogue is channeled through a 20-foot wide chasm. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth a stop.