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[TR] Mt. Thielson- McLoughlin Memorial 8/29/2004


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Climb: Mt. Thielson- McLoughlin Memorial(North Face)


Date of Climb: 8/29/2004


Trip Report:

Two weekends ago, NOLSe and I got rained out of the trail head to Mt. Triumph. We headed home to PDX, split up for a few hours to catch so sleep and meet up again to head down to do the North Face of Mt. Thielson. An early start got us to the PCT about sunrise and the base of the face around 8:30.


After pitch one, on which we found a piton (indicating the correct route?), the route did not follow what was described in the guide book "Oregon High".


Pro was difficult to find and often consisted of small brass nuts. There were two long sections of unprotectable rock. We found there to be some loose rock.


We topped out below the 5.0 section to the summit around 5:00 PM, but decided, F*%@ That, and headed down. We were back at the snugtop.gif in 15:30 round trip.


This route is not recomended by either NOLSE or myself.





Gear Notes:

Much of the gear was small brass


Approach Notes:

Take the PCT from main trail. At sharp obvious switch back continue up over ridge. Cross to far side of talus field.

Edited by Illini
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This is the Mem route... The way Jason worded his TR it sounded like we were off route from pitch one which wasn't what he intended/what happened... the route follows the left buttress (when viewed from the base of the route… the NR has two) which is what we followed. What we found didn’t really match the route description... (expected) specifically the minor details… the major landmarks were there: snow patch in late season, switch back up the butt, etc but beyond that it doesn't match especially near the top. Specifically:


The 40’ “unprotectable” 5.6ish pitch on questionable rock does exist however the book calls for 2 4th class pitches to follow which lead to the summit. These two pitches if anything are 5.7ish on extremely questionable rock… I would describe them as vertical tombstones… the rock itself is good (mostly andesite) but the question is “it is attached?”


The 3 pitches of low 4th class that are suppose to come after the snow patch are actually before it.


If you consider climbing this take many screamers (I had one in every belay anchor) and lots of brass, KBs (I didn’t have any), and small cams. Pull test all your cams… expando is prevalent. Also keep in mind bailing is not a luxury on this route… after about pitch 3 it is safer to continue then to rappel off.


You will find this route is very similar to the rockies: the steeper the more solid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well here I go again - Reading comments about the Mclaughin Memorial route on Thielson tells a lot about the changes in climbing from the 60's to now - When we made the 1st ascent, we did not have a route description, no sticky rubber boots, no nuts (unless you had time to file out the threads of some regular nuts), and we did not leave any trace of our passing through. I do not remember either Bob or Tom placing many (if any) pitons except for sure as an anchor before Bob lead the crux pitch - I was the sherpa with the pack and they alternated the lead - One place for sure that was protected, was the anchor for the belay of Bob as he lead the crux, a 40 foot vertical cinder pitch which had no place for protection - It was a awesome lead - I will agree the final gully is kinda scary with its vertical scree - I wish now that we had taken a can of paint to mark the route as I have been chastised for the bad route description a couple of times - I think I was too gripped to remember as I was climbing.

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Rock on! The brothers definitely put up some tough stuff back in the day... cheers to you for carrying there stuff...


I have a number of photos I’d like to show you… perhaps you could trace the route on them so we could offer a more accurate route description for future suitors. Get a hold of me if this is an option… I could mail you prints or a CD.

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Right on Mr. Rock!

Thanks for the pm, I could just tell from the smile , the guy was kool!


At some point long ago someone places 2 bolts in an attempt to directly finish the route on the upper part of the ridge. From an obvious saddle way up high, they went about 12 feet up and placed what were to be back off slings. Not being brightat times, I thought I would continue up the wall in what would be the most dangerous pitch I have led in all my long career. It shook me so bad, I cried at the top belay. My partner fell repeatedly following, wondering how I got through it. I compare it to A5 - free soloing.Each limb must hold at least 50-60 pounds,etc After about 30 feet, I demanded my partner untie fom the rope and get out his knife should everything rip.


Anyways I messed up and thats pretty much it ,except for I enjoyed the climb and the North cirque of Thielsen is one of the prettiest I have seen !

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Wayne, I think I can picture the direction you must have gone.


You went straight up after a long flat grassy ledge area?If I am picturing it right, thats crazy. How far from the summit was it when you topped the ridge? How long was this pitch you climbed? If I got the location right, from there NOLSe and I traversed right across a more compact rock section to a small outcropping below the final face. I am certainly glad we never saw these bolts you speak of.


I also think it would be a worthy endevor to pool knowledge and come up with an improved route description.



Edited by Illini
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A couple things - The McLoughlin Memorial is a NNE ridge route - Not the North Face which as far as I know has never been done - The last bit of overhanging loose blocks makes a bold statement - Maybe its the last great problem - I also feel that if someone has a picture of the ridge taken from the ridge off to the northeast or from an airplane which could be use to mark the various ways that have used to top out at the normal lunch ledge below the summit - I know that Mark and friends had tried to climb via a route that was more to the east on a couple of the trips they made down to Thielson - When Bob, Tom, and I climbed we went up the first real buttress as we came around from the PCT on the northside.

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OldMan: the north face has been done but only in winter so far. I mailed your pics today... enjoy!


As far as last great remaining problems (Michael Layton... you like bullshit choss routes... this one is all you) the other butt on the back (NNW I believe) is unclimbed... would make for a true soul searching first few hundred feet as it is that reddish lava flow rock (no cracks) with chicken heads in it. I have pics if you want them Michael…


And Wayne: the whole route felt like A5 soloing… especially all the pitches above the saddle… agreed?

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It was the ridge leading directly to the summit and We should have gone right, but I think you do it lower.The drawing in the Oold Dodge book led me to that conclusion. Good job on sending it.

It is a full 165 foot lead and very steep/overhanging in several spots. My partner pulled the bolts out when he followed as not to sucker anyone else into it. They are still in his garage today they were the old shell drivins.

They were placed a very long time before we did it in 97.

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