Mt. Yoran–North Peak via South Col, Diamond Peak Wilderness
May 8, 1986
Vivian Lake trailhead, 50 miles from the Dairy Queen in Pleasant Hill, via Hwy 58, FS Road 24 and FS Rd 2145, then Trail 3662 and 3683, 4 miles into Divide Lake. For comparison: summer times 3-4 hours in to summit, 2-3 hours out. Elevation gain 2000+ feet. Weather: Overcast, broken clouds, intermittent sunshine, mild wind on exposed places, temperature range guess 40’s to 50’s. Upper 500 feet of Diamond Peak obscurred except for a few isolated moments. Excellent views to SE, NE and E. Overcast completely to west. No precipitation.
The good news was Rd. 2145 had been plowed for the last mile so we were able to dig a hole beside the Hemlock Butte trailhead (¼ mile from Vivian Lake trailhead) to park the truck. The bad news was we had no skis and had to posthole the 10-16 inches of new, wet snow the entire 8 miles! Only the first ½ mile of the trail was recognizable so then it was cross-country by compass to the long NW lead in ridge.
On the SW shoulder of North Yoran we stayed on contour and then traversed steeply upward over the snow covered (thank goodness) talus slope to the base of the South Col. The first 150-200 feet section is about 45 degrees, the final 50-75 feet is 3rd-4th class rock (mod NCCS) in summer. The mixed snow and rock was a rare treat to climb, but a bit dicey at times when the snow just barely covered the rock. Topping out on the east ridge we faced the summit snowfield; which was an awesome sight considering its summer counterpart is a fairly benign rock field. Unfortunately, the snow was not simply lying on the rock, but covered it deeply and had contoured itself so that the initial section just beyond the ridge was 70 degrees! The choices were to climb the steep upper section of the east ridge covered with patches of snow, climb the paralleling 70 degree snow slope straight up or traverse out across the very exposed snow until its angle lessened as the south rite to the summit was approached. The snow moisture content was just right for solid steps and there were no incongruent layers so the leader took the last option. All went without mishap and we were on the summit at 2:30 p.m., 5 hours from the truck. After enjoying some snacks and the spectacular scenery – a real pleasure to see this area totally covered in snow – we headed down. A fixed line was placed on the final rock pitch of the South Col to ensure a safe decent. The down climb and return took 4 hours.
A very arduous day, a little more than we had anticipated, but a great workout and a spectacular mixed climb. We all enjoyed getting to know one another and swapping climbing tales. We were blessed with the only decent day weather-wise for several weeks before and the 3 days since! The group was strong and the workload and expertise were shared. All of these contributed to a memorable day in the mountains for all. Recommendations: Not to be attempted under similar conditions without above average physical condition for ail party members, intermediate mountaineering skills at least, and ice ax, crampons, rope, and accessories. Oh yes, take skis! Berg Heil!
Mt. Yoran climbers were Rick Ahrens, John Jacobsen, Rick Kincaid, and leader Hugh McMahan.