September 11, 2005
The original plan was for a two peak weekend—Diamond on Saturday, and Thielsen on Sunday. Only one person signed up for Thielsen—a non-member who canceled at the last minute, so I backed off to only a single peak, and delayed it until Sunday due to rather wet weather on Saturday.
Larry Huff and I met at SEHS at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, and were hiking up the Pioneer Gulch Trail by 8. At about 6000 ft. we started seeing tiny patches of hail (or maybe snow), and much larger patches—definitely snow—as we approached the SW ridge. It must have fallen wet the day before, and had frozen up nicely solid that night. Rocks were coated with ice making them quite slick. Up the ridge a ways it was 3–4 inches deep and covered with a crystalline fuzz. The whitebark pines were heavy with ice on their leeward sides.
In the south, Mt. Thielsen, Cowhorn Mountain, Mt. Bailey, and Sawtooth Mountain were at times visible. Thielsen and Cowhorn were white with the new snow. It was sunny, but a bit on the cool side as we climbed the ridge to the false summit. Our fairly quick pace kept us warm. While the snow didn’t fully cover the rocks, it did fill in the spaces between somewhat and seemed make for easier going than if it were bare. And we could kick in steps on those stretches which are loose scree when they’re dry.
The ridge to the true summit was built up with about two feet of wind-blown snow and decorated on its east side with miniature cornices. Fog was roiling about on the north side when we reached the summit, and clouds were building up in the south—some looking a bit darkish. There was only a slight breeze. We spent only about 15 minutes as the clouds were looking a bit rain-like. Even in that short time, the snow on the ridge had softened a bit, so we took extra care traversing around or over the gendarmes.
We left the ridge at about 6800 ft. on a bearing of 220°. After going about ¾ miles on that bearing, we came out on the Diamond Peak Trail about 150 ft. south of its junction with the Pioneer Gulch Trail. We were back at the car by 1:40, unrained on, but soaked from bashing through the brush on the crosscountry section that was wet from melted frost.
—photos by Wayne Deeter