Diamond Peak Climb - Southwest Ridge
May 13, 2006
Our team of eight climbers left South Eugene High School parking lot in two cars at 5:15 a.m. We started out on the Pioneer Gulch trail at 7:15 under a cloudless sky. Within a half mile, at about 5,200', we were in the snow. Based on conditions of the previous weekend, the leader had recommended that climbers bring snowshoes, however the temperature had dropped enough overnight to produce a thick frozen crust. At about 6,500', the slope began increasing and we wished we were wearing crampons. Ice axes were out and we were finding it hard to kick steps into the snow. In one particularly steep section about 150 feet above a patch of timber, we had to cut in a few steps with our axes.
Just before noon, the temperature hit 80 degrees and we took a 20-minute lunch break on the southwest ridge at about 8,000'. We reached the summit at 12:45 and spent 45 minutes relaxing, signing the summit register, and enjoying the views. We shared the summit with two pairs of skiers and watched them take off down the slopes. We were also treated with the sight of about 10 large white birds high above us and towards the west, swooping and circling in a tight group. One of our group speculated that the birds were either snow geese or swans playing in the thermal currents. (Subsequent research indicates that the size of the birds, their height > above the ground, and their antics fit the description of white pelicans.)
The descent was marked with lots of post-holing in the softening snow and some nice glissades. Several of us tried snowshoes on the descent, but they too frequently behaved like skis and became unmanageable. We were glad to reach bare ground under the dense tree canopy. We made it back to the trailhead at 4:00 p.m.
Enjoying a great climb on a beautiful spring day were non-members Clay and Mike Irving, Mazama member Barry Smith, pending Obsidians Barbara Boylan and Chance Fitzpatrick, and Obsidians Chris Stockdale, Rich Peevers (asst. leader), and Brian Hamilton (leader).
photos by (cf)-Chance Fitzpatrick