Diamond Peak

September 16, 2006

A pretty good sized weather disturbance passed through the area Thursday evening through Friday evening. I was a bit tentative at first, launching the climb on the planned date. It was decided that it would be a go, so I met my one participant Matt at the South Eugene parking lot. We arrived at the Pioneer gulch trailhead about 8:30 a.m. under overcast skies. We put are packs together set a waypoint at the vehicle and up the trail we went. At the one mile mark we hit snow. We were rewarded by fresh Bear tracks on the trail shortly thereafter. We reached the trail junction established another waypoint. I pulled my compass out and set a bearing for 40 degrees and off we went into the trackless forest. We moved along leaving a trail of foot prints as we weaved through the forest. We finally arrived on the southwest ridge. I proceeded to show Matt the large cirque are bowl that forms abruptly to our climbers left. The clouds kept moving in and out creating limited field of vision. I set a low way point on the ridge explained to Matt we would use the ridge as a handrail for navigation. The wind blown snow would create some minor issues for me as I broke trail upwards. We talked momentarily about bagging the climb. We decided on a turn around time of 2:00 p.m. Our spirits would lift with the clouds as we where better able to gauge our progress when the mountain and ridge would show itself. We were able to establish a good climbing pace. I set some intermittent waypoints in case whiteout conditions became imminent. The snow was actually helpful on the scree portions giving us good traction. We made the false summit at 12:30 p.m. The traverse was wickedly cool looking. I handed Matt a trekking pole explained to him to stay close to me. We dawned our wind shells and walked out onto the traverse. It was a little sketchy on some of the skirting of the gendarmes, but the snow was actually very helpful in ascending the summit pyramid. When we arrived on the summit the clouds parted giving us a heavenly view. I really was just beside myself with excitement at our good fortune. We snapped several pictures. We marveled at the view across the cloud tops. The north peak and ridge were beautiful with the snowcover, the east side of the wilderness with Crecsent and Odell lakes laid out at our feet. We composed ourselves again and proceeded back across the traverse. We noticed two climbers at the false summit but when we arrived back there they had apparently decided not to cross the traverse and were down ridge. We had lunch at the false summit snapped some more pictures. The weather continued to improve as we descended the ridge. the sun was melting the snow amazingly fast. We were able to follow our boot track out despite the melting snow. I put my g.p.s away, tucked away the compass and walked back out to the car. It was quite the contrast from a climb of diamond exactly a month before. It keeps it fun. Thanks Matt for following me up the mountain when it was still tentative at best.

Larry Huff, leader and Matt Bell.


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