Diamond Peak Graduation Climb
May 19, 2007
We began our climb at 8:15 under cloudy skies, at the Pioneer Gulch Trailhead. Our backpacks were heavier than most of us would have preferred because everyone carried crampons and snowshoes and we were prepared for wet and cold weather. The forecast called for a 30% chance of showers with a freezing level at 6,000'.
The first quarter mile of the Pioneer Gulch Trail is steep and within 20 minutes, we needed to remove layers of clothing. We soon left the trail to ascend toward the southwest ridge, breaking out of the heavier timber into more open terrain. We took GPS bearings at this point (5,400') to help us find our way back on the descent. At about 5,550', we were in the snow and it was firm enough at that time in the morning that we didnít need our snowshoes. As we continued heading almost due west and slightly below the southwest ridge, the clouds would occasionally break open enough that we would have glimpses of the upper ridge. The slope gradually increased so that as we neared the tree line, it became very steep and trekking poles were replaced with ice axes.
At about 11:00 a.m., we reached the tree line and turned toward the north to get onto the ridge top. Once on the open slopes, our spirits seemed to lift because it now felt more like we were actually climbing a mountain, rather than hiking through the woods. After another half hour, at 7,766', we stopped at some rocks on the ridge to eat lunch. The final push for the summit began 20 minutes later. At the false summit, we ran into some backcountry skiers and rested for a few minutes. After hiking the final half mile along the summit ridge, the lead members of the group reached the summit at 1:00. We stayed at the summit for about 45 minutes, taking photos and signing the summit register before beginning out descent. We ended up not using snowshoes or crampons although a few of us post-holed down to our hips near buried rocks more than once. We returned to the trailhead at 4:15 p.m.. Non-Obsidian Lubos Hubata-Vacek and Jonathon Deininger completed their qualifying climb and were able to fill out membership applications back at the cars. Obsidian climbers were Matt Bell, Lori Tierney, Andrew Jensen, Barry Smith, Rich Peevers (co-leader), and Brian Hamilton (leader.)
— photos by Brian Hamilton