September 27, 2008
We started from the LCC parking lot at 6:00 under clear skies. That should have given us time to drive, make the climb and return in daylight, but I got lost several times on poorly marked roads. (Note: take good maps) I recommend driving to Summit Lake from the west side. We did not. . . the road from Crescent Lake highway is six miles of VERY poor roads (over 40 minutes in dry conditions). We did not start hiking until almost 10:00. . . two hours late.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) leaves from just north of Summit Lake. . . about 5600 feet. In the first 20 minutes the trail passes beside several small ponds, through a dry, mixed forest. Hike about 2.3 miles to trail junction to Marie Lake. Continue on PCT another 1.2 miles through forest of huge mountain hemlocks with ground cover of short red huckleberries (with tiny berries!). Hike to obvious rock outcrop with fabulous views of Summit Lake to the south. . . at 6600 feet. The large rock cairn is around the sharp right corner (about 50 yards). We took 2.5 hours to reach the cairn… including lunch. The climbers trail is obvious to the left, up the ridgeline.
The trail up the ridge is VERY steep. There are many trails… all marked with cairns, so take note of your route. The upper half of the ridge, above most of the trees, is difficult scree and talus. There was a wonderful hatch of butterflies flowing down the mountain with the slight northwesterly breeze. On the ridgeline, whitebark pines joined the now-stunted mountain hemlocks. After clearing the forest we frequently looked back down the ridge to be sure of our descent… the middle ridge. We mostly hiked up the talus (and down the scree) to the south summit (false summit) at 8421 feet.
We reached the south summit about 2:00. There were several other climbers there, including a dog (without scree booties). The six of us left our packs and hiked 0.4 miles around the three gendarmes to the true summit (8744 feet). Overall, it took us over 4.5 hours to reach the true summit of Diamond Peak. From the Summit we could see the Sisters, Jefferson and even Mount Hood to the north and Thielsen to the south. There were also several lakes visible: Waldo, Odell, Crescent, Summit, and Diamond… despite the smoke that had started to drift in from the Kitson Ridge fire, just a few miles away. After a few quick photos we were headed down. We were back to the south summit about 3:00. From the south summit, the scree descent was relatively fast. Poles are a great help. We were down to the PCT in just over an hour. We took a long break at the rock outcropping as the smoke drifted across Summit Lake. The hike out took another 1.5 hours, so it was about 6:00 when we got back to the trail head. Jim took 140 pictures.
Climbers were: Becky Lipton, Charlene Pierce, Jim Pierce (leader), Guy Strahon, Judy Terry and Elle Weaver; and nonmember Brian Watson.