May 9, 2009
The beginning of the Obsidians climb season opens with a Basic Mountaineering Class graduation climb of Diamond Peak. This year their were late season winter storms and initially we scheduled or climbs out a little later. The Climb school finished up the third weekend of April and we found ourselves with a five-week gap before any climb was scheduled. We decided to move up the graduation climb to May 9th hoping the roads will clear and the students skills can be put to use.
The climb had at total of nine participants, three of which came through climb school. The rest of our group where Obsidians and members from the community.
A great group of climbers assembled at the Thurston Park and Ride in Springfield. We drove out highway 58 on a fabulous morning. We found the conditions in the forest to be warm for such an early start and were looking forward to an easy drive up the gravel road approach. We were suprized when we encountered a snow drift that would deny us access to the trail head. We attempted to breach this obstacle but quickly realized We were burning daylight and we needed to begin our climb. We were relieved to find we were only a mile and one half from the trail head. We covered this distance quickly and ascended into the forest. It wasnít long before we came across the snow and those who had snowshoes put them on here. It was also time to pull out the map, compass, and g.p.s.
The terrain in the early part of the climb is a steep, forested drainage with lots of wind fall. It temporarily tops out at a forested bench or plateau. Here good views of Diamond Peak open up. The trees spread out here and the ridge that we ascend starts to come into view. The day was shaping up nicely and our progress onto the ridge was smooth. We did find the snow was softening up fast and for those of us who did not bring snow shoes found the way difficult as the day progressed.
The climb at about 6,500 ft starts to steepen quite rapidly. The ridge narrows and presents a series of ten foot or so corniced steps as it rises upward. The climb continues like this until about 7,500 ft where it ascends above a gendarme. The ridge broadens right here and offers up a great vista of Diamond Peakís summit. The view into the southwest cirque is spectacular.
The climb again ascends quickly up the ridge, the terrain here broad and resembling more of a steep hillside. A bit of upward momentum brings us to the south summit of the mountain. The views to the north and the east are vast. It does not take long to realize what a special place your gazing upon. The snow accumulation at 8,400 ft is stunning. The traverse to the summit is loaded up with snow. The overhanging cornices off the leeward side of the traverse are massive. The exposure down into the east cirque is great.
It is about a half mile across the traverse to the summit. We were treated to the glory of free heel skiers carving beautiful turns into the bowl as they skied off the summit. It kept us captivated for the better part of an hour as we all soaked in the views from the Summit at 8,744 ft.
We ended up making a full day out of this adventure as we found ourselves back at the vehicles around 6:30 p.m. It was a great day with a great group of climbers. I canít wait to do it again.
Climbers were Lubos Hubata-Vacek, Juli McGlinsky, Todd Banta, Jennifer Canfield, Danni Harris, Megan Henning, Doug Orwick, Tim Swallin and Larry Huff, leader.