Ascent of Diamond Peak on 2017-08-04

Climber: Steve Fountain

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, August 4, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Diamond Peak
    Elevation:8744 ft / 2665 m

Ascent Trip Report

Set out on the third day of triple digit temperatures in Portland (with smoke triggering air advisories for the Willamette Valley and all of Lane County). Air quality was much better here, but the haze blocked everything below about 7000' unless it was relatively close with major peaks poking out of the gray-brown haze. Set out from the trailhead at 6:00am to beat the heat of the day and was on top by 10 with plenty of stops for food and pictures, and plain old rest - the first strenuous hike of the year for me. Since no one has given a recent TR for this route, it looks like the Rockpile Trail got some cutting pretty recently - maybe last year - and is clear of obstructions. The road is in decent shape too, but there was a logging operation right at the (west end) beginning of Rd 2610. (However, after exiting on 380 & the Summit Lake Road 6010, both of those require high clearance and are in far worse shape than the last time I was here several years ago.)

Not sure why it has taken me so long to give this one a try, but it has a lot of the characteristics of Cascades peaks, The approach trail accessing a ridge, then dropping to lakes - check. Steep terrain turning into a scree and cinder slog above treeline - check. Great views of multiple peaks - check - even in these smoky conditions could see Sawtooth, Cowhorn, Bailey, Thielsen & Crater Lake area poking up to the south. And the earlier accounts of mosquitos and butterflies also held. Unfortunately, even with hundreds or maybe even thousands of butterflies from the slopes below the false summit onward, they were far outnumbered by the mosquitos, especially thick near Rockpile & Marie Lakes.

The ascent route at this time of year is pretty hard to miss. I saw a dim climbers path veer up the steep bench from about the midpoint of Marie Lake and I immediately stopped trying to follow it across relatively flat terrain for 1/4 mile. Shifting over a couple of gullies, I saw tracks here and there and higher up encountered the well-worn braided climbers trail complete with intermittent cairns. This ran up against the east face and eastern crest of a ridge - nice views but a bit too much direct sun for me. It is just as easy in the shade of the center & western/left side of the ridge. Once I got up to the diminishing run of trees below the false summit, a scar is clearly visible angling up through the cinder to the false summit. It is definitely a step forward/half-step back affair. I mostly moved off this path too and picked my way through the rocky scree. The well-worn easiest paths around (and in one case over) the gendarmes are equally obvious. One or two require brief use of hands but once more snow melts out on the eastern slopes, there may be a way to avoid even that. It was very pleasant on the summit, with numerous butterflies and just enough breeze. The summit register is a yellow box of whatever people happen to have stuffed in there. I didn't dig through everything, but it is quite the miscellaneous jumble.

On the way back down (with gaiters and using the step plunge scar path), I deliberately shot just right/west of Marie Lake and after navigating through some timber, climbed directly up the nose of Diamond Rockpile. Followed the ridge back eastward to the highpoint plus a little, then descended toward the saddle back to the Rockpile Trail. Not really a shortcut but I did avoid the worst of the mosquitos.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4467 ft / 1361 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4467 ft / 1360 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.9 mi / 14.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3744 ft / 1141 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3544 ft / 1081 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Rockpile Trailhead  5200 ft / 1584 m
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4267 ft / 1300 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 3544 ft / 1081 m; Extra: 723 ft / 220m
    Gain on way out:723 ft / 220 m
    Distance:4.4 mi / 7.1 km
    Route:via Rockpile summit
    End Trailhead:Rockpile Trailhead  5200 ft / 1584 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Diamond Peak

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Diamond Peak2017-08-044467 ft / 1362 m
2Diamond Rockpile2017-08-04723 ft / 220 m
Total Trip Gain: 5190 ft / 1582 m    Total Trip Loss: 5590 ft / 1704 m

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