Diamond Peak (Oregon Cascades; 8,744')

Diamond Peak is a highly eroded volcano just south of Highway 58. In summer it's an off-trail hike on scree slopes; in winter or spring it provides a nice ski trip.

Diamond Peak from the north in early October
Topo Map
Routes: S Slopes (I, 2nd class or easy snow climb, moderate ski descent)
SW Ridge/SW Bowl (I, 2nd class or easy snow climb, moderate ski descent)
NW Ridge/N Bowl (easy snow climb with some exposure, moderate ski descent)

References: N.A. Dodge, A Climbing Guide to Oregon , Touchstone Press (Beaverton, OR 1975)

Date: May 12, 2012

Party: DB solo

Route: NW Ridge/N Bowl, skis

Equipment: AT skis

Time: Pioneer Gulch Road at ~4,700' - Summit 4 hrs 15 mins
Summit - Pioneer Gulch Road at ~4,700' 1 hr 45 mins
Roundtrip from Trailhead 7 hrs 15 mins

Comments: Snow line was at 5,000'. Very good conditions.

Trip report: After another cold and wet spring the weather suddenly stabilized, and I decided to finally check out the north side of Diamond Peak, approaching via Corrigan Lake. I was able to drive to about 4,700', where a snow bank blocked the road. The snow line proper was just below the Corrigan Lake Trailhead, at about 5,000', and a 20-minute hike got me there.

I started out in sneakers, carrying my skis and boots, and switched to skinning at 5,500'. I must have passed close to the lake, but I did not see it either on my way up or on my way down (I was to skier's right of it). Skinning conditions were good, and I reached treeline at about 7,200' surprisingly fast. I traversed the gentle lower slopes of Point 8,306, and crested its north ridge at about 7,800'. From there I climbed the ridge for a few hundred vertical feet, and then traversed into the saddle between the main summit and Point 8,306. Impressive cornices on the ridge above me clearly were in the business of regularly sending stuff down, so I did not linger longer than necessary in the debris zone. However, none of these blocks of snow and ice had set of slides, and so I figured I would not either. From the saddle I skinned to the main summit via the NW Ridge.

It was a gorgeous day, and on the summit I recognized a few familiar voices (it was difficult to recognized people by sight because of the severe sun protection measures that were necessary), so I was not the only one who had taken advantage of the good weather. After a leisurely lunch break I skied down the NW Ridge for a little bit, and then cut right to gain the North Bowl. The next 1,200 vertical feet were spectacular! Unfortunately, I had to start traversing at some point in order to not miss the access point to the Corrigan Lake drainage. The skiing was still pretty good even in the forest, only below 6,000' it started to deteriorate. I managed to ski to 5,300', then carried my skis down to the road and finished via a long glide followed by a short walk back to my car.

It was a spectacularly nice trip; the best I had in quite a while. Also, the north side is more impressive, and offers a much more alpine feeling and much better views on the way up than the SW Ridge, while the skiing is about the same in terms of quality and difficulty. I can't believe I had never done this route before!

Photo Gallery:

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Main summit (right) and Point 8,306 (left) from near Corrigan Lake.

View north on Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood from treeline.

Point 8,306 from the north.

The main summit from the North Ridge of Point 8,306.

View north (Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson) from the North Ridge of Point 8,306.

Me on the summit.

View north from the summit.

View of Point 8,306 from the main summit. Note my traversing skin tracks.

My tracks in the North Bowl.

View of Point 8,306 during the descent.

The end of the snow.

Date: May 20, 2011

Party: DB solo

Route: SW Ridge/SW Bowl, skis

Equipment: AT skis

Time: Pioneer Gulch Road at ~4,300' - Summit 5 hrs 10 mins
Summit - Pioneer Gulch Road at ~4,300' 2 hrs 10 mins
Roundtrip from Trailhead 8 hrs 15 mins

Comments: Very low snow line due to a severe La Niña

Trip report: The weather was even worse than the previous spring, but May 19 and 20 were a rare exception. I caught the tail end of that brief window. My idea had been to check out the north side of the mountain via Corrigan Lake, but when I ran into an icy snow bank at 4,300' I changed my mind in favor of the west side, as hiking or skinning up an icy road for quite a distance in the wrong direction didn't seem right.

This made the trip pretty much a repeat of last year's. One notable difference was that the snow in the bowl was really good; not quite corn, but getting there. This made for extremely good skiing for the first 2,500' vertical or so; then came the usual survival skiing through the woods on marginal snow.

Nice trip, but next year I'll have to try the north side!

Photo Gallery:

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Diamond Peak above the flat area at ~5,500'.

Cowhorn Mountain above Summit Lake as seen on the ascent.

View of the main summit from the south summit.

The corniced summit ridge.

View north from the summit: The Three Sisters above the north summit.

My tracks in the bowl.

Date: May 30, 2010

Party: DB solo

Route: SW Ridge/SW Bowl, ski descent

Equipment: AT skis

Time: Pioneer Gulch Trailhead - Summit 4 hrs 35 mins
Summit - Trailhead 1 hr 50 mins
Roundtrip from Trailhead 7 hrs 20 mins

Comments: Less than ideal conditions

Trip report: The weather had been miserable all spring, and I caught a brief break over Memorial Day Weekend. I left the Pioneer Gulch trailhead at 8am and gained almost 1,000' of elevation before hitting the snow line at around 5,500'. I switched from sneakers to boots and made very slow progress postholing for the next half an hour. It was obvious that it had been snowing a lot lately on not much of a base. As soon as there was enough snow cover I switched to skins, which worked much better, and skinned up the ridge to the false summit and on to the true summit. The snow pack looked decent for late May; the lousy spring helped some after a very dry winter. A large party was skiing the North Bowl, and two of them had come up to the summit, but otherwise I was by myself.

I dropped into the bowl directly from the summit. The snow was decent for a while, but turned too soft pretty soon. I did not help that it was the first reasonably warm day in quite a while. Still, the skiing was fun. I traversed back to the south side of the ridge at around 6,000' and managed to not only ski to the true snow line at 5,500', but also to actually hit the trail at that point. Half an hour later I was back at the car, just as it started to drizzle; I had caught the weather window perfectly.

Photo Gallery:

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The flats around 6,000'.

View South from the lower part of the ridge.

Cowhorn Mt. across Summit Lake. Mt. Thielsen in the background.

Approaching the true summit.

View North from the summit.

On the summit.

View NW from the summit.

View back to the summit from the bowl.

The bowl from the lower part of the ridge.

Back in the forest.

For earlier ascents, click here .