Archive for the ‘Diamond Peak’ Category

First and Last Backpack of the Season: Divide Lake

Posted by julie on Monday, 10 October 2016, 12:08




Is it October? Are the windows of sunshine short and powerful and even more precious after days of rain? Then it’s time to go backpacking before that window closes for good! For our first and last backpack of the season, we hiked to Divide Lake, nestled under Mt. Yoran (yes, there were lots of urine jokes) and just northwest of Diamond Peak in Oregon’s Diamond Peak Wilderness.


My all-time favorite mountain, Diamond Peak, displaying it’s early-season mantle of snow.
The contrails were quite persistent this weekend, which happens, I’ve read, when the stratosphere is humid.

Our trip was sandwiched between a dance class and a soccer game, so, door-to-door, we were gone 24 hours. Even more notably, I don’t think we heard a single complaint, even though Elena’s grown-up-sized backpack was digging into her shoulders.


Elena pointing out the beautiful fall color of the huckleberries

The hike to Divide Lake is 3.7-4 miles with 1000-1200 feet of elevation gain, depending on your source. We forgot any real trail motivators–jelly beans or sour gummy candy–but the kids stayed motivated by coming up with silly book titles and authors. This started with Urine Lake, by I.P. Freely; my favorite, however, was Coyotes, by J.K. Howling.

Most of the uphill to Divide Lake is in the middle mile and a half, so the last ridge walk is a welcome and beautiful cruise into the lake. New snow near the lake meant damp socks, snowballs, and cold fingers! We ran into more people on this beautiful October day (five day-hikers and two backpackers) than we usually see on a summer weekend in Oregon. The backpackers, camped at Divide Lake, had shortened their trip after realizing that there’s already real snow in the mountains.

Once we found a campsite, layered up, and set up our tents, we grabbed our headlamps and headed to an outcrop overlooking the lake, where we ate our take-out burritos as the sky darkened.


Why don’t we have campfires more often?

At 5 a.m., Sylvan coaxed me out of my tent to come sleep under the stars with him. He saw an impressive 11 meteorites before falling back to sleep (We realized before we left town that the Draconids meteor shower would be in full swing, so we knew to be on the lookout.).


Managed to get the bathing suit on, even though the temperature was in the 30s


But this kid is tougher than Mom. He actually swam in the lake, despite the sun still being behind the ridge!

A superb trip. This spot’s a keeper, and so is my beautiful family, with a husband who said, “Yes, let’s go backpacking” (even though we had just 24 hours), and held me to it and kids who are just plain fun and awesome. Oh, and we even heard pikas, the cutest of all the lagomorphs!

Look, we can even be nearly normal. At Notch Lake, because the sun was never shining while we were at Divide Lake.

Look, we can even be nearly normal.
At Notch Lake, because the sun was never up while we were at Divide Lake.







Diamond Peak in May, Take 2

Posted by julie on Monday, 7 May 2012, 14:30

I’ve started my volcano habit early this year, specifically my Diamond Peak habit. I’ve hoped to ski down Diamond Peak for a few years, and yesterday was my day. The weather report said 70 and sunny in town, which boded well for a bluebird day in the mountains.

Seven years ago (!), Chris and I backpacked into Diamond Rockpile, at the south end of Diamond Peak, with him carrying most of the gear and me carrying my belly with a 25-week-old Sylvan inside (photo available here). The following morning, we snowshoed up the south end on a route I’ve taken a few times since, but always when the snow has melted. The route that day was wind-scoured and scary. I was apprehensive about: climbing a mountain with a bean inside me; ever being able to climb a mountain again; and the mostly-melted-out summit ridge, which looked hairy and difficult. We stopped and turned around at that south, false summit seven years ago. Yesterday the summit ridge was a highway, wide and accommodating of the 21 total people we saw on the mountain:

Wide, lovely summit ridge, with group just leaving false summit. Notice the fantastic cornices and the STEEP east side drop. That's Summit Lake in the background, the most heavily mosquitoed place I've ever been - but not in May!

My climbing buddy, Wayne, and I left Pleasant Hill at 6:30 a.m., and, after a short hike from the car up a road not quite passable yet due to snow, we were stepping into our skis around 9 a.m. We started near the Pioneer Gulch trail, but to avoid the walk on snowless trail we walked up the road a little higher into an old clearcut, perfect for finding more snow. After some route-finding for complete snow passages through manzanita and small Doug firs, we got high enough to find more snow, and we were on our way uphill, 4000 feet in four miles.

A prominent west ridge at the south end of Diamond Peak was our, and everyone else’s, route. Climbing skins and climbing wires on my bindings made the climb possible. I did take off my skis for some very steep, 3-4 foot steps that I just didn’t feel confident negotiating with skis on. There was also some rime ice at about 8000 feet for which I de-skied in order not to slide too far down the mountain.

Flags of rime, with Mt. Thielsen in the background

We climbed steadily, and, when we popped out on the south summit, we both agreed that the south slope looked like nice, mellow skiing compared to the steeper bowls, which sounded a little icy at the top whenever anyone skied down them. We skied the summit ridge easily, since it was wide and inviting, staying away from the corniced east side. In no time, we were on the summit, eating cheese and snapping pictures.

Diamond Peak's north ridges, with Willamette Pass Ski Area behind and Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and South and Middle Sister to the left (from right to left)

And then it was time for the glorious ski down. Nice softened snow, skiing in a T-shirt, perfect slopes, “adventure” skiing through the trees lower down. Highly recommended.

My turns