Ascent of Diamond Peak on 2015-08-13

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, August 13, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Diamond Peak
    Elevation:12197 ft / 3717 m

Ascent Trip Report

I turned off ID-28 on the Pass Creek access road, seeing the sign for it a ways in from the highway. Using Rob Woodall's GPS track that included his drive, I followed the reasonably good road in for a mile or so, and at an obscure unsigned intersection I turned right and drove across the shallow creek and then up across the rolling sagebrush plains. The road was a bit rough but my Subaru was doing OK, the scary sections being two steep dips into valleys.

The road took me to the summit of a low hill, and here I noticed that my gas warning light came on. Dumb move, I forgot to tank up in Salmon last night. From the hill the road went steeply downhill and got quite a bit rougher, I could see. So I parked--I didn't want to stall out from lack of gas on steeply angled dirt roads that might tip my tank too far the wrong way.

Besides, I happened to have a mountain bike with me. So I assembled it, put on my pack, and cruised on down the hill, then up a bit, then across a traverse to a 4-way junction. Here I turned right, steeply uphill, and I soon stashed the bike--the road was too steep to pedal up and too dangerous to ride down anyway. I had biked almost 2 miles, saving me time over walking and also wear and tear on my car.

I followed the 4x4 track uphill very steeply to where even jeeps would have to park, then the trail continuation to a small cliff band. Here the trail suddenly vanished, and I guess Diamond-bound hikers just fan out across the grass-and-forest slope above in random patterns. I did a lot of sidehilling through the sparse trees (the only ones on the route) before emerging at a pleasant grassy col.

From here the route was obvious, up the spine of the ridge to a very clear path. The trail soon became a braided mass of steep scree chutes, which made for annoying hiking as the trail gained the main ridge crest. Once on the ridge the going was easy and fun for a while as the ridge turned right (NW) and then curved to the W a bit. There were sections of footway along here.

Suddenly the ridge was blocked by a large gendarme, and the remainder of the trip was a scramble up a very sharp and blocky ridge. It looked like there were lots of scree chutes to the right that descended a bit to bypass obstacles, but I was having fun doing the class 3 climbing closer to the crest and avoiding unnecessary elevation loss. It was a pretty sustained scrambling workout. Once I tried to bypass a pinnacle to the left, and soon found myself in a class 4 zone, so I retreated.

Near the summit I was getting tired a bit, and the altitude was getting to me a little, too. So I was happy to clamber over the last few false summit towers and reach the nice, spacious summit area. I took a nice long break here, eating my lunch and looking through the register and seeing many familiar names. Views were good, but I could see mare's tales of rain over Borah Peak to the west. So I left after about 45 minutes on top.

My descent was uneventful. I bypassed more gendarmes on the upper ridge, not wanting to downclimb the steeper sections near the crest. I was able to scree-ski part of the braided trails, but parts of it were dry hardpan and difficult. At the grassy col, I decided to stay on the ridge to a very minor sub-summit topped by a huge cairn, hoping to avoid sidehilling, but the descent from the large cairn on steep grassy terrain was still not easy.

At the little cliff band the trail suddenly appeared again, and I was soon back at my bike and a short ride in the afternoon heat brought me down to near my car, with only a grueling 200' ascent needed to get back. It never rained on me, and I never saw another soul all day.

I was happy to coast downhill to the main Pass Creek Road, and once out on ID-28 I went 2 miles north to the little gas station at Lone Pine. But they were out of gas--terrible luck! So I had to drive in a very fuel-efficient manner (lowest speed in highest gear) for 28 miles to Mud Lake, ID, which I made with no issues.

A personal note: My friend Edward Earl had invited me on his Diamond Peak trip back in 2007, right after our Hilgard Peak climb, but I had to be back at work soon so I declined. He later told me it was one of the most fun scrambles he had ever done and wished I had been there. Now, 8 years later, I was enroute to the memorial service for Edward in Montana--he had perished during a river crossing recently in Alaska.

His family had asked me to bring some of Edward's stuff with me from his condo, including his mountain bike. So I definitely felt some positive energy from my departed friend as I used his bike to help me bag an ultra that he had enjoyed. R.I.P., Edward.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5167 ft / 1573 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5477 ft / 1668 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.3 mi / 16.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3+
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Some rain in the distance
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4967 ft / 1513 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4587 ft / 1398 m; Extra: 380 ft / 115m
    Loss on way in:380 ft / 115 m
    Distance:5.1 mi / 8.2 km
    Route:East Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Pass Creek Rd System  7610 ft / 2319 m
    Time:4 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5097 ft / 1553 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4897 ft / 1492 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Route:East Ridge
    End Trailhead:Pass Creek Rd System  7300 ft / 2225 m
    Time:2 Hours 50 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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