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| | |-+  January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
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Author Topic: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North  (Read 3136 times)
frankfrank
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January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« on: 01/24/13, 11:06 AM »



How to make use of this last week's exceptional weather? I couldn't find any partners interested in doing an overnight trip (admittedly, my first ideas probably sounded like no fun, with many miles of road skiing involved), so, being a carless dirtbag, my solo trip would be planned around a bus ride from Eugene to the Willamette Pass resort on Saturday morning. (A ride back another day wouldn't be guaranteed, but that's less important, right?) And from there, Diamond Peak, about 10 miles south, should be easily within reach, given three days to work with. This north side route to the summit is surprisingly included in Klindt Vielbig's "Cross-Country Ski Routes Oregon" book, but I have never read any reports from any approaches other than the SW side.

Upon arrival at Willamette Pass Saturday morning, I grabbed my gear from under the bus, skated past the bunny hill, and disappeared into the mossy woods toward the PCT while the rest of the riders were casually preparing for the lifts to start running. I crossed the highway and found the trail from there to be a well-beaten snowshoe track. Travel was pretty quick with XCD skis on this gently rolling and icy trail. I made it to my intended camp on the ridge between Mount Yoran and Diamond Peak without much trouble at all, thanks to tracks from a skier or two that had gone the same way in the previous days and camped a bit back, above Lils Lake.

After setting up camp, I went to climb the 400ft up to South Yoran (or whatever it's called, at 7138ft) before dark. I skinned across its smooth face as the surface snow was firming up again, then walked up the last bit of its ridge. The view of Diamond Peak gave some clues about the next day's route, but most of it was in dim shadow and indistinct. Meanwhile, the cloudless sky made a textbook-perfect illustration of the surprisingly complex atmospheric optics of twilight, all pure color gradients with an especially strong earth shadow in the east and that unusual violet high in the west. (The textbook to which I refere here is Minnaert's "The Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air", p268-275.) Skiing back down was a lot of sideslipping and some riding of the snow waves on the ridge. Then dinner, and sleep, but mostly just a long time of moonlit semi-darkness.

I waited before leaving Sunday morning, hoping to let the snow surfaces above soften some. The tracks that I had been following continued up here, through some nice patches of settled powder in the thinning trees, but then disappeared above treeline where all surfaces turned to windpack, sastrugi, and ice. I was able to skin up the north ridge to below the rocky first false summit. There were two more false summits to traverse around beyond this, and nothing looked skiable. The shaded slopes on the left were smooth hard ice, while the sunlit slopes on the right were rime chunks in a softening base, so I put crampons on and went right. I passed similarly below the second false summit, keeping my eyes on its cliffs as it let a few small pieces of ice cascade down the slope. The third false summit, from this perspective, is a broad cone, and I was hoping that its east side would be soft and skiable, but it was just as icy as everything else. So I walked up to its top and considered things. I finally had a view of the true summit and of another complex ridge traverse between. I had been there before from the other side, and today, it wouldn't earn me any more skiing or a better view (which was already perfect, everything from Hood to McLoughlin, plus the poor fogged-in valley), so I was satisfied to make this, at 8629ft, my turnaround point.

I wasn't looking forward to cramponing down the rest of the route, but I still couldn't see anything that I'd want to ski. Even the ridge that I had skinned up could be difficult to descend, since some spots were just a finger of snow pasted to a sheet of ice. But upon reaching the saddle between the second and first false summits, I noticed a shallow bowl down to the NE from there, opposite of the side I had passed before. It actually looked like a consistent slope of soft week-old powder (perhaps the only well-preserved slope on the whole long NE face), and it led fairly directly back to camp. So I put skis on and went. It ended up being somewhat stiff, so jump turns were required to keep edges free near the top, but as the angle eased, turns became more natural. The rest of the run back toward camp was great fun across the rippled low-angle slopes just above treeline (still watching carefully for ice). Then another lazy afternoon, evening, and night at camp.

In the course of Monday's glide back to Willamette Pass, I passed again below the SE face of South Yoran. Brightly lit at 10am, it looked like perfect corn. So I left my big pack there on the trail at the bottom of the open slopes, booted up, and had a joyous 500ft run. The rest of the ski back took barely 2 hours, in a fast icy track. I should have taken a couple more laps...

I thought that I might be able to make some friends at Gold Lake Sno Park and arrange a way back home. It was fairly busy, due to the holiday, but the patrol cabin wasn't open, and no deals were made by the time 3pm passed. That was my cutoff time to ski back to the resort parking lot and inquire about the bus or see if downhillers are any more sensitive to the plight of this dirtbag (though I did have a good snow bath that morning and a fresh change of clothes...). Thankfully, the bus to Eugene, which had been full in the morning, had one open spot on the way back. This also meant that I got to enjoy a screening of Happy Feet 2 to accompany the return to the foggy lowlands. Nice.

I apologize for the tedious detail here, but I thought it was unusual enough to be interesting. I don't see much about winter travel above treeline in Oregon aside from Mount Hood, and I've never seen this particular route reported on. I would certainly do it again, given good weather. It could be done in two days, with only 20mi distance and about 4000ft gain. Three days could be better used if ski conditions up high were decent. Big thanks go to the skiers who made the perfectly-routed track all the way out the PCT a few days earlier and to the one resort skier, who, for whatever reason, gave up his/her spot for the bus back on Monday.

Sunday's route

South Yoran


at South Yoran summit


sunset on the Three Sisters


false summits: second, first, third (left to right)


below the north ridge (later descent route right along shadow line)


past first false summit


below second false summit


not for skiing


second false summit from above


view of true summit


northeast bowl


windblown surface below northeast face


morning corn on South Yoran
« Last Edit: 01/24/13, 11:42 AM by frankfrank » Logged
Micah
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #1 on: 01/24/13, 11:47 AM »

That was a really interesting report. Thanks! Lot's of cool trips reported during the recent clear weather. Too bad I spent the whole time working!
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jtack
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Posts: 665


Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #2 on: 01/24/13, 06:46 PM »

Nice trip report, I really like the three pictures of the sunset on the Sisters. thanks 
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OldHouseMan
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Posts: 259


Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #3 on: 01/24/13, 09:53 PM »

Nice pics and a good read. Thanks for sharing.
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garrettww
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #4 on: 01/24/13, 10:11 PM »

Too bad I spent the whole time working!

Same here...but I do appreciate the trip reports and quality photos, they motivate me to find a job with more free time!
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rootsman
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #5 on: 01/25/13, 01:42 AM »


Great report, very interesting.

Oregon represent!
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Outsiders, in an outsider's sport, doing in outside. That's like...rocking the triple entendre!
davidG
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #6 on: 01/25/13, 05:57 AM »

Love it!  Big fan of adventurous XCD routes.  Well told.
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"Maybe we should ban hikers from anywhere that there is a potential threat to surface water?"   [courtesy Newtrout, 2011]

"Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you."  [courtesy mikerolfs, 2014]
nemolonsdale
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #7 on: 01/25/13, 06:30 AM »

That pic of the sisters is first class. Great trip report. thanks for da stoke.
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gfunk
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Posts: 48


Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #8 on: 01/25/13, 07:33 AM »

Looks gorgeous, thanks for the tr. How is Thielson looking? I've always wanted to get up there with skis. Also, what's your secret to posting so many pics rather than being limited to three low quality ones?
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frankfrank
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #9 on: 01/25/13, 09:14 AM »

Thanks for all the comments! I only saw Thielsen from a distance, backlit (it's on the horizon in the "view of true summit" photo), and I have only been there in the summer, so can't say much. And the secret for the photos is to upload them first to flickr (or some other site, like photobucket), then find the URLs for each image, and insert those into the text of the post enclosed in img tags.
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JoeMack
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Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #10 on: 01/25/13, 01:06 PM »

Thanks for a well written TR and great photos. It nice to see Diamond from a different perspective.
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KLW
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Posts: 112


Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #11 on: 01/26/13, 09:17 AM »

Great TR! I was one of the party of two that camped just above Lils Lake. We broke fresh trail above the lake but that skin track into Lils is from an area resident who's been heading out there after every significant snow fall. Or at least thats what I heard from the folks at Willamette Mountain Mercantile in Oakridge.

Awesome touring in there and lots of great ski terrain. As long as one doesn't mind the long, flattish approach. Beefier XCD gear is the bomb for this sort of trip.

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Timstirling
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Posts: 40


Re: January 19-21, 2013, Diamond Peak OR, from North
« Reply #12 on: 01/27/13, 07:51 PM »

Great report, I have looked at that route on a map before as it seems like on of the only options in winter. But I am not a fan of long approaches and or over night trips. Well overnight is ok getting to a base camp but I would want good vertical the second day. SW chutes are just so much fun and solid day trip. See my trip report for Phil last year, can't wait for a eat this year.
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