Diamond Head

Janet wanted to get out and I was free. We chose Saturday. East of the crest the forecast was for frozen fog. On the west side it would be clear but windy. We chose to head even farther eat to Diamond Head. My first visit was with Janet in 2011 from Blewett Pass. Last year Gary and I snowshoed up from Pipe Creek sno-park. We decided to do it from Pipe Creek. The big benefit is that Pipe Creek is a non motorized sno-park. The route just has two short sections on the main snowmobile speedway road. It is a long drive so we met in Bothell at 7:00 am. After a short stop in Cle Elum we headed up Highway 97 to Pipe Creek just south of Blewett Pass. We arrived just after 9:00 am. We were the first car to arrive. The temperature was right around freezing. We expected sunshine. Clouds began at the Cascade Crest and continued for much of our drive. It cleared a bit then we went back into clouds near Blewett Pass. On the plus side it was not at all windy.

The berm on the road/trail out of the parking lot is huge. Eight feet tall and twenty feet deep. There were snowshoe prints from a day or so earlier. We started with just boots. After about .70 miles we started to sink in the snow and stopped to put on our snowshoes. After that we did just fine. We reached a gate just before the road spits. All the snowshoe prints went right up to the gate and turned around. Nobody went beyond it. It must have been one big group or everyone just thought the gate was the end of the line.

The road/trail continues on to Swauk Meadow. I have skied down from the meadow on a number of occasions. Our route turned off right. There is enough snow to cover the ground most everywhere. In places it is up to about two feet deep. In other places it is measured in inches. Definitely not a lot of snow for mid January. We followed the road up to a bridge over a running creek. There was one log down earlier that we could go around. At the bridge we headed straight uphill. This would be the first of two off road sections. It would have been easier with more snow. Still, there was enough to make easy progress. We did have to weave around logs as they had a little snow on top but not enough to be buried. The route goes just fine and brought us up to the main road out of Blewett Pass. Just short of the road we took a food and water break.

We turned right and headed up the road. Almost immediately we saw three folks on snowcycles or whatever you call snowmobiles as narrow as motorcycles. That was about it. In .30 miles we turned off left on a large ungroomed road. There were snowmobile tracks but it had not been groomed smooth. The road climbed and where it turns 90 degrees left we headed straight ahead into the forest. The route is flat at first then begins to climb. Again, more snow would have covered logs better but we had no trouble weaving between them. I used the gps track Gary recorded the year before. It kept us on route. Our first off road section was .40 miles. The second one was .60 miles gaining 710'. The last part was the steepest but was not bad. Last year Gary and I had very soft snow and sank in deep on many steps. This year we had harder and thinner snow and made much faster progress. We reached the upper road at 5500'. That put us only about 400' below the summit of Diamond Head.

This section of road walk was only .30 miles. Other than those two .30 main road sections we were off the snowmobile route. We saw only a few of them while on the road. We saw zero snowshoers or hikers. Almost total solitude at Diamond Head. I did not expect that. We had a view out along the road and it showed nothing but clouds. I had hoped we would climb above it. We soon left the road at a signed junction. A snowmobile track headed towards the summit. It quickly ended. We were again breaking trail. This area was recently burned in a wildfire. There is now a forest of silver snags. There are also live trees still standing. Along our route we saw many pine trees and some larch trees too. There was now some cold wind. Gary and I found high winds near the summit last year. Rather than ascending the main ridge we went farther right below the ridge to get out of the wind. This time the wind eased and we headed over to the ridge. As we climbed the snow thinned fast. We were soon seeing more grass and rocks than snow.

Wind scoured the ridge top. Going right provided enough snow to keep our snowshoes on. I did not want to have to take them off then put them pack on again. Suddenly the clouds parted. We were above them with great views to Mt. Stuart and Teanaway Peaks. A really spectacular view. Below us the valley and Swauk Pass were buried in low white clouds. I love being above the clouds with snowy mountain views all around. We found a spot out of the wind and sat down for lunch. It was now 12:37 pm. We took just under 3.5 hours coming up. The sun felt warm. The views were spectacular. I wish we could have spent an hour on top. Unfortunately, this time of year it get dark by 5:00 pm. We had a long drive home. All to soon, we started down at 1:14 pm. We did have 37 minutes on top.

The trip back was faster. It was almost entirely downhill. We had a track to follow and packed snow. This was my first snowshoe trip of the season. With a winter weight pack and the snowshoes it was a lot of work. I was glad to reach the car. The last mile seemed to drag on. There were no new tracks until we were within a mile of the sno-park. Not many folks were on this route this day. There were two cars in the lot when we returned. On the drive home we were in clouds most of the way back to Snoqualmie Pass. On the west side it was a sunny day in the mid 50s. We were not that warm but we had great snowshoeing conditions and great views. It was nice to get out with Janet again and this route is becoming a winter favorite.

Sunrise On The Drive
Parking Lot
Snow Pile At Start
First Junction
Road Walk
Cross Country Leg
Nearing The Main Road
Leaving Side Road
Climbing Through Forest
Janet On Upper Road
Very Cloudy
Blue Sky & Sunshine
Sliver Forest
Not A Lot Of Snow
Heading To Summit
Clouds Blowing By
Mt. Stuart Appears
Stuart & Ingalls
Sun On Thin Snow
At Cloud Level
Lunch Spot
Peaks To The West
Stuart Closer
Mt. Rainier
Red Top Lookout
Lunch View
Edge Of Clouds
Heading Down
Stuart From Road
Leaving Road
Road Junction
Descending Road
Back Cross Country
Road Slog
Gate Stops Everyone Else
Two Cars In Lot
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019