Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
  Lassen Peak
  Mount Shasta
  Medicine Lake Volcano
  Mount McLoughlin
  Pelican Butte
  Crater Lake
  Mount Bailey
  Mount Thielsen
  Diamond Peak
  Newberry Volcano
  Mount Bachelor
  Broken Top
  Three Sisters
  Mount Washington
  Three Fingered Jack
  Mount Jefferson
  Mount Hood
  Mount Saint Helens
  Mount Adams
  Goat Rocks
  Mount Rainier
  Glacier Peak
  Mount Baker
  Mount Garibaldi
  Mount Cayley
  Mount Meager

| Diamond Peak from the south across Summit Lake in July
(photo by Amar Andalkar)   <click to enlarge>

Diamond Peak
    8744 ft (2665 m) .
Location: Cascade Range, central Oregon,
50 miles (80 km) SW of Bend
Lat / Long: 43.5° N, 122.2° W
Volcanic Type: Eroded shield volcano
Volcanic Status: Dormant / extinct
First Ascent: John Diamond & William Macy, 1852
First Ski Descent:
Skiable Vertical: up to 5000 ft (1500 m)
Timberline: 7000-7500 ft (2150-2300 m)
Administration: Willamette National Forest / Deschutes National Forest
Protection Status:   Diamond Peak Wilderness
User Fees: Northwest Forest Pass required for parking
(Sno-Park Permit from November-April)

Although Diamond Peak is certainly not one of the more well-known Cascade volcanoes, its bulky profile is nevertheless prominently visible from viewpoints along nearly the entire length of the Oregon Cascades, from Mount Jefferson all the way south to Mount McLoughlin. Like so many of the Oregon volcanoes, Diamond Peak is a shield volcano, which is in somewhat of an intermediate state of erosion compared to nearby Mounts Bailey and Thielsen. Huge cirques have been carved into the northwest, northeast, and southeast sides, removing all traces of any summit crater and dividing the summit area into a number of peaks connected by rotten, pinnacled lava ridges. In the largest two cirques on the northwest, the inner core of the volcano has been well exposed, revealing a variety of lava flows and intrusive conduits. Diamond Peak is located somewhat farther west than most other Oregon volcanoes and is directly on the Cascade Crest, resulting in heavy snowfalls and a deep snowpack which lingers on many aspects into midsummer. Despite its modest elevation, it supports several permanent snowfields (glacial remnants) in the deep recesses of the northwest cirques, which were likely active glaciers less than a century ago. Diamond Peak is the most remote of the Oregon volcanoes, with western approaches requiring over 20 miles of forest service roads from Highway 58 and eastern approaches about 10 miles by trail from the highway at Willamette Pass.

Route Ratings Starting
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
Summit Ski Mountaineering Routes:  
West Ridge / SW Face
  (from Corrigan Lake)

5000 ft
(1500 m)
3700 ft
(1100 m)
8 miles
(13 km)
The shortest access to Diamond Peak is from the Corrigan Lake trailhead on the southwest side, where a number of forest roads skirt the edge of the designated Wilderness. The west ridge and southwest face are an excellent day trip in spring, and a fine overnight trip even in winter, when access requires skiing several extra miles of road. However, its combined windward and sunward exposure results in rapid loss of snowpack, and the nicely-pitched upper slopes are typically bare well before the end of spring. A much better choice then is to descend via the huge cirque of the Northwest Bowl, which holds its snowpack exceptionally well. Upper portions of the bowl are quite steep, and often have large cornices and near-vertical walls of windsculpted snow along the edges. This route does require a long flat/upward traverse near 6000 ft to return to the trailhead. An alternate approach in late spring is to start from the Bear Mountain trailhead, which saves 1000 ft of elevation gain at the expense of a couple extra miles of easy trail.
(See my upcoming ski trip report from July 2000.)
Northwest Bowls
  (from Corrigan Lake)

3700 ft
(1100 m)
-300 ft
(-100 m)
9 miles
(14 km)
  (late spring access
   from Bear Mountain)

6000 ft
(1800 m)
2700 ft
(800 m)
-300 ft
(-100 m)
10 miles
(16 km)
Northwest Bowls
  (from Hemlock Butte area)

5100 ft
(1550 m)
3600 ft
(1100 m)
10 miles
(16 km)
The excellent spring skiing in the Northwest Bowls can also be reached from the Hemlock Butte area to the northwest of Diamond Peak. This area offers the shortest road approach and most direct line into the bowls, at the cost of some extra skiing or hiking distance. However, this route eliminates the long traverse needed at the end of the descent to return to Corrigan Lake. In spring, this is also the shortest approach to the Northwest and North Ridges, which offer a longer but gentler route which traverses the entire summit ridge of Diamond Peak.
North / NW Ridge
  (from Hemlock Butte area)

5300 ft
(1600 m)
3900 ft
(1200 m)
-500 ft
(-150 m)
15 miles
(24 km)
North / NW Ridge
  (from Willamette Pass)

5100 ft
(1550 m)
4100 ft
(1250 m)
-500 ft
(-150 m)
21 miles
(34 km)
This long route follows the Pacific Crest Trail southwest from Willamette Pass, and during winter and early spring is the shortest access to the north and east sides of Diamond Peak. After several miles of gently rolling ascent, the trail leads to timberline just south of Mount Yoran, a prominent eroded volcanic horn at the base of the northwest ridge. This ridge leads directly to the north summit, and a short descending then ascending traverse leads to the south (true) summit. For the descent, a much steeper option is to ski the northeast face, although in early season the avalanche hazard may be severe on this leeward, wind-loaded aspect.
Northeast Face
  (from Willamette Pass)

South Ridge
  (from Marie Lake trailhead)

5200 ft
(1600 m)
3500 ft
(1050 m)
10 miles
(16 km)
From the summit of Diamond Peak, the broad Southeast Bowl is a tempting-looking descent, with a steep pitch and numerous skiable lines amongst a series of large lava pinnacles. However, returning to the standard Corrigan Lake trailhead after this descent involves a very long and flat traverse. A better option if planning this descent is to start from the Marie Lake trailhead, and ascend the South Ridge, which leads very directly (but not too steeply) to the true summit. Descend either along the ascent route or by dropping east into the Southeast Bowl, whereby a gentle descending traverse easily returns to Marie Lake.
Southeast Bowl
  (via South Ridge)

11 miles
(18 km)

Upcoming additions: Topographic map showing ski routes.

| Sunset view of Diamond Peak from the northwest near Hemlock Butte in July.
The Northwest Bowls just below the rightmost (true) summit hold a deep snowpack
even into summer.   (photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

| Panoramic view looking south from the summit of Mount Bachelor in June. digitally composited from four photographs.
Diamond Peak is the most prominent snow-covered summit at right center. Other snowy volcanoes visible along the horizon
include (left to right) Mount Shasta, Mount Thielsen, Mount Bailey, and Maiden Peak.   (photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

Useful Web Links:

Willamette National Forest: Home Page
Willamette National Forest: Diamond Peak Wilderness
Deschutes National Forest: Home Page
Deschutes National Forest: Recreation Report
Deschutes National Forest: Diamond Peak Wilderness
National Weather Service Office: Portland, OR
Yahoo! Weather: Willamette Pass, OR, Forecast
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Diamond Peak
Deschutes National Forest: Oregon Volcanoes: Diamond Peak

List of Guidebooks:  (detailed references on the bibliography page)

Cross Country Ski Routes in Oregon West and north routes (skiing info)
Oregon Descents West routes (skiing info)

List of Maps:

Map Series Scale Topo? Map Names Year Notes
USGS 7.5-minute 1:24,000 Yes, 40 ft Diamond Peak
Willamette Pass
Emigrant Butte
Cowhorn Mountain
Standard USGS maps, the first one covers nearly all
  of the routes; it is also a new "single-edition" map,
  enhanced with Forest Service information
Geo-Graphics 1:42,240 Yes, 80 ft Diamond Peak Wilderness 1998
A decent map, but with awkward shading. Useful for eastern
  road approaches, and includes info about Diamond Peak on back
US Forest Service 1:126,720 No Willamette National Forest 1996 Very helpful for forest road information for western approach

More photos, routes, links, references, etc. coming soon...
Please contact me with any suggestions, additions, or corrections.

Previous Page (Mount Thielsen) | Diamond Peak | Next Page (Newberry Volcano)
Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
All material on this website is ©1997-2024 by Amar Andalkar unless otherwise noted.
Page content last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003
PHP script last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2020