Even before we reached the small Nevada town of Eureka,
we could see Diamond Peak long before during the drive in.
Big black clouds hung over the peak and since thunderstorm activity was present over many of the mountains we had passed on the way, we figured that Diamond would have to wait until the next morning. Dennis Poulin and myself had just completed climbing Bunker Hill in nearby Lander county and we had originally hoped we could pull off a double, getting both Bunker and Diamond on the same day. Thunderstorm activity was enough to thwart those ambitions so we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and get set up to do it on the morrow.
We went into Eureka, another of those neat little Nevada towns whose history was linked with gold or silver mining and found a
place to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately, we weren't quite as successful as we were in Austin the day before but the little fast food place we did find made a reasonable hamburger with a good stack of fries to satisfy our hunger. At the gas station (Eureka has two of them), I asked about where we might find camping and the lady directed us to a place up the road. It catered to the RV crowd and sat right next to the highway so we opted to go find something close to the trailhead.
We followed the great directions of Ken Jones which go like this "At the north end of Eureka, there is a paved road branching off US 50 with a sign indicating "dump." Turn onto this paved road and reset your odometer. At 1.3 miles, turn right (still paved), again following landfill signs. At 1.7 miles the landfill is a right turn, but you will continue straight ahead onto a gravel road. At 3.7 miles, bear right, staying on the main road. At 4.6 miles keep left - the right fork (which is a better road) heads onto Baumann's Ranch. At 5.3 miles keep left at a minor junction. At 8.9 miles, just before the main road reaches its highest point, turn left onto a high clearance, 4WD road. At 10.7 miles from US 50 bear left at a minor fork and gate toward and past Poison Spring. Follow this road up over a saddle and down, then up, to the stock tank at 11.0 miles from US 50. We did not choose to drive the more exciting-looking tracks up to the ridge, but walked instead. "
Thanks to Ken we went the western route and it was a great way to go. We passed a lot of hunting camps on the way and when we got to the saddle with the stock tank, we eased our vehicles about another quarter mile up the jeep road and found a spot next to a tree to camp for the night. Since we sleep in our vehicles, we didn't worry about all the scrub type of brush around nor the myriads of cow pies that littered the vacinity.
We drove up the jeep road in Dennis's vehicle until it became so much a 4WD road that his 2WD couldn't go any further. We now knew how much we'd have to do the next day and planned accordingly.
The clouds that were present the previous afternoon were pretty much gone the next morning as we got up early and made our way up to the spot on the jeep road where we could park Dennis's vehicle. We had one gate to pass through and open and close but just prior to going through the gate we had a chance to talk to a hunter who had his camp close to the track and it was interesting to hear how his week had gone. He was a fellow who had grown up in nearby Eureka but had since been living in Reno. He knew the area and where we were heading and told us we were fortunate not to have been in the area just a couple days prior because they had had a duesy of an electrical storm, a real "turd floater" kind. His words, not mine but they were colorful in such a way as to explain what he considered a lot of rain. That was the reason why we couldn't get further up the 4WD road, that storm had done some damage to the road bed and left it in a condition that you truly did need to have 4WD to go any further. Not being able to get all the way up the road added about two miles and 500 feet to our effort.
After we parked our vehicle, we got out and were ready to head up the road when two hunters in a 4WD pickup came by and wanted to know if we'd seen any deer. They continued on when we answered in the negative and we pretty much kept up with them as they labored up the road in their lowest gear. After about a mile, we reached a saddle and could see where the normal TH was. The road dropped down about 400 feet and then headed up to a spot where most people, even in 4WD would have to park. We decided to go straight up the hill to our east and contour around Alpha peak and then drop a bit to a saddle that would allow us to access the south ridge that would lead up to Diamond's summit.
Up we went on an ATV road that did indeed go almost straight up. I could barely walk it it was so steep and it was hard to imagine someone driving up it. Still, it wasn't long before I joined Dennis at the top of the track and we started on the road that went north on the west side of Alpha peak.
We noticed that our hunter friends had tried to drive up the other road but were backing down as their rig wouldn't handle what the road was throwing their way. When we got to the saddle
we were able to get a good look at the whole route leading up to the summit of Diamond Peak, which we couldn't actually see from there but we knew was close by.
We started up from the saddle and then sidehilled north until we were able to get onto the ridgeline that we would pretty much do our best to follow the rest of the way. Sometimes we were able to walk right on the ridgeline, other times we had to drop down and skirt to the west side or to the east side. Eventually, we got to a point where the full bulk of Diamond Peak was the only thing left between us and the summit so we began working our way up the last thousand feet of elevation necessary to accomplish our goal.
Dennis elected to go right at the ridgeline again and I decided to go around onto the west side and traverse upward toward the summit. Interestingly enough, we met about 300 feet from the summit as both our routes worked fine. Soon we were on the summit but were somewhat disappointed not to find the mailbox and sign that we had seen in one of the pics posted on the Diamond Peak page here at SP. We found the register, in a glass jar tucked inside a red painted can and signed in.
Again, many familiar names jumped out at us including one family that seemed to have either had a wedding up there or a funeral. I called my wife to let her know that I was alive and well and while doing so noticed some snowflakes starting to fall. Dennis indicated that it was time to get off the summit as the weather once again seemed to be changing on us.
The route we took down was the one Dennis had taken and it was the better route. We worked our way back down to the connecting ridge and tried to follow a use trail around on the east side that went well for awhile and then just disappeared so we had to do a little route finding near some cliffy spots.
No matter, we were soon back to the saddle and then back down on the ATV track that we had taken up earlier and as we neared the bottom of the ATV track, it started hailing on us and before long turned to rain. Well, we weren't totally soaked by the time we got back to the vehicle but we were starting to get there. Back to our nights camping spot where I picked up my vehicle and the thunder and lightning started in in full showtime fashion. Once again, we were glad to be off the mountain and thankful for an early start.
Tomorrow: Ruby Dome
of Elko county
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