Posted by Chris Erikson on Jul 16, 2006, 22:40
Diamond Ridge is a satisfying, easy to access slope 40 minutes north of the Hood River area of the Columbia Gorge. The moderately open face of the slope and sub-alpine character of the trees and meadow can be rewarding to fly, and when the wind is working, the smooth, powerful, enormous air characteristic of Gorge area slopes emerges.
Diamond Ridge, WA
Copyright Chris Erikson 2006
Location: 16 Miles NE of White Salmon, WA
Vertical Relief: 1200′
Coordinates: (NAD83 / WGS84 datum)
Wind: W – NNW
Access: Dirt Road, suitable for any passenger car
Season: April to October
Skill level: Intermediate
Diamond Ridge is a satisfying, easy to access slope 40 minutes north of the Hood River area of the Columbia Gorge. The moderately open face of the slope and sub-alpine character of the trees and meadow can be rewarding to fly, and when the wind is working, the smooth, powerful, enormous air characteristic of Gorge area slopes emerges. Located a mere 20 miles away, Mt Adam’s broad shouldered, 12,276′ bulk entirely owns the northern horizon, clad in some of the largest glaciers in the continental US.
The photo ops here on a clear day approach the ludicrous for sheer beauty rivaling Oregon’s Bald Butte view of Mt Hood, especially April to May when the meadow bloom is in progress. However, unlike Bald, the road access to Diamond is suitable for a passenger car. It impossible to go wrong for views in the Columbia Gorge region slopes, and this one is no exception due to the view of Adams to the north and the sweeping vista of the crest of the Cascade Range to the west. On a clear day, Mt St Helens is also visible low on the western horizon.
The slope and airspace is open enough for big air flying, but the medium height (30-50′?) trees are generally at your back or at best a hundred feet behind the slope. If not flying the obvious meadowed, open knoll 200′ due N of the parking area where there is some room behind you, there is always one or two to watch out for, but once out from the hill a bit there is plenty of air. In fact, on big air days the random distribution of not too tall trees provides extremely entertaining opportunities for repeated between the tree runs and slaloms.
This slope is within the rain shadow caused by the Cascade Crest, while not as nearly as dry as Greyback’s canyon rim flying sites 13 miles to the East, it still receives less rain than Bald Butte or Lumber near Hood River. The snowpack is generally gone by mid March or April, and once summer weather patterns set in tends to be far drier than the west slope of the Cascades.
Lightly wooded with pines, firs, and oak trees present farther down the slope depending on where you are flying, trees are at your back in most places. There are few rocks but the occasional dead snag or downed tree, and an extensive growth of Balsamroot Arrow leaf is present in spring, these are the yellow sunflower like plants visible in several pictures in this report.
The flying at Diamond is dependent upon a fairly narrow range of winds, W to NNW works, but NW or NNW are preferred. For W winds the slightly NW facing hillside tends towards shear conditions, this can be alleviated by flying the northern site along the road at the head of the valley (N45.91522, W121.34508), as well as by walking S a bit from the main parking turnaround on the spur road to the main slope.
NW and NNW winds provide solid and reliable lift, when combined with a hot day the resultant thermal activity from the forested slopes below result in steady, very large air providing excellent flying. Since NW winds result in choppy, turbulent conditions at Bald Butte and Lumber due to obstructions upwind for this heading, if the forecast is for NW winds, consider giving Diamond a try.
As previously mentioned, when the winds are from the proper direction for this slope, a great deal of amusement can be derived playing tree slalom with the medium sized firs dotting the hillside along much of the slope.
Short shrubs and alpine flowers, some small to medium height firs and pines. Few rocks, some stumps and downed logs. Flying a crunchy here is possible if you are good at spot landings, otherwise it’s pretty much a foamy show. As detailed, trees are very close behind you in most places except the meadowed area a few yards N of the main parking turnaround.
Walk of Shame:
Easy. There are no cliffs and the hill is steep but solid with few if any loose rocks. It consists mostly of well consolidated dirt and shrubs, with a tree line down slope varying from a hundred feet or so to several hundred feet down depending on where you choose to fly from.
Great sites all the way up and at the parking spot, no fires, leave it cleaner than you find it please.
1) From the junction of Hood River toll bridge and Washington state route 14, proceed W 1.5 miles to Hwy 141
2) Turn R (North) on Hwy 141A (towards Trout Lake)
3) Proceed N on 141A, then turn left on Hwy 141 for approx 12 miles to the extremely small town of BZ Corners (after passing through Husum at 8 miles)
4) Turn R (NE) on BZ-Glenwood Hwy
5) Proceed NE on BZ-Glenwood Hwy for 8 miles
6) Turn R (E) on Road 5000 (Watch for Laurel Road on the left, Rd 5000 is directly across from it) (N45.91569, W121.37374)
7) Stay on obvious main road all the way to the top in 2+ miles
8) Stay right at fork at summit (N45.91461, W121.34345)
9) Proceed for ½ mile S as road goes behind ridge and meets ridgeline again
10) Turn right (N) on obvious old road, gets bumpy has a couple fir boughs (N45.90973, W121.34813 at spur junction)
11) Proceed ¼ mile to dead end and parking (N45.91065, W121.347010)