Babcock Peak P1K
Lone Rock P300
Red Rock P300 PD
Diamond Mountain P1K PD
Peak 5,464ft P900

Sat, Nov 10, 2018
Etymology
Red Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3

On the last of a three-day roadtrip, the day's goals focused on finishing up the last of some prominence summits I had left in the Diamond Mtns, a sub-range of the far Northern Sierra. None of the hikes by themselves was very long, but the combination, along with all the driving in-between, would keep me busy for most of the day.

Babcock Peak

This summit divides the Indian and Last Chance Creek drainages in the middle of the range, roughly between Lake Davis and Antelope Lake. I had camped the night on the forest access road northwest of the summit (signed for "Babcock Xing"), resuming the drive in the morning. The roads I traveled were in excellent condition, suitable for any vehicle. I could not drive all the roads depicted on the topo map, but I got within about a mile of the summit before finding the additional spur roads no longer driveable. The old roads proved quite helpful for navigating an otherwise brushy area for 2/3 of the distance to the top. Fires have burned over most of the hills in the area over the past decade, leaving lots of heavy brush. Where the road was too overgrown, there was a convenient bypass through an adjacent meadow, now dry for the rest of the season. Some care is needed for the final roadless haul to the summit from the north to avoid more brush. With all this in mind, it took me about 45min to cover the mile distance to the summit. A summit register had been left there by Gordon & Barbara, oddly undated. By other means, I was able to ascertain that it was 2009 when they visited, with Gordon then 85yrs old - quite a remarkable achievement at that age, to be sure. The only other visitors since then were John Vitz (& Donna) and John Ide. USFS surveyors had been to the summit in 1946, leaving a benchmark and the remains of a survey tower. Though partially blocked by trees, the views are nonetheless quite nice. With a better knowledge of the route, I managed to shave off some time and get back in 30min.

Lone Rock

Following my success on Babcock, I began a long drive, first back out to the pavement, then north to Antelope Lake, then dirt roads out towards Red Rock & Diamond Mtn. Much of the area here has been logged and replanted, leaving the landscape often looking like a giant christmas tree farm. I was following a route called the Diamond Mtn Motorway on the topo map, but got distracted when I caught sight of an unexpected rock outcrop rising from the gentle slopes and decided it needed investigating. The motorway goes within a quarter mile of Lone Rock on the northeast side, so I simply parked and made my way up the open slope to check it out (my GPSr malfunctioned on the way up, so only the descent route was acurately mapped). I first climbed to the notch on the north side, but the 60 to 80-foot outcrop was too steep on that side for unroped scrambling. Looking over the west side, that seemed impossibly steep as well, so I began circling around to the south on the east side. I noted a possible route up the East Face in the shaded area, possibly class 4 or harder. I continued around to the south side where there are some large trees abutting the feature and more steep faces. But one aspect of the face just west of the trees looked like it might be class 3. Here I found one of the great gems in all of the Northern Sierra, about 40ft of exposed, exhilarating scrambling over solid rock, leading to easier ground higher and the summit. The register had been placed by Suchoski C. in 2016, a rock climber who put up three routes over a period of about a month (there's also a page on Mountain Project he put up). The views look over a logging wonderland with few mature trees in sight. It took but 10min to return to the jeep once I had the route dialed in.

Red Rock/Diamond Mtn

Back at the motorway, I continued north towards Red Rock, suddenly coming to a halt when I found the road blocked by landslides. The landslides are somewhat old, judging by the tracks that have sprung up to circumvent the blockages. I drove around the first but balked at the second. I got out and walked the bypass section, thinking I might be able to negotiate it, but it was hardly what I would consider safe. After consulting the maps, I decided on a detour route - 15mi of driving where the original route would have been only 2mi. At least the roads were in good condition on the detour. When I arrived at the base of Red Rock, I found the road gated. Evidently the lookout was closed for the season and one could no longer drive to the top of this one. No matter - I had planned to hike between Red Rock and Diamond Mtn, so I simply found a road getting me somewhere between the two and set off on foot.

I paid a visit to Red Rock first, up steep forested slopes until I intersected the road for the last bit to the top. The lookout is in decent shape, but was boarded up for the season. I walked around the observation deck to get photos of the surrounding landscape, with good visibility - I could see Shasta more than 100mi to the northwest. The lookout isn't actually on the highpoint, that honor goes to a small nubbin just north of the peak, beyond the open-air outhouse. A geocache was placed here in 2010, the third I'd found in the area in two days. Ron Moe had left a more normal notepad in 2014.

I next turned my attention to the higher Diamond Mtn, a mile and a quarter to the northeast along a connecting ridgeline. The ridgeline is somewhat loose and steep in places, but all class 2 with modest brush in a few places. I found the remains of a snowcat that had burned here sometime in the past, the engine making up most of what remained. Why anyone would have a snowcat up here is a bit of a mystery. Continuing along the ridge, I found there are two places vying for the highpoint. I first bypassed the more interesting volcanic rock outcrop to the southwest to reach the easy point marked on the GPSr. It did indeed appear to be the higher of the two, but there was no register that I could find and the benchmark was buried under a cairn. I left a new register here before turning back to visit the other point. Though it looks imposing from three sides, there is an easy class 3 route up the north side. I found a reference mark there, pointing to the higher point I had earlier visited. I spent the next half hour partially retracing my steps along the ridgeline before dropping down and wandering through forest and meadow to find the car buried deep in the trees. The whole outing took less than 2hrs.

Peak 5,464ft

This last summit was a bit of a leftover from an earlier trip with my daughter when we stayed in the town of Greenville in Indian Valley, southeast of Lake Almanor. Somehow I had left this P900 just south of town untrodden. I spent well over an hour driving southwest to reach Greenville and then up the paved road to Round Valley Reservoir on the west side of Peak 5,464ft. The mountain is a patchwork of USFS and private lands (you can see the No Trespassing signs on the drive up to the reservoir) but the route I traveled was all public lands - not a fence or sign to dissuade you. Just past the picnic sites on the east side of the lake there is an unsigned dirt road forking sharply off the pavement, going up to an old water tank. The road was clear but not advisable for low-clearance. There's just enough room to turn around at the end of the road by the water tank. Old logging roads continue up from there, but these are no longer driveable. Starting less than a mile from the summit, I climbed up through the forest understory, sometimes on old roads, mostly just directly upslope until I encountered a decent use trail above 5,200ft where the slope lessens. This trail joins others, with one branch leading to the summit. I'm not sure if the trails are from local residences or perhaps an extension of the USFS trail that is shown on the topo map where the paved road first meets the shore of the reservoir. The summit features an old fire ring, a small cairn with a glass bottle wind chime (of sorts) and a log view bench overlooking Greenville to the north. It appears to be used periodically as a party location, but seems to be kept reasonably clean. I went back via the same route, finishing the day around 2:30p. I paused to take a picture of the leaf-strewn Round Valley Reservoir before starting my long drive back out of the hills towards home.

Continued...


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