The Big Five: Dimond
FIRST DESCENT: Doug Coombs
VERTICAL: 4,000 feet, 55 degrees
ACCESS: Less than a 10-minute flight to the top from Tsaina Lodge, Valdez Heli Ski Guides Base or Alaska Rendezvous Lodge
AS SEEN IN THE JANUARY 2012 ISSUE OF FREESKIER MAGAZINE. WORDS BY CHRISTOPHER JERARD.
ITS PROXIMITY TO THE RICHARDSON HIGHWAY MAKES DIMOND A POPULAR LINE AND IT IS ACCESSED BY SEVERAL OPERATORS. IT’S A FORMIDABLE PEAK WITH NUMEROUS OPTIONS TO GET YOUR BLOOD PUMPING.
“Dimond was named for the first federal magistrate in Alaska, which is why it is spelled Dimond not Diamond. Dimond was Coombs’ patron mountain, and he skied it like no other.” –Theo Meiners, president and owner, Alaska Rendezvous Lodge and Heli-Guides
“For all intents and purposes, this is the all-time sickest backyard run in the Chugach. It is big, it is gnarly and it is scary in so many ways. At the same time, it’s a 6,000-foot road run that ends at the Tsaina Lodge—pretty ridiculous. Most, if not all, of the AK legends cut their teeth on this hill. It was a rite of passage in the early days of Valdez. As for the average Joe, be careful. This is a big peak with huge cornices and no easy way down. Just because it is close to the road, does not mean it should be taken lightly.” —Dirk Collins, Pioneering Alaska skier and filmmaker
PHOTO: TREVOR PETERSEN SHOT BY MARK GALLUP
“The Gun Barrel Couloirs are on the southwest face and are serious pursuits. The start is a solid 50 degrees and usually involves tiptoeing around school bus-sized cornices to get in. Massive sloughs are the norm. Getting sloughed out really isn’t optimal because the crux of the run is the exit, which involves airing over a gaping bergschrund. The north face of Dimond stares down at mile-marker 40 of the highway and was truly one of the first steep, exposed, scary descents that Coombs and the original crew got out on. Accessing the north face involves a sphincter- puckering traverse across the east-facing, extremely exposed summit ridge. Once you’re on the north face, you traverse again above a massive blue ice-bulge before reaching the skier’s left of the face. Falling on either of these two crux traverses would be really bad.” —Daniel Caruso, guide, Alaska Backcountry Adventures
“Dimond’s east, west and north faces are three of the best runs you could ever do. There is also Pillow, a ramp off the northwest ridge. You can ski off either side of that ridge. There are seven classic AK ski runs off the Dimond.” —Scott Raynor, owner and operator, Valdez Heli-Ski Guides