After a short break at the campsite, I continued up towards the bowl between Black Mtn and Diamond peak, with the intention of climbing Black Mtn first. Snow coverage of the Summit Meadow area was still greater than 50%. Here in the bowl, snow coverage was about 99%. I put on crampons and hiked up the east edge of a high cliff band just north of Black Mtn. The greatest angle I reached appeared to be 40-45 degrees. After that, I walked up a broad gully right to the summit of Black Mtn., reaching it at 1 pm. The snow-covered Sierras was wonderful to see from up high. What was not wonderful to see was an empty ammo box that once held the register book. It used to be that nearly every Sierra peak I climbed had a register. However, in the last 2 years, half the Sierra peaks I have climbed have missing register books, or the register can and book are missing entirely. Many other climbers have noticed this phenomenon. There was a recent Sacramento Bee article about it too! Apparently, the register thief(s) had been here in the last year because a trip report on the Summitpost website indicated the register, dating back to 1958, was still there.
I began my descent from Black a little north of the summit along the ridge. The steepness of the snow was not quite as great here as a direct decent down the gully from the summit. Back at the cliff band, I took the largest snow chute that was on the west side of the cliff band. I was a tad nervous on the steep, softening snow, but I made it down without incident, spending part of the descent in the moot of the chute.
I headed up the largest south-facing chute on Diamond Pk, which was still mostly snow-covered. The snow was a definite plus because the short section of scree I had to contend with was incredibly loose. I reached the summit at 4 pm and found the SPS register cylinder...empty. Well not completely empty, there was a stubby pencil left inside. A trip report from last May or June said the register book was here.
With so few people filling out wilderness permits for the Baxter Pass trailhead during the time Black and Diamond are open for climbing, it seems easy to make a short list of possible suspects stealing the registers. But this would mean the Forest Service would share their permit information, if they even keep it. And it assumes the register thief even fills out a permit. Oh well!
I went back down the Diamond snow chute doing a sitting glassade. Heading back to camp, the snow was quite soft and there was a myriad of sun cups to deal with. Reaching camp at 6:30, I almost had time to hike out in daylight, but I was just too tired to attempt those last 5 miles back to the trailhead.
The next day, it took me about 2.5 hours to reach the trailhead. Along the way, the Lupins and Indian Paint brush were in full bloom on the hillsides. Absolutely gorgeous!