This is a beautiful and scenic route, and possibly the most direct route to the summit of Lemah Mountain. About 20 miles round trip, and 5000 feet of elevation gain. Can be done in a very long day, but you can camp somewhere and split it up. It's popular backpacking country though, so you may have to consider a camp high on the mountain.
Access in early season seems WAY possible. The chimney section mentioned below is a moderately steep snow climb before it melts out. But you may encounter other early season or winter issues, such as avy danger.
See Main Page.
Start at the Pete Lake Trailhead, elevation 2800. Continue 4.4 miles (not exciting) to Pete Lake, elevation 2979. Good camping exists at Pete Lake, but it's a popular place. Continue another 1.3 miles until you reach a junction. Go right at this junction (do not cross creek), and hike 0.8 miles to junction with the PCT. Go left here, and head South on the PCT for about another 0.8 miles until you reach Lemah Creek (approx. elev. 3200). The bridge over Lemah Creek is destroyed, but you won't need to cross. A good campsite with a fire ring exists within view of the creek. Leave the PCT at this campsite, and travel along the North side of the creek. You'll pick up an old trail near the camp, or what remains of what was once a trail. Occasional flagging helps. Bushwhacking is moderate in this next section as you gain about 400 feet in about 1/2 mile until you reach the lower part of the grassy (and soggy) meadow. Head Northwesterly across the meadow, keep the creek to your left. Pass the small lake, then attempt to pick up a "trail" through thickets of slide alder (easier to see and pick up this route on the way down). Alternatively, take your boots off and walk in the gently flowing creek for a 100 feet or so, until you can bypass the thickets. Your feet may go numb, but it might be worth it.
Beyond this last organic obstacle, the route continues up dry stream beds as you head toward the extensive snow finger. Soon enough, you'll find yourself on snow. The snow finger is firm neve, and though you'll leave it before it gets very steep, crampons may be a good idea. This section is interesting with great views of many cascading waterfalls. Head up the snow finger. As you approach elevation 4800, start looking for a break in the cliffs on your left. Exit snow finger between 4800-5000, and head South on talus, snow, & heather, aiming for a small waterfall at about elevation 5100. To the right of the waterfall, work your way up a short section of damp Class 2-3. Above the waterfall, continue South across a broad bench, with cliffs on your right. At the end of the bench, ascend to the ridge, and head up the ridge in a NW direction over mixed snow/rock. Eventually, you'll reach the Lemah Glacier in the area beneath Lemah 2 and Lemah 3 (Main Summit). Rope up if you have one, as the upper section of the glacier route does show some breaks, especially in the later season. In general, the breaks are easy to avoid as you work your way up to the highest point in the snow between Lemah 2 and Lemah 3. In late season, the moats can be intimidating. Aim for the apparent rock chimney and exit the snow immediately beneath. The chimney will likely have water running down it, so prepare for some wet. Carefully work your way into the chimney, and when it seems it's about to get too wet and slimy, exit on good holds and ledges to your right (a couple moves of Class 4, careful on descent). Above this, pick your way up Class 2-3 ledges (some exposure) for a couple hundred feet. Get back on snow and continue toward a slight notch in the summit ridge. Move onto broken talus where appropriate, gain the ridge, follow ridge to the North and curl around the Western part of the summit block until you find yourself a short and easy Class 3 scramble to the top.
Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons. A rope if you have one. A partner if you have one. Reportedly, rappels can be made from the top of the chimney, but I didn't see any evidence of recent rappels.