This is the forgotten route from the north from Hozomeen Campground using the Hozomeen Lake Trail. It avoids the long trek on the East Bank Trail from the south to reach the summit trail and also avoids the cost of the expensive boat ride to the same location. However, you might wind up spending just as much money on gas getting to the Hozomeen area at the north end of the lake.
As a climb from this side it is largely non-technical but the final scramble on a rudimentary bootpath on the north side of the summit block is steep enough in spots to warrant care.
This route will also take you over Pt. 5967 a mile-and-a-half north of Desolation. This point provides the quintessential view of the south butt of mighty Hozomeen Mountain (specifically the south faces of the Southwest and South peaks). The point could be called "Darvill Point" after the first guy to leave a register there in 1967. Dr. Fred Darvill was a medical practitioner from Mt. Vernon Washington. He spoke fondly of Jack Kerouac not 10 years after Jack inhabited the lookout on Desolation for a summer. Darvill Point is a short 30 or 45-minute stroll from Desolation. I was the seventh to sign the register and my friend Mike Collins and his buddy John Meyer were the sixth. Here is Mike's report
From Hope, B.C. drive the Silver Creek road south for 55km to the International Border. A short distance south of the border is the Hozomeen Lake Trailhead (c. 1,760 ft).
There is a ranger station at the border and ample camping. The campgrounds have running water and are free use. There is also a nearby creek (Hozomeen Creek) that one can stash refreshing beverages in (read: beer) at the trailhead.
Hike the Hozomeen Lake Trailhead for about 3 miles to where there is a fork at c. 2,680 ft. The left fork goes to the lake. Stay right on the main trail for several hundred more yards. The map shows the trail on the north side of the creek but it's really on the south side.
Leave the trail when convenient but hopefully not too early to avoid steep forest and head south to the long ridge extending between Little Jackass Mountain and Desolation (or, more closely, Pt. 5967). Mount the ridge in the vicinity of Pt. 3700 and take it southeastward over the top of Pt. 5967, signing the register on your way by.
Continue over lesser Pt. 5925. There is a rough path on most of the ridge. Drop to the final saddle before the north side headwall of Desolation's summit. Look for a path leading up and then right through the more or less obvious break in the wall above the basin below (which may have snow in it). The final bit of trail goes back left and tops out just northeast of the lookout.
9-11 hours round trip depending on conditions and fitness and whether the weather is stifling.
around 5,200 vertical feet
approximately 14 miles round trip.
Hot weather gear in summer.
Cold weather gear otherwise.
Ice axe probably not needed.
Plenty of extra water in summer. It might be advisable to bring the lookout a beer to trade for water out of the cistern. And if a lookout should not be there (there wasn't one for me and the lookout was all locked up), then that's a free beer for you and free water too. Walk around the summit plateau a bit and you'll locate the cistern soon enough. The water in it is potable and pleasant.