The Diller climb had been aborted because of bad weather in 2004, so we had to go back. After rescheduling again due tobad weather, we met on Saturday February 26 at the Lassen Chalet: Andy Hudson (co-leader), Kirsten Mouradian, Kelly Maas, William Humnicky, Sonia Diermayer, Bill Peters and leader and scribe Stephane Mouradian. Bill and William were on snowshoes while the rest of the group was on skis + skins
We left the Chalet at 9am. Diller was in and out of the clouds and the weather forecast predicted a moderate storm hitting later in the day. At Sulphur Springs, we headed NW along West Sulphur Creek, then straight N toward the saddle between Diller and Pilot Pinnacle. We dropped our packs at the saddle and headed toward Diller. We had to kick steps to cover the last steep 100 feet of Diller. We reached the summit at 12 noon, a 3 hour climb from the chalet. It turns out the real summit is a 30 foot rock pinnacle accessed via a catwalk. The pinnacle was covered with mixed ice and snow and there was no easy access to it other than exposed class 4/5 routes. This was not that kind of trip. We benefited from a lucky break in the clouds and spent nearly 45 minutes enjoying sunshine on the summit.
Andy checked the N facing bowl which looked full of good powder. He dug a Rutschblock to test the snow stability. As everyone was watching, the top layer readily slid away as Andy was barely flexing his feet above the skis. That unstable layer was about 6-8 inches. The rest of the layers appeared stable. We could also clearly see traces of slides down in the bowl. We decided to be safe and save the bowl for some future trip with more stable conditions. Back down to the saddle, we had a quick lunch and headed east along the ridge for the traverse. The wind was strong and the clouds started catching up with us although the temperature remained comfortable. From the traverse, we had nice views over the entire park but we could not see Shasta as I was hoping due to the cloud cover. Pilot Pinnacle looked steep and rocky, so we decided to bypass it on the South side. We caught back with the ridge at the saddle West of Ski Heil. As we sumitted Ski Heil, white out conditions started developing. We skied down from Ski Heil to seek a camping spot at the saddle between Eagle and Ski Heil. Those of us who decided to ski the steeper slope regretted it somewhat as it was impossible to judge the terrain in advance, making carving turns a challenging guessing game at best.
We selected a semi protected spot slightly N of the saddle and anchored our tents around 3:30pm. Andy built a nice snow wall around the kitchen which made it homey and much less windy. Sonia pulled out a bottle of Red from her pack and I seem to remember everything was fine after that :)
The weather was blustery all night although we did not get any significant snowfall. As conditions were similar in the morning, we skipped the climb over Eagle and headed straight down from the saddle toward the road. After a quick return via the Diamond peak cutoff, we were back at the cars early afternoon.
I am glad we finally made it. This trip deserves better weather conditions though. Stay tuned for the March 2006 edition in perfect clear weather with Shasta view etc... If not, make sure you at least bring wine.