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The Climbing Club • View topic - Mount Rexford - 10/7/12

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 Post subject: Mount Rexford - 10/7/12
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:35 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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While Mount Rexford is in Red Beckey, a trip report from this fine peak strictly belongs a few forums up. However, since the Canadian forum sees little love and the climb is in Canada (barely), the post gets to live here.

Short Version: Craig, Rodrigo, and I entered Canada, climbed Mount Rexford, and returned largely unscathed. Good times, eh?

Long Version: Craig has had his eye on Mount Rexford for some time and, rather than climb next to smoldering fires in the Enchantments, convinced Rodrigo and I that we should head north of the border and have a go at it. Initially, we considered the east ridge (5.7), but, given reports of brush and largely unknown road conditions, I convinced Craig that this was a recipe for an epic and talked him down to the west ridge (5.5). The online beta for the route, particularly, the approach isn't great, largely consisting of: drive until you can't, then hike up until you can't, then scramble until you can't, then climb a few pitches of low to mid 5th. This is surprisingly accurate.

We rolled out of Seattle around 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, crossed the border at Sumas and had a rather *meh* dinner at Mission Springs Brewing in Mission. In addition to being out of the way, the food was mediocre, and beer underwhelming. Under fading light we headed for Chilliwack Lake Road, taking a right just after the Riverside Campground. We were hoping to drive the road for a few miles (a 2006 map by Steph Abegg indicated that the road would be 2WD accessible to within spitting distance of the Slesse Memorial trail), but we quickly encountered water bars that were the perfect height for my Subaru to high center on. Some trick driving got us over three, but the fourth included a number of angry, exposed rocks and we backed off, executing a 10 point turn and parking in a pull out before the first water bar. These water bars are the Canadian forest service's alternative to culverts and, while better for the environment, require substantially more clearance to get over. Weighing our options (walk 4ish miles of road to the trailhead in the morning, head back to Seattle that night), we opted to have a beer and go for the good morning hike option.

Awake a bit before 5 and moving a bit after 5, we covered ground quickly. With the clear skies and nearly full moon headlamps were largely superfluous. We reached the trailhead around 6:30, switched to boots and headed up the old road bed into a clearcut. The first 1000' of elevation is gained on a steep tread through clear cut. This gave us some awesome views of the first light of the day on Sleese across the valley.

First morning light on Slesse
Image

The second 1000' of elevation is gained on a steep tread through open forest. This deposits you at the base of an awesome wall that you then parallel for the next 1000' of gain (now rock and sandy rock) to a talus field below South Nesakwatch Spire.

Slab and headwall above the approach tread
Image

We crossed this and gained the final few hundred feet to the 6500' basin between the Nesakwatch Spires and Mount Rexford. Scrambling through the massive talus in this basin, created by the exfoliation of giant slabs from the surrounding peaks, is worth the price of admission on its own.

We took the late season starting option from the toe of the west ridge, scrambling up through progressively exposed terrain. The moves are never worse than 4th class and the rock is superb (mostly), but the exposure on both sides of the ridge is attention getting. After a few hundred feet, the route intersects the gully route and easier climbing leads to the broad slopes below the imposing false summit. We ascended through more large talus, then hooked to climber's left around the north side of the false summit. Eventually, the climbing steepened beyond 3rd class and we broke out the rope. Two pitches of easy climbing with moves to low 5th and good protection brought us back into the sun on the ridge connecting to the true summit. We scrambled around the corner, then roped back up for the final 5th class pitch to the summit, which Craig led in style. Amazing views from the top of Canadian and American Peaks, including a party of two climbers on North Nesakwatch Spire.

"On belay!"
Image

After a bite to eat, we began the rappels, reaching the basin below Rexford a bit after 3 pm. The Canadian party on Nesakwatch offered us ride back in their rig (thanks, guys!) and we hoofed it down, reaching the trailhead around 4:45. Back to our car by 5:15, underway by 5:45 and in the door in Seattle by 8:30. We were somewhat shocked at how fast the drive back went, having convinced ourselves (courtesy of Google Maps) that it would take at least 3.5 hours. To be fair, we did cruise through the border crossing in about five minutes.

Awesome climb and a great way (for me, at least) to round out the climbing season.

Additional pictures .

Further Detailed Beta (since little was found in our searches)

Driving/Approach Road

After the right turn off Chilliwack Lake Road just past Riverside Campground, the road will rapidly cross 3-4 bridges before reaching a large T-intersection. Take a right and in less than a mile, encounter your first water bar. If you have a Subaru Legacy (or equivalent), can probably drive another mile. Further progress requires a rig with substantial clearance and 4WD.

The road is currently in good condition (for walking or high-clearance 4WD) due to active logging operations. To reach the Rexford trailhead, follow the main road along Nesakwatch Creek and then uphill at a point where an overgrown spur continues straight. Past the Slesse Memorial trail, the road forks. Take the right fork (left fork curves uphill), reaching the trailhead in less than a mile beyond this point. The trailhead consists of a pull out, fire pit (right side), burned pallet (right side), and moderately overgrown road spur (left side). The road continues past this point, so don't expect to just reach an impasse.

Approach

The trail heads up an old logging spur, then breaks off in a relatively inobvious way onto tread through the clearcut. If you're alert, you'll see the flagging uphill on your right side and get yourself on route. If not, you'll wonder why the logging spur has suddenly become so choked by slight alder at this point.

No significant difficulties following the tread beyond this point, but it is steep in a way that makes the Snowking approach from the Kindy Creek side seem pretty weak sauce.

The trail/tread will eventually intersect the large talus field below South Nesakwatch Spire. There are a few cairns suggesting a route, but, really, anything will do. You're shooting for the saddle to climber's right (west) of the spire's flank. From the saddle, which sits on the rim of the Rexford-Nesakwatch basin, proceed through the talus to climber's right to reach the base of the west ridge. We were concerned that this was just a ridgelet, but it feeds in to the much larger west ridge at a connecting saddle. Take all your gear with you - if you climb this way and rappel, you won't come back to the same place.

Climb

From the last cairn in class 3 terrain on the north side of the false summit, climb a 20 m pitch of 5ish rock to a rappel station on a sandy ledge. Multiple variations possible. Then climb up the path of least resistance (recommend trending to the left of a V-groove chimney - pro isn't great on the easy terrain, but is all there once the real climbing starts) to reach the ridge crest. A nearly full rope length will bring you to a good belay alcove on a gendarme on the ridge to the true summit. From here, walk around on the right side to reach the final pitch to the true summit. The chimney on the final pitch is pretty easy (mid 5th) and protects as well as it climbs (which is to say, quite well).

Descent

Make a single rope rappel back to the notch below the true summit from the rap station on the summit block. Kind of a funky rappel to get into, since you need to back up and over a block to start your rap.

At the false summit (west peak, to climber's right when you top out on the ridge), there is an enormous block with a rap station at the base. This had been a set of slings around the top of the block, but was seriously sketchy since nothing but friction was keeping the slings in place on rappel. A single rope rap from here will take you to the rappel station/belay station on the climb to the false summit. Another single rope rap gets you back on scramble terrain.

Where the downclimbing steepens, there are slings around some blocks (but not any rap rings, so suspect from the pulling of ropes), but one can downclimb without too much difficulty to where the saddle joins the ridgelet to the west ridge (and a gully comes up from the Rexford Basin). Here, a single rope rappel will get you down into the gully and to another rap station. This was a seriously awkward rappel since it goes free hanging from a low angle block. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

From the last rap station, we made a double rope rap to get onto a rocky island on low angle snow. A single rope rap would get you on loose, sandy terrain and leave you with a bit of moderate snow to contend with.

Gear

60 m rope (half ropes nice for last rappel or climbing as a party of three)

6-8 alpine draws and 4 double length runners

Set of cams from 0.4 - 3, red and green C3, and a set of nuts. (could get by with less, but we made good use of these)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:14 am 
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Mountain Rhombus
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Great description Brian...that is much more useful info than I found before the trip.

Slesse
Image

Scrambling up the West Ridge to Mt. Rexford
Image

Canadians climbing South Nesakwatch Spire
Image

Looking up at South Nesakwatch Spire and Mt. Rexford
Image

Mt. Rexford from Tomyhoi Peak in 2010. The west ridge is right in the middle of the picture.
Image




~9.1 miles (only 5.3 without the road walk)
~6,100' (5,000' from the trailhead)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:10 am 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Mmmm Sleese.

Looks like a pretty sweet day out. I was surprised when Dan told me you were back so early. Nicely done. Did you basically rap the route and then downclimb the 3rd class?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:43 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:47 am 
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Nice! Looks like good times! Thanks for all the beta to help beat in the track :)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:01 pm 
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Rodrigo
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As always, thanks for the good trip report. A few additional notes. Brian mentioned that this route had a lot of exposure. I would take that one step further. Although all of the climbing/scrambling is easy, it's quite exposed. Some of the first scrambling moves are 4th class but are extremely exposed on all sides. With the exception of the really easy climbing/walking, all of the climbing is this way. At times the climbing was easy but the exposure made me think about roping up anyway.

Also, there appears to be an exception amount of great rock and climbing potential in the area. Of course, the entrance fee is a brutal approach and descent. While worth climbing, if you wish to head to this area I would suggest taking another day (or two) to climb other routes in the area. There's plenty up there and it was a shame to waste all of that energy and time looking at many other good looking routes without being able to climb them.

Thanks for the good times folks. It was a great end to a summer that involved lots of climbing with you guys.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:07 pm 
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Rodrigo
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One more comment. The sample size may be small (6), but if you plan to climb more routes in the area you may want to bring gear to work on the rap stations. With the exception one the one rap station we skipped to downclimb, all of the rap stations were in questionable condition. We had read this and arrived prepared. Make sure to do the same.


Last edited by Chris Bassett on Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:08 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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To echos Chris' comments above - the rap stations were in so-so shape and we replaced a few outright. We brought plenty of tat (well, actually, exactly enough tat), but a number of the stations had older/semi-rusty quick links rather than rap rings. Unfortunately, none of the stations had 4+ rings (like a WA Pass route), so we couldn't redistribute the wealth.

The exposure is considerable on the lower west ridge, but you get a nice chance to refill the exposure tank mid-way through the route on a broad, west-facing plateau. I also enjoyed the walk up in its own right, but am well known to be broken. :twisted:


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:06 am 
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That's an attractive pile of rocks there, eh. I really like the shot of the guys on South Nesakwatch Spire too. And I'm keeping in mind the suggestion to get up and spend some time climbing other routes in the area after paying the aerobic entrance fee. ^5s


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:42 pm 
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Last edited by Kevin Andrews on Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:03 pm 
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Well, that's a hard question. I'd suggest climbing/mountaineering if you like the outdoors, exploration, a good challenge, awesome experiences, comradery, and great views. Seems like reason enough to me. I do believe the mastery of a difficult, complex, and sometimes dangerous sport gives you more self confidence day-to-day and is good for the soul, but I think of that more as a byproduct, rather than a direct goal.


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