With a free day this weekend and itching to do something bold, I sent out various emails/text messages to find anyone willing for adventure. The forecast was casting some doubt. Not really too sure what would happen, Don M, Jack, and I boldly set off out to Chilliwack for some fun alpine rambling.
We set out from Burnaby in the dark at 4am with light rain. We stopped for a quick Timmy's visit in Chilliwack, and then continued up towards Chilliwack Lake. The clouds were thick, and a bit off-putting. We boldly continued driving up the Nesakwatch Creek FSR to the Mt Rexford trailhead, arriving at 6.30. I was a bit reluctant to commit to the hike, as it was socked in, and I felt it was threatening rain. Boldy, we headed up the trail.
Classic view of Slesse
We reached the alpine basin in just over two and a half hours, where we scrambled to the base of the N ridge of the N Nesakwatch Spire. The morning was a bit chilly but the clouds we starting to lift. It was a nice change from the heat as of late, and at this point, we donned our layers. At this point, I could see the Nesakwatch Crack (???) with the massive chockstone. It was pretty cool to see it coming through the fog.
We boldy set off up the ridge without being roped up. Within minutes, I was boldly looking for a rope. Don quickly threw one up to me, I tied in, then continued up the ridge. Jack was off in the distance, pulling through 5.2 moves.
Within a short time, we found ourselves on the warm sunny summit of the North Nesakwatch Spire. 1 down, 2 to go. The climbing was easy (max low 5th, mostly 3rd and 4th) with some exposure thrown in for measure. We chilled for a bit, then boldly continued down the S Ridge towards the South Nesakwatch Spire. We continued up and began traversing the along climber's left, staying well left of the ridge, venturing onto the face. The exposure increased until we found a good bench, looking up at a 20m pitch of what looked like fun climbing. Jack had boldly ventured off on easier ground, but this pitch looked too fun to pass up. It was very similar to Diedre or the 2nd pitch of skywalker if you've climbed that, not too hard, but a lot of the same moves over and over. In approach shoes it felt like 5.8.
Don boldly met up with me up top, where I was sure we were off route. I could see Jack on the summit above, having soloed the offwidth.
A short wandering pitch found us on easy, but very exposed terrain. One more bold pitch and we were at the base of the summit block, staring at the 5.7 offwidth. Jack had soloed his way up there, but wasn't in the mood for bold downclimbing. I thought, 5.7 offwidth, no big deal. I'd even brought my largest piece of protection along. Sadly, I found midpitch it did not fit. In fact, I only had a slung chockstone for protection. While the pitch was short (5-7m), I'm no offwidth climber. Burling my way up, I managed a few offwidth moves. With a final grunt and holding on for dear life, I managed to reach to top. In the process I had stupidly dropped a cam (didn't take the climbing gear off), tore holes in my shirt, and donated some skin to the route. Don wisely declined the top rope.
2 down, 1 to go.
Jack and I quickly rappelled down. A few minutes later, and we had rehydrated, eaten, and were off down the south ridge of the south spire. We found the rappel station, and made a 15 or so meter rappel into the notch below, between the S Nesakwatch Spire and Mt Rexford. We were all starting to feel a bit tired, the afternoon was wearing on, and hoping to avoid a late night, we boldly opted to descend a loose gully and head back to the truck. We were back at the truck at 6pm, where Don surpised us with some stashed Red Racer IPA. A scholar and gentleman. Not to mention organized.
False summit of Rexford
To summarize - despite everything working against us, we boldly ventured into the alpine, and boldly traversed the Nesakwatch Spires, where we boldly decided to retreat to the vehicle as we were starting to tire.
I'd highly recommend this trip, even though we didn't do the full traverse. We made it car to car in just under 12 hours, and Rexford would likely have made it 14-15 hours. It's a fun outing, not too technically hard, and covers a lot of moderate alpine terrain. It also has options to bail after each spire. With good route finding, you can keep the grades to mid 5th I think (offwidth excepted). We didn't get up Rexford due to our concerns of a late night, but traffic on the way home had us second guessing ourselves. The only thing I would change is a bivy at the trailhead either prior to or just after this traverse to make it a bit easier on yourself. The only other note would be to watch for loose blocks on the descent of the south ridges on the spires.
Credit to Jack for all the photos, he had my camera for the day.