Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mount Rexford and Nesakwatch Spires

Climbing a perfect splitter, Nivea on the top pitch of the W Ridge of the false summit of Mount Rexford.
Range Hierarchy: Pacific Cordillera / Cascade Range / Canadian Cascades / Skagit Range
Region Hierarchy: Cascades / Washington North Cascades, Canadian Cascades SW / Slesse
August ??, 2003 (5 days)
Calculated Length: 0 km 92 H/04
Participants: Graham Rowbotham, Nivea, and Janez Ales
Equipment: Single and sometimes double rack up to #5 Camalot.
Difficulty: 5.9-5.11
Abstract: Two visits to the area with two partners: Graham Rowbotham, and Nivea resulted in half a dozen new pitches on Nesakwatch Spires and Mount Rexford.

Dru Breyshaw's picture of the West Face of the South Nesakwatch Spire. Route Alpine Gardens is marked with purple and a West Ridge variation on Mount Rexford is marked with yellow.The first trip was blessed with great weather, so a tent was not necessary. We camped just west of the North Spire with great views of the Slesse Mountain.
First day we climbed south-west ridge on North Spire with two new pitches and some run out face climbing...
Second day we were less enthusiastic about difficulties and we went peak bagging. West ridge of the west false summit offered a great crack right up the left (north) side of an arrete. To the right on the west side of it I spotted a really nice off-width, something to come back for.
I was back. After a week of partner searching I found somebody that was "keen" on carying a full size rack up to #5 Camalot up to the spires. That is of course on top of my rack of the same size. Yes, two #5 Camalots :) One could do with one, but I was happy to have two with me on the 10c OW pitch. In any case, Nivea was the "happy" companion.
We planned four days in the mountains. However, on the first one, Friday, it rained all day. So all we did was drive to the gate and slept there. The next morning we slept in due to more rain. By 10 am the rain stopped. Trail through the clear cut was pleasant but for all the wetness around. Packs were heavy too :) On top of two racks we also had a tent this time, for some obvious reasons. On the way up we met a party of three unhappy campers, some with brand new boots, who were "all soaked through the night" and called it quits.
We did manage to get up to the idyllic camp spot on the west side below south spire and Mount Rexford. It rained all Saturday afternoon and through the night. Nivea was a miserable tent companion threatening to go "down" if the rain does not stop. My mind was saying no, we did not bring 4 days of food, two racks, two double ropes, and a tent - to assure us a shot on the off-width, just to go down bcause of some misery imported from the east coast. So I asked her if she knows "why is a Gypsy boy smiling when it is raining?" That didnot get through... Short discussion led to me falling asleep for about 18 hours... and a good sleep it was :)
It only stopped raining by noon on Sunday. We went up to the base of the false summit with the warming afternoon sun on our backs. Climbing was great and routes dried out fast in the plesant wind.
For this short route start climbing on the false summit on the west facing wall on its left side, via some right facing corners and a small roof. Join the belay of the existing arete route that starts on the north side of the false summit, and then thread right out of the belay "cave", through the chimney above it and then step left into an obvious off-width. All this ground is to the right of the old 5.8 route on the arete. On top of the off-width you will find a good rest and then beautiful 15 meters of a splitter crack. Route is marked with a yellow line on the picture above. The following picture tells you how good it really was...

More smiles followed the next day. We climbed a route on the West Face of the South Nesakwatch spire. It starts to the left of the route (B) on Drew Brayshaw's report up a series of right trending ramps and crosing routes (B) and (C).

Climbing gets progressively harder up to 5.11-, which we encountered in the right facing corner filled with a mixture of good finger locks covered by some beautiful alpine flowers. Some gardening had to be done to reveal the holds but flowers were left in place :) Hence the route name. On top of this corner, step left and join the route (C) for its amazing last pitch, another splitter crack that is well visible from the cirque below. Exit through some off-width/chimney where one should try and avoid jamming the helmet :) Walk out was harsh on the knees. I had to resort to coffee on the drive to Vancouver. A good long weekend it was!
"Gipsy boy always smiles when it rains because after rain comes the sun :)"

Routes climbed:
W Ridge, 5.8, AD-, 300m, Mt. Rexford, 2320m, Graham Rowbotham, 2003.
SW Ridge, 5.10, D+, (5.10-, 5.10 R variation, FA), ?p, North Nsakwatch Spire, 2195m, Graham Rowbotham, 2003.
W Ridge, 5.10c OW, D, 2p variation, FA, 300m, Mt. Rexeford, 2320m, Nivea, 2003.
Alpine Gardens, 5.11b, 3p variation, FA, South Nasakwatch Spire, 2256m, Nivea, 2003.


49:02.2-121:31.7=Nesakwatch Spires
49:02.0-121:31.5=Mount Rexford