Mount MacFarlane

September 23, 2015

2055m

Chilliwack / Chilliwack Lake Road, BC

After a few trips along the Sea-to-Sky corridor I figured it’s the time to head east and explore the BC Cascades. Weather was in my favour on Wednesday showing rain anywhere north of Squamish but “a mix of sun and clouds” by Chilliwack and Hope. Having just done the long grind up Mt. Currie two days ago I wasn’t quite sure about my motivation but after talking to Alan Blair (Spectrum) from ClubTread I made a very last minute decision to join his trip. Mt. MacFarlane is one of the more popular objectives by Chilliwack Valley and also one of the only few in this region that don’t require driving on logging roads. It’s a good thing that we didn’t need 4×4 but on the other hand, it meant I had to once again grind all the way up from valley floor through the steep Coastal rainforest… Adding the nearby Mt. Pierce in the bag that’s another day with near 2000 vertical meters of height gain. Oh well…

Scramble route for Mt. MacFarlane and Mt. Pierce

Scramble route for Mt. MacFarlane and Mt. Pierce

By 7:30 am I met Al and his buddy from work, Mark, at the MacDonalds by Highway 1 and 264 street junction, and within an hour we’d already started the long and steep hike up Pierce Lake trail. Mark set up an blistering pace right at the start and after trying to keep up with him for about 20 minutes Al decided to take over the lead and slow down the pace. I felt very pleased about that as I was already sweating like hell. There’s not much to say about the trail to the lower Pierce Lake except for a boulder field followed by a section of elevation loss before crossing the creek to its east side. So after 1000 vertical meters of grind we arrived at the lake. Without having to descend to the lakeshore we followed the trail skirting around on the east side high above the water level, crossed a slide path and entered the forest again. The trail from here on degraded dramatically so I ditched sneakers and put my boots on.

Hiking through this boulder field

Hiking through this boulder field

The typical forested hike

The typical forested hike

Arriving at the lower Pierce Lake

Arriving at the lower Pierce Lake

There’s a surprise for us not far up on the trail and all I heard was a “Fuck” then Al and Mark started running uphill behind me. I didn’t know what the heck happened so ran together with him… Then I realized we just passed a wasp nest… I was in front and didn’t notice anything but Mark was the unlucky guy and got stung 5 times… Thankfully he wasn’t allergic to that. Higher up there’s a few short scrambling steps to traverse or ascend, and there’s even one fixed rope helping hikers out. In roughly an hour after passing the lower lake we made to the much-prettier upper Pierce Lake, with our first objective on the right side.

The trail led us across this slide path

The trail led us across this slide path

Finally started to see our objective looming above

Finally started to see our objective looming above

Looking back towards the lower Lake

Looking back towards the lower Lake

Upwards and onwards...

Upwards and onwards…

Mark negotiating a short scrambling step along the trail

Mark negotiating a short scrambling step along the trail

Waterfalls cascading down

Waterfalls cascading down

Higher up

Higher up

Mt. Pierce is this vegetated summit

Mt. Pierce is this vegetated summit

Our first objective - Mt. MacFarlane

Our first objective – Mt. MacFarlane

The outflow of upper Pierce Lake

The outflow of upper Pierce Lake

The upper Pierce Lake

The upper Pierce Lake

We took a necessary break and started the final 200 vertical meters of grind. There’s a trail/path along most of the way except for a few scrambling sections. One step was particularly wet making the slabs slippery. Shortly after we arrived at the top with the pointy Slesse Mountain stealing the show.

Mark ascending the wet slab step

Mark ascending the wet slab step

Al hiking up

Al hiking up

Started to see the popular Elk-Thurston-Mercer ridge traverse

Started to see the popular Elk-Thurston-Mercer ridge traverse

Looking upwards along the route

Looking upwards along the route

Looking down, the Upper Lake is a beautiful one

Looking down, the Upper Lake is a beautiful one

Steep grind...

Steep grind…

Al posing along the ridge. Mt. Pierce behind

Al posing along the ridge. Mt. Pierce behind

Another look at Mt. Pierce and Upper Pierce Lake

Another look at Mt. Pierce and Upper Pierce Lake

Almost there!

Almost there!

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

From L to R: Pleiades, Larrabee, then the Border Peaks

From L to R: Shuksan, Pleiades, Larrabee, then the Border Peaks

The Rexford Group

The Rexford Group

Zooming-in towards Chilliwack area

Zooming-in towards Chilliwack area

Cheam Peak and Lady Peak

Cheam Peak and Lady Peak

Baby Munday Peak is a technical summit on Cheam Range. Stewart Peak behind

Baby Munday Peak is a technical summit on Cheam Range. Stewart Peak behind

Welch Peak is the highest in Cheam Range

Welch Peak is the highest in Cheam Range

Williams Peak in foreground. The big one behind is Mt. Outram

Williams Peak in foreground. The big one behind is Mt. Outram

Silvertip Mountain

Silvertip Mountain

Mt. Rexford

Mt. Rexford

Illusion Peaks

Illusion Peaks

Crossover Peak is another interesting one

Crossover Peak is another interesting one

The super imposing Slesse Mountain - high on the list...

The super imposing Slesse Mountain – high on the list…

Glacier Peak way down south in Washington

Glacier Peak way down south in Washington

Mt. Shuksan

Mt. Shuksan

Mt. Larrabee

Mt. Larrabee

American Border Peak

American Border Peak

Canadian Border Peak

Canadian Border Peak

Mt. McGuire

Mt. McGuire

Looking down at the lower Pierce Lake

Looking down at the lower Pierce Lake

Me on the summit of Mt. MacFarlane

Me on the summit of Mt. MacFarlane

Al approaching the summit

Al approaching the summit

Another panorama. Click to view large size.

Another panorama. Click to view large size.

We took another long break on the summit but since we still had another peak to ascend we had to get going. Partway down Mt. MacFarlane Mark decided to forgo Mt. Pierce so Al and I speeded up and got down to the upper Pierce Lake in no time. The wet slab was still tricky and “crab-walking” was the key the make it reasonable.

The Upper Pierce Lake

The Upper Pierce Lake

Al descending MacFarlane

Al descending MacFarlane

Mt. Pierce didn’t look like an exciting objective, but since I was there already I had to give it a go. It didn’t look terribly long anyway and appeared like a nice little ridge walk.. Or maybe not…