Mount Pierce Southwest Face
Mount Pierce is the furthest north peak on the Slesse/Nesakwatch Divide in the Canadian Cascades of British Columbia. The first recorded ascent was made by a BC Survey Party June 21st, 1948. E. Curtis, M. Turner, and A. Wilson built a cairn on the summit and returned September 5th to place a register inside the cairn. The cairn and register are still present to this day. Pierce is a lesser prominent peak and therefore is rarely chosen as the sole objective. In fact some years pass without seeing a single ascent despite the ease of access.
Slesse/Nesakwatch Divide Peaks
The Pierce Lake Trail passes by the larger of the two lakes and then becomes an unofficial trail leading to the smaller upper lake, a gain of over 1200 meters. From there another boot path splits off over toward the south ridge of Mount Pierce, which is another 150 meters above the lake. Along the south ridge there are a few short scramble sections, class 2 and 3.
Upper Pierce Lake
Pierce Lake, the larger of the two, is where the official trail ends. Good camping can be found there. Please use extra care if camping at Upper Pierce Lake, for this is in the tender alpine zone. Between the two lakes one must ascend a rugged trail along the side of a cliff band. This area might require extra care and crampons/ice axe if snow is present.
Cheam Range Seen From The Summit
Upper Pierce Lake is nestled in an amphitheater shaped bowl. On the other side of the bowl sits Mount Macfarlane
. Those with extra vigor may wish to ascend both Pierce and Macfarlane for a full day trip. But many average parties may prefer to take two days. From the trailhead to the summit requires 1650 meters of vertical gain (5413 feet) and 21 kilometers round-trip (13 miles).
A Hiker Visible In The Scramble Crux
The views from the summit of Pierce are quite good. To the north is the Cheam Range. Welch Peak is it's obvious highpoint there and to Welch Peak's left (west) is Baby Munday Peak. One can’t help but wonder how such a gnarly looking peak could get a name like that. To the southeast Illusion Peaks, Mount Rexford, the Nesakwatch Valley, and even distant Luna Peak are visible. To the south, the higher peaks of the Slesse/Nesakwatch Divide look particularly impressive.
Macfarlane Above Pierce Lake
Follow the trail until it comes to a log bridge across
Pierce Creek. On the far side of Pierce Creek continue along the trail to Pierce Lake. From Pierce Lake continue on the trail as it crosses an open slope
east of the lake and then ascends the upper basin though an avalanche debris zone. The trail is less well defined here and might be soggy in the spring or early summer. There are a few steep sections which bypass headwalls.
Pierce South Ridge
Below the first headwall, cross the creek to the left side, where the trail goes up through the trees. Eventually you will come to the base of the second headwall. The second headwall has an obvious ledge which traverses through the middle of it. Do not be tempted to use the ledge. It is down-sloping and hazardous when wet. Instead, follow the faint trail across the talus which ends at the right side of the headwall. Here you will see where the trail ascends steep dirt along the right.
Scrambling The Crux Section
Above the second headwall the trail ascends left of the creek on open slopes until it reaches the base of some bare rock slabs. Scramble up the slabs and you will come to Upper Pierce Lake. From the upper lake, turn left and follow the boot path over to the south ridge of Mount Pierce. First pass over a bump on the ridge with a scramble step at the far side. Then follow the ridge north to the summit. There is one unavoidable class 3 section which is 7 meters high and has some loose rock. Excercise caution there.
1948 Summit Cairn
From Vancouver BC, drive east on Hwy 1 for 86 kilometers, through Abbotsford, and take exit 119A. Turn right and follow Vedder Road south for 5.5 kilometers through the town of Chilliwack. Turn left on Chilliwack Lake Road. Proceed another 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) to the signed Pierce Lake Trailhead on the right. Follow this road 300 meters to the parking area. Do not leave valuables unattended in your car.
When To Climb / Camping
Summer and fall are best, but spring ascents may be possible depending on snow conditions. If attempting in the spring, bring snow travel gear and beware of cornices and avalanche.
To the best of my knowledge, camping is permitted. Leave no trace and use extra care in alpine zones with respect to sensitive plant life.