Mount Gould, Mount Rixford
By: Nile Sorenson
A nice day hike to make two less interesting peaks MORE interesting.
Mt Gould, (13,005 ft) is easily reached in a sand and scree slog from Kearsarge Pass. The route from the pass is hardly anything to write home about. It is primarily class I with a class 3 move (it is hard to call it class 3) near the summit. The view from Mt. Gould is spectacular looking toward the south with University Peak and the rugged Kearsarge Pinnacles nearby. Williamson, Tyndall, Junction, the Videttes and Deerhorn are further on the horizon southward. To the north lies the Rae Lakes Basin, and Clarence King a little northwesterly.
Mt Rixford, (12,887 ft) is a gentle class 2 climb on a broad south facing slope. The views are similar.
Both peaks can be climbed in a single day by traversing between the peaks with some neat class 2 scrambling on a "not so narrow knife edge" running the ridge connecting the two. The trick is to do Rixford first. This avoids the sand and scree slogs on both peaks.
Get an early start from Onion Valley and go up to Kearsarge Pass. Descend the western side of the pass toward Charlotte Lake. Leave the trail and go cross country in a westerly direction at about 3,500 m or around 11,500 ft. This is a gently sloping area with easy cross country travel. Stay level and don't lose any altitude. The southern slopes of Mt. Rixford are easily seen from here descending down to Bullfrog Lake. Gain this slope bypassing a small valley that leads to a saddle immediately east of Mt. Rixford. Don't be tempted to go northward up this nice looking valley; it ends in a giant scree slog. Ascend Rixford on the south facing talus slope. It is easy going to the summit.
From the summit of Rixford a small saddle immediately eastward is visible. Descend down an easterly facing scree slope just south of the Rixford summit block. Do not go too much lower than the level of the saddle. From this elevation do a steady slow ascent toward Mt. Gould. One can almost see a game trail just below the south side of the ridge that runs between the two peaks. Occasionally crest the ridge with class 2 scrambling and look downward at the steep drop offs into the lakes just west of Dragon Peak. One will soon gain the flat sandy area just north west of Mt. Gould. This is an easy walk up to Gould and avoids the steeper sandy slog from Kearsarge Pass.
From the summit of Gould, one can descend the sand and scree slope to the Kearsarge Pass trail east of the pass and be back to the cars in the afternoon.
This makes a great day, two good peaks with beautiful views, and only descending scree and sand rather than climbing in it.
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