East Rixford Peak is a 12,800-foot (3,901-meter) peak located in the Sierra Nevada of California. It does not carry an official name, but looks like a twin of slightly smaller proportions to 12,877-foot Mount Rixford, less than one mile to the west and connected by a sharp ridgeline. This ridgeline extends eastward from the twin Rixford peaks to the snow-capped mass of Mount Gould, where the crest takes a right-angle turn to the north and creates the fantastic fingers and spires of the Dragon Peak ridgeline. All of this alpine glory stands as a great amphitheater to the popular Rae Lakes basin and surrounding drainages, with East Rixford Peak an eye-catching pyramid standing above the heart of it all.
The summit can be reached by class-3/4 scrambling routes on all sides on the mountain. The south face is an aesthetic wall of striped metamorphic rock that provides a non-technical and relatively secure path to the moderately experienced alpinist.
SUMMARY: I climbed East Rixford Peak with Max and Giselle in late June of the year 2015 during our 50-day northward romp along the main crest of the Sierra Nevada. This ascent occurred on the third of ten days spent bagging peaks between the towns of Independence and Bishop. Casey, who accompanied us on ascents of Dragon Peak and Mount Gould, made his departure at the highest pass below East Rixford Peak, returning to his home in Mammoth while Max, Giselle and I scrambled our way to the summit via the south face. We descended the east face of the mountain back to our camp below Gould Pass.
26 June, 2015
We snooze until 9:00am at our little camp on a small bench in the vast moraine on the west side of Gould Pass. The air is thick with smoke due to rampant wildfires in the western United States, but Rae Lakes basin still looks majestic with its aesthetic ring of colorful metamorphic peaks. Rising almost directly at the head of the basin is the twin-peaked massif of Mount Rixford. The 12,800-ft East Peak beckons us from camp, as we know that we will need to take Casey across its eastern shoulder in order to send him on his way over Kearsarge Pass, to the trailhead and then home. It looks like an entertaining scramble from whichever side we might choose.
The four of us start slogging up to Gould Pass, an affair which involves over one hour of climbing up a delicate staircase of sharpened talus boulders.
From the pass, we trace the singular knife-edge ridgeline as it arcs across Mount Gould and the Rixford massif. We tag the 13,005-ft summit of Mount Gould along the way, an ascent which will be detailed in another article on this website.
The four of us scamper down to the 12,200-ft saddle below East Rixford Peak, marked by a gully of bright green scree.
Here at the saddle we bid farewell to Casey, who goes skipping down to Kearsarge Pass and thence onward to meet his father at Onion Valley trailhead.
Attacking the summit of East Rixford from this aspect seems like an intimidating prospect, especially taking into account the presence of a series of rather forbidding gendarme towers en route to the top. We contour the gendarmes on the south side of the ridge and commence scrambling up the south face directly.
The terrain on the south face begins at low-angle scree and progresses to fun blocky climbing on fairly exposed rock.
We succeed in reaching the 12,800-foot summit of East Rixford Peak in less than half an hour from the saddle. The most spectacular view is to the north, looking down the barrel of Rae Lakes Basin into the hazy sea of distant peaks. Lakes and stone towers adorn the eastern ridgeline, which extends all the way to Dragon Peak.
The summit itself is a treat to explore, featuring several hundred yards of airy knife-edge ridge to explore. Continuing along the ridge to Mount Rixford does not look as fun, however, so we take to descending back to camp.
Giselle and Max descend the east face directly while I re-trace my steps and meet them down in the depths of Dragon Basin. Forty minutes of talus-hopping takes us back to camp just before sundown.
The three of us enjoy the surreal sunset scene that unfolds on the western horizon, turning the pointed granite spires of the King-Cotter massif into fantastic silhouettes.
27 June, 2015
In the morning, the three of us pack up camp and descend Dragon Basin (in rather exciting fashion!) to the popular Rae Lakes. Along the way we are treated to splendid views of East Rixford Peak. It’s such a prominent pyramid that one can hardly believe it doesn’t carry a name of it’s own.
…later in the day, Max and I reach the summit of Fin Dome (read the article on Fin Dome here) and are able to survey the entire awesome ridgeline stretching from Dragon Peak to Mount Rixford. The pyramid of East Rixford Peak stands as one of the most prominent features along the crest.