Trip Report: (Pelion, Tantalus, Dione, Serratus, Alpha)
This report describes a high traverse of the Tantalus Range starting with a hike up Sigurd creek, ascents of Pelion, Tantalus, Dione, Serratus, and Alpha, followed by a descent to the Squamish River, cable crossing and mountain bike back to the truck. Four long days to lake lovely water and one easy day out, it was a wonderful mountaineering adventure. August 12, 2006.
Day 1: Sigurd Creek and Pelion. We stashed a mountain bike at the spur road leading to the cable car crossing of the Squamish river. We then drove to the Sigurd creek trail head. We hiked up the Sigurd creek trail, traversed around east side of prominent 2200m tower at the end of the NE ridge, passed through the col at ~grid:745,240, traversed and climbed the north side glacier and an easy rock scramble to the summit. Descended south ridge until SW glacier could be reached. Descended and traversed on west side of the mountain until possible to easily rejoin the Squamish-Clowhom divide at approximately 2000m elevation. After a couple of foiled attempts, descended from the bump at ~755,225 by contouring on the south side approximately 50-100m below the summit then dropped steeply. Great bivy with water about 20 minutes before the Zenith col ~761,219. 13.5hrs from the truck.
Day 2: Tantalus. Hiked to the Zenith col, got stuck on the ridge at ~765,213, doubled back and traversed on the east side of the ridge and onto the Rumbling glacier. Ascended snow, then easy rock, then steep snow, then a bit more rock to the notch in the ridge at ~761,201 (potential large and very large moats during all transitions from rock to snow provided multiple cruxes throughout the trip). Great scrambling along the north ridge of Tantalus with occasional forays onto the west side snow staying on the ridge crest the entire way until it abutted the head of the Rumbling glacier ~762,187. Very short flat glacier crossing followed by some broken 5th class rock led to a high steep snow/ice field. Kicked steps up good snow, crossed one very short section of ice, rejoined the rock, easy scrambling to a notch where the southeast spur route intersects, more easy scrambling to the summit (14 years after my first trip into Lake Lovely Water and 8 Tantalus Range trips later I am finally on the summit of the big T….yahoo). Descended near the ridge crest of the south east spur until possible to rappel into the ‘Darling’ couloir (see Alpine Select), descent below this point looked poor possibly due to a lack of snow, instead a 5th class rising traverse was made to the Dione-Witch’s tooth col followed by an exposed traverse onto the snow below Dione. Dione was temporarily bypassed in favor of a great bivy on the ridge crest ~767,181 (no free water but lots of snow). 14hrs.
Day 3: Dione and Serratus. Started the day (backpack free) with a quick climb of the SE face of Dione. Back to the bivy spot, then great scrambling down the Dione ridge until ~773,171, left the rock to save a bit of time descending the snow to the Serratus, Dione col and lunch in the shiny new Jim Haberl hut. A combination of a known party high in the Serratus west face couloir, some cloud obscuring the route and the general unattractiveness of the line, made us opt for the south gully that climbs from the Serratus-Ionia col. This turned out to be the most uncomfortable section of the trip due to the very steep snow, a lack of snow protection and a sketchy bridge across a mid height schrund. An exit right onto the rock was made at the first opportunity followed by easy 3rd class scrambling to the summit. About 20 minutes of easy scrambling brought us to another fabulous bivy on the ridge crest ~784,157 (no water, down climbed to collect snow). 12hrs.
Day 4: Serratus East Ridge, Alpha and Lake Lovely Water. Descending the east ridge of Serratus was the mental crux of the trip. It is a compact series of ongoing towers and obstacles, the route finding is difficult when traveling west to east and it is difficult to get any flow to your movement unless you are comfortable free soloing exposed 4th class terrain (we moved almost continuously, mostly simul-climbed, left 2 slings as ‘top-rope’ pieces for the second, made 3 rappels and bypassed the last 2 towers on steep north facing snow and it still took over 9hrs from the summit to the Alpha-Serratus col, less than 1.5km on the map!!). Climbed easy snow on the north side of Alpha to rejoin the west ridge at ~798,157 followed by easy scrambling to the summit. A glorious descent down the 3rd class scrambling of the east ridge followed by 2 rappels ended the technical rock section of the trip. A bit of easy glacier travel gave way to the steep heather and tree descent down to Lake Lovely Water. 14hrs.
The trip had been planned as a four day affair but the time spent on the east ridge of Serratus stymied our quest for burgers and beer that night. Instead we opted for the welcome faces in the alpine club hut and were treated to a sumptuous chili diner by some generous climbers who work for a local rafting company.
Day 5: Lake Lovely Water Trail, Cable Crossing & Bicycle Ride. After a lovely sleep at the alpine club Hilton, the hike down the lake lovely water trail to the Squamish river was superb, the new trail routing along the river to the cable car was a welcome change from the old bush route through the logging slash and crossing the cable was exciting as always. A sunny bike ride along the Squamish Valley road was the perfect finale to a grand loop of a magical mountain range.
50m 9mm Rope, Alpine Rack, Ice Axes, Crampons, 2 Ice Screws (a picket or two would have been nice).Edited by DougBrownVancouver