There are 2 trails into the Tantalus Range, one to Lake Lovelywater and one up Sigurd Creek. The Lake Lovelywater trail gives access to the Tantalus Hut at Lake Lovelywater and the surrounding peaks (Omega, Iota, Pelops, Niobe, Serratus and Alpha). Continuing on from Lake Lovelywater, one can reach the Jim Haberl Hut at the Serratus-Dione col. This provides access to climbs on the north side of Serratus, Dione and the south side of Tantalus. The Sigurd Creek trail gives access to the climbing routes on Pelion and Ossa. A branch off this trail goes up Sigurd Peak.
Unless you are going to fly in (boooo!) you'll have to get yourself down to the Squamish River at the right place. To get there, turn left off highway 99 at the Alice Lake intersection, just north of Squamish. This road takes you back down into the valley (in fact it was part of the original highway). Keep your eyes peeled for a bridge over the Cheakamus River. Just past the bridge, keep left at an intersection. The side road to the river is 2.1km past the Cheakamus River bridge. It's also the third road on the left after the intersection. There is now a gate on this road, and you need permission from the land owner to get your vehicle down to the river. Otherwise it's an extra 1km or so of walking, which isn't so bad unless you are carrying a canoe.
A trail goes from the Squamish River up to Lake Lovelywater, where you will also find that Tantalus Hut. This trail is very steep, and usually takes 3-4 hours to get up it. The lowest section of the trail goes through a clearcut, and this part can be quite overgrown.
Important: Parking Update
- Don't park right off the Squamish Valley Road under the electrical towers, I parked here and received a warning letter left on my windshield wiper from Squamish Nation. Nothing happened, but if we VOC'ers continue to park her they might start towing the cars away, or even worse close off this area.
- You want to turn off at this point (49.799940, -123.176064) from the Squamish Valley Road and keep driving straight (NW) along a dirt road for a few minutes, you'll reach a point where there's a yellow gate on your right, turn left and keep going for about 1 km to the canoe loading and cable car area, park here!
- If it's been raining recently then I suggest a 4WD vehicle and/or a high clearance car, there can be deep mud/water puddles to get through and areas with deep sand as well.
An excellent crossing method. Faster and less gear intensive than the tyrolean, but requires a canoe and some paddling skill. Difficulty depends on how high the river is. It's easiest to paddle upstream on the east side of the river, and then ferry across to a beach on the west side. The beach landing where the trail starts is marked with flagging tape, and some sticks buried in the sand, but it's difficult to spot from downstream. If the gate on the road to the river is locked and the guy that lives there isn't home, you may be out of luck.
Alternatively you could put a canoe in upstream at the Ashlu Bridge and paddle down to the trailhead. On the return, paddle down to brakendale to get the canoe out, and then hitchhike (or stash a bike) to pick up your vehicle.
|This article describes a technique or task that may be unsafe|
|Please exercise caution when utilizing this information.|
The cable for the disused Water Survey cable car can be used to cross the Squamish River as described in Kevin McLane's book Alpine Select. The crossing is about 150 meter long and there are two cables. The lower one is about 1 inch in diameter. The upper one is smaller, but has aircraft warning markers attached to it making a Tyrolean impractical. Some people have been know to walk along the lower cable while holding the upper cable instead of doing a Tyrolean.
If you choose to do this consider the following suggestions:
- Use work gloves to avoid damage to your hands
- Suspend your pack from a separate line on the cable, and pull it using a long length (e.g. 5m cordalette). This stops the pack swinging like a pendulum which impedes progress
- Use a short length (e.g. 30cm sling) to suspend yourself from the cable as pulling with straight arms is difficult
- Secure yourself to the towers when setting up the Tyrolean
- The two weighted carabiners used by this procedure become quite worn and should be retired from climbing after use. Alternatively, steel carabiners could be used.
- Suspending yourself from a bike U-lock or a length of chain (make sure your carabiner fits through the links) instead of a large carabiner works well, but back it up with a carabiner
**Suggestions From Recent Ventures:
- The Tyrolean generates a lot of friction, so unless you don't mind destroying entirely two large carabiners (Minimum Size: https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5006-999/Rocklock-Screwgate-Biner) and completely wearing yourself out (very physically exhausting) you should walk along the lower cable!
- If you want to do the Tyrolean, consider buying an industrial grade pulley system (check out the store Triton in Squamish right next to the Tim Horton's) and splitting the cost among all members. If you have a ton of weight to carry up then this is your best option, you're basically zip-lining!! I saw people using these and they crossed in 30 secs compared to 10min!! RECENT UPDATE: I have found the right sized pulley, it's called the Vanguard Block (8 ton) and Triton sells it for 112$. Google "triton vanguard block" and read PDF (first link) about info on this product, scroll down it's called the YARDING BLOCK. Make sure you buy the largest size (8 ton I believe) so it can fit the 1 inch cable).
-I walked on the lower cable and dragged my 40 lb bag on the lower cable behind me and it hung by a 1ft length of chain (didn't want to retire yet another carabiner) and this process was exhausting (so much friction)! Imagine pulling your body weight....not easy!
Only champion swimmers need apply. The river is about 100m wide, fast flowing and cold.
A trail up Sigurd Creek at the northern end of the Tantalus Range provides access to climbs on Pelion and Ossa Mountains. The squamish river can be crossed on a bridge here, so no shenanigans with canoes or tyrolians are required. Drive up the Squamish River and take the Ashlu Creek Road (first bridge on the left after hitting the gravel). This road goes over another bridge across Ashlu Creek itself, and then there is a spur road on the left just after this bridge. The trail leaves this road on the left where the road makes a sharp turn back to the right, only a couple hundred meters up from the junction with the Ashlu Main.
A trail from the Squamish River up Monmouth Creek to Echo Lake gives access to the seldom visited southern part of the Tantalus Range. This trail is only accessible by crossing the Squamish River by boat from the road accessing the Squamish Spit.
This is how the ACC got their nickname "Airborne Climbers of Canada". Recommended for those who want to fly in coolers full of wine to the Tantalus Hut and then lock everyone else out.
- East Ridge
- A highly recommended rock route. The east ridge starts out with 1 pitch of 5.8, one pitch of ~5.6 and then a long class 3-4 climb to the summit on beautiful granite.
- Southwest Ridge
- A difficult scrambles route, normal route for ascent/descent.
- East Ridge
- A classic mountaineering and alpine rock route. The East Ridge will test your route finding and ability to not send death blocks down on to your partner below you. Approach from the Alpha-Serratus col. A recommended link-up is to climb the East Ridge of Alpha in to the East Ridge of Serratus. There is a beautiful bivvy spot in the Alpha-Serratus col on rock slabs in the middle of a snow slope. Running water will be plentiful late July through August. Ascend from the col on 4th class terrain, aiming for the top of the first main gendarme. Follow weaknesses in the ridge, trending rightwards. Discontinuous crack systems and sections of mid-5th face climbing will tempt you directly upwards. Avoid these, as gaining the ridge should never be more than 4th class. Once on the ridge, you will need to make a 15m freehanging rappel off the first gendarme. Be careful not to get your rope stuck here. From here, follow the beautiful ridge line up and over numerous gendarmes towards the summit. Despite the grading in Alpine Select, there are a couple sections of exposed mid-5th climbing along the ridge. Many will want to rope up for these sections. The rock quality is substantially better along the ridge line. From the summit, rappel the bolted west face descent route (if you can find it) with a 60m rope. If you cannot find the rappel route, either downclimb the south couloir or the west face. Both these route are easier to downclimb earlier in the season when they are snow filled. Without snow, they are a mixture of kitty litter and precarious boulders; tread lightly. Later in the season, bergschrunds will guard the base of both of these routes and will most likely require a rappel to cross. If heading back to Lake Lovely Water, pass through the Serratus-Ionia col, cross the southern slopes beneath Serratus, aiming for the Russian Army Camp. Don't be tempted by the snow gullies directly below Serratus; they cliff out. Alternatively, carry on towards Dione and Tantalus for the full value Tantalus Range experience.
Niobe and Pelops
These two summits are separated by a small snowy gap. The two peaks are usually climbed together, as the traverse from one to the other is short and easy.
- From the gap
- Both summits are easy scrambles (class 2-3) from the Niobe-Pelops col. The route involves a small amount of glacier travel to gain the col from the East side. A small bergschrund opens up across this slope later in the summer climbing season. The col can also be gained from the west without glacier travel, but this requires taking a boat to the west end of Lake Lovelywater and climbing to the Niobe - Lydia col.
- SE Ridge of Pelops
- The direct climb of the ridge is a class 3 scramble up from the Pelops - Iota col. There is bushier terrain to climbers left that provides an easier option. This route can be climbed with no glacier travel by traversing the summit of Iota.
Omega mountain is immediately south of Lake Lovelywater. It has a steep, rocky north face that is visible from Lake Lovelywater.
- West Ridge
- Class 3-5. The west ridge is reached from Niobe basin by steep snow or scree slopes. If climbed directly from the toe, the ridge is reported to be class 5. The most difficult climbing can be avoided by starting further right on bushier slopes on the south face, keeping the difficulty to class 3.
Pelion is usually climbed as a 2 day trip from Sigurd Creek, but it can also be done as a long day trip. Cumulative elevation gain is around 7500ft if starting from the Squamish river. Knock off 500ft with a high clearance 4x4.
- NW Face
- The direct route up Pelion from Sigurd Creek is a spectacular ski descent in winter or spring. This is very serious avalanche terrain. Later in summer, this route can be blocked by crevasses where the glacier is forced around a couple of rock ribs. The final few meters to the summit along the ridge are a class 3 scramble on nice granite.
- NE ridge
- When crevasses on the north face open up, this route remains a viable option. Climb up slabs and talus on the left side of the NW face glacier, or get onto the subsidiary NW ridge even further to climbers left. The NE ridge of Pelion has many rock towers on it. The route goes left of one of the most prominent towers, through a wide gap and around to the back side of the mountain where there is a snowfield. Cross back to the north side through a notch above the tower. At this point, the route connects with the direct NW face route just below the uppermost bergschrund. The bergschrund is best crossed or outflanked on the far right side. The final few meters to the summit along the ridge are a class 3 scramble on nice granite.
- West Ridge
- The standard route up Ossa starts from the moraine camp in Sigurd Creek and heads west through meadows to a trio of lakes. The route then heads south and wraps around the mountain and then finally up the west ridge. This is the farthest ridge to climbers right and is not visible from camp. Near the top there is a tricky notch to negotiate and some walking on exposed ledges before a short scramble up to the summit (class 3). The notch is best crossed by descending a groove on climber's right.