Tantalus Traverse, May 27-28


Nick and mountains, a fair chunk of the way up Pelion; with Matt and Ziff behind me.

Matt & Ziff’s awesome TR, pictures and video are here

After the obligatory midnight map scanning,

And advice, and route planning,

A 3:30 Squamish waking,

With climbing muscles aching,

It was time for skis to ski,

And pointy mountains to see.

We drove 2 meters up the logging road

We joked, it’s to what our success was owed

Then we flew up Sigurd thanks to the BCMC,

And soon at snowline we started to ski,

The great kind of spring skiing with enough snow,

To flatten the alder like a bow, although

Maybe more snow bridges would have been nice

Cause at one avy path, a dry boot we sacrificed

Thankfully I crossed it unscathed and unbathed

But only cause Nick had my pack and hand was I saved.

Sigurd’s actual bridge was almost okay,

But too much faff, so we said ‘Nay’,

To snow walls, and ski strapping, and step making;

Instead up higher we crossed without breaking

the thin slice of snowpack with a bonus swim

Although we did fill our bottles to the brim

With the last free water, and started up Pelion

up by the NNW ridge with my legs in rebellion

From 30 to 2200 is a lot

And we weren’t even at the camping spot

It sure helped we drove up the road

Or even more my stride would have slowed


Where we came from – zooming in you can make out the tracks, one long cut across Pelion, then following the ridge.

I dubbed this the “traverse of the burning right thigh”

And I was glad there were no avalanches to spy

Sun a light sight, thanks for not being too bright,

Rocks of quartz and albite, thanks for not trying flight,

Cornices white, thanks for staying at height,

And sluffs quite slight, thanks for the minimal fright.

We crossed late, just a few hours more

and at the top, the night we would’ve had to snore

But instead down the SE ridge we went

The short rappel bit on skis we sent

By going far left, then right -

Sideslipping the trees was alright.

Finally up to camp on the Zenith col

Where we watched Tantalus rocks fall

Safe from a knoll,

before us the Rumbling Glacier whole.

After we all talked over tomorrow’s stroll

I napped with my feet in ski boot parole

While Matt went to check out Zenith with Ziff

But probably they found a cliff

Because they said it was gnar

Even if it was not far.


The Rumbling Glacier, from just above camp

We said our ‘goodnight’s long before sunset

So across the glacier we could go without fret

That said – it was still pretty unnerving

With ice runnels ready to make your skis go a-swerving

They were all the concavities from wet slides past

Refrozen, impervious to ski crampon and skin, glassed

But Nick was there at the end of the rope

Making me feel very safe on the slope

When I was half doing the splits

My edges side-clinging on bits

of the good snow, the one to the sides

Made of breakable crust, away from the slides.

We made it across all the crevasses

and up to where Dione’s pass is

I followed in Matt’s track,

With skis on the pack

While Nick and Ziff went down the ice on their planks

Down solid bergshrunds – to cold, thanks!

Even with good steps it still took me a while

To downclimb 6  hundredths of a mile

But again Nick helped me out,

When he saw me scared slow on the route

We skied ski-edged to the hut

because into the slope our skis didn’t cut

Had some water and the log book we signed

Then down to the lake, turns we entwined

I still don’t know how exactly this came to be

As I didn’t see, but Matt’s ski,

it just decided it no longer wanted to be

Whole to the tip, and he had to sideslip

Most of the rest of the trip.

But Matt is quite great,

so it didn’t even slow down his gait.

The lake looked a little wet

And we didn’t want to be in its depth

So at first we were taking the trail

Until we decided to bail

When we found this avy debris pile

To get us onto the lake water-ski style

It was relaxing being the lightest

on the skis that were widest

And we made it, to the adventure bridge,

(The one that moves more than a smidge)

Then down through the trees, off came the skis

Bootpacking by the waterfalls’ breeze

One slip to a big fall = unease

But soon enough it mellowed out

And then we could chill out,

There was just trail left and moss,

then just the river left to cross.


Legends had told me, you won’t make the reach

Not around the balls – but maybe you could beseech

Nick to clip a sling; underneath, so you don’t go a-swing

And remember, avoid the wasp’s sting!

In the end we did neither and decided under to cling

Each to our own VOC drone

And shoulders sore we all got flown

Nick first, I bet was already biking

While the road we still were hiking

I hear he ran into Breanne which was sweet,

Because my stashed bike has no seat,

and she gave him a ride the last bit

so for 2kms he could sit

Then a bunch of us happy to dine

Went off, to Mags 99.

I feel so lucky to have been

With such great guys, to have seen

The Tantalus for the first time

with ski conditions prime.

: )

The next day I graduated

But I think I felt more educated,

and elated, exhilirated,

Not on stage robe a-swish

But over the Squamish

With my dry and alive wish

Thankfully not gone to the fish.


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5 Responses to Tantalus Traverse, May 27-28

  1. Roland Burton says:

    Lovely. I missed my grad; went up to Garibaldi/Sphinx instead. I probably should have done the grad, just to please my parents. Parents like this sort of thing, I find.

  2. Christian Veenstra says:

    Oh my Lea – I love your trip report poem! And I’m so stoked you had a good time on the traverse!

  3. Nicholas Gobin says:

    Love this! Beautifully written, thank you for posting.

  4. Gabe Frame says:


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