This was too cool of a trip to not get it’s own blog post but things have been a little crazy lately. It’s hard to avoid getting anxious for ski season to start every fall but this October the weather was incredible so it was easy to get distracted by running and climbing in the alpine.
Nick and I were driving home from UBC and hemming and hawing about plans for the weekend and could only decide that we wanted to do some high alpine scrambling before the weather turned for good. We sent a message to Jim Sanford who is usually up for an adventure when he is not busy with work. He was pretty keen to get up into the Tantalus Range and proposed booking a helicopter to Lake Lovely Water for his family and offered for us to tag along. Not ones to say no to such an opportunity, plans were made for the three of us to scramble a U-shaped loop above LLW.
The poor-mans approach to the Tantalus Range is from sea-level by somehow crossing the Squamish River (usually by canoe or rigging a pully across a cable car wire) and then involves a major hike up into the alpine via a steep trail. It is pretty difficult to accomplish much in the alpine in a day because of the involved approach. Using a helicopter however is a different story! A quick drive to the Squamish Airport, a stop at the coffee shop, some waivers, and all the sudden you are loading into the heli. Seven minutes later, we were dropped at the Sandspit Camp on Lake Lovely Water, waving goodbye to the pilot. Pretty easy.
Jim’s wife and son set out on a hike around the lake (it’s actually quite large) and Nick, Jim, and I headed the other direction up the basin towards Niobe Peak. We traversed out onto the North Face of the peak – roughly similar to the route Carl, Martin, and I took a few years ago in the winter when we climbed the E Ridge but instead continued further to the North Rib. From the low angle slabs, we found an entrance onto the broad rib and started pleasant scrambling up granite and heather ledges. Soon after starting, we encountered a skiff of snow that thinly covered everything and made travel significantly more difficult. Scrambling on the granite was fine but the slopping heather ledges were a bit unnerving. The route is excellent however and with no snow, would be a very enjoyable 3rd/4th class scramble.
From the summit, we crossed over the neighbouring peak Pelops, and then continued on the ridge Eastward towards Omega. We climbed gullies just on the South side of Omega to the summit and then started descending the North Ridge back towards Lake Lovely Water. The North Ridge of Omega starts off (from the top) relatively easy but then steepens off for two 15m pitches. With just enough snow to make it slippery, we opted to rappel with just a bit of down-climbing. We worked our way downhill, following faint trails and flagging until we hit treeline, then down a dry creaked to hit the Lake Lovely Water Trail. Here we headed to the ACC hut at the outflow of the lake to meet Jim’s family, and 15min later, our helicopter arrived to whisk us back to Squamish!
Climbing in the Tantalus is one of the most spectacular places in SW BC. The N Rib of Niobe is a really pleasant moderate scramble that gives sweet views over Lake Lovely Water and across to Alpha, Serratus, and Tantalus. I can’t wait to go back on skis!