Tantalus Range, Squamish BC by Jonaven Moore
For me, getting into the Tantalus was one of those sorts of things where you realize that for a long time you were looking for something and its been right in front of you the whole time. I’ve been kind of realizing this for a while in snowboarding, and have to thank my mom and stepdad for moving us to Western Canada 20 years ago. BC is blessed with mountains that are on par with anything, anywhere else in the world. It’s started to become starkly clear when I would go on a trip to Switzerland, or Russia or some other incredible destination snowboarding, and I would be so, so, excited on coming home.
The last couple of years for me have been about trying to get after some objectives that were closer to home. Stuff that I’d looked at for a long time, and just never quite gotten to. Well, its pretty much impossible to drive the sea-to-sky highway on a clear day and not look up at the Tantalus in awe. It is cracked ice, and jagged spires rising nearly out of the ocean that rival Alaska in every way. Living under them in the Squamish Valley only added to my once-removed intimacy with these mountains - I watched the sun rise on them nearly every morning that I woke up at home.
The last time that I was up there we rushed into a bunch of stuff with a helicopter and got our asses handed to us. One of my nine lives used up, and definitely one of Ryan’s. We had done two runs (one on Serratus and one off Tantalus) and on our third run on Serratus the whole thing fractured wall to wall (probably class 2.5 or 3) and thankfully ripped full path by itself, leaving us clinging to the top of a now icy mountain with our stomachs trying to climb out of our throats.
This time was the polar opposite of that trip. We had a bigger crew, were dropped off up there well prepared, with camping gear, and the intent to climb all of our lines on foot. The best way to feel anything out is to take your time going up it. You have to be really confident in something before your willing to spend hours climbing on it.
Likely, the coolest part of the trip for me was bivying at the top of Tantauls’ north ridge. I wanted to ride a line that I looked up at from my place, but the trick was that it got light starting at about 7am and by about 10 or so am you didn’t want to be anywhere near it - it would be getting too much sun and the avalanche danger spiking. The rumbling glacier itself only added to this, because though there was a bench to stop on, below was holes and crevasses that you wanted nothing to do with. I decided that the best plan for the line that I wanted to ride would be to climb up it in the evening, dig a bivy at the top of the line and spend the night. I’ve always wanted to wake up in the morning from a small perch, look over the edge at the line, get my stuff together, throw my backpack with my sleeping gear for a good tumble, and then ride down light to go get it.