Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Now I can say, "I've been there!"

I don’t know how many countless times I’ve driven past the viewpoint of the Tantalus Range along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Totally captivated by the glaciers cascading over the slopes of Serratus, Tantalus, and Dione, I inevitably blurt out, “I really want to go there!” 


But going “there” is not easy see, the Tantalus Range, though spitting distance from my home in Squamish, is guarded by the mighty Squamish River. There are no bridges to cross the Squamish, and those who finally act on the words, “I really want to go there”, must resort to more creative means of access; a 150 metre tyrolean traverse 50 metres above the fast flowing river, a canoe launched from a few hundred metres up-stream whereby paddlers must make a frantic diagonal approach to the trailhead due to strong currents, or a relatively inexpensive – by helicopter flight standards – flight to the glaciers above. 

So imagine my delight when my Waddington buddy, Chris Christie, asked if Colin and I would like to join him on a short trip to the Tantalus. He had a free heli flight to redeem and there would be room in the helicopter for us!

On September 7 Colin, Chris, Chris’ partner Julie, and the legendary Bruce Kay all piled into the helicopter for the 10 minute flight to the Jim Haberl Hut at the Serratus-Dione Col. Our goal was to climb the new route Dehydrated on Dalwhinnie 5.11b on Dione’s south face. Put up by Marshal German, Jamie Chong, and Conny Amalunxen in 2011, there wasn’t a lot of beta available regarding the quality of the route, but it looked fun, and the climbing was on the warm south face. Works for me!


We climbed the route on September 8, under still perfectly sunny skies, in two groups of two, Chris and Bruce, and Colin and I. There was the obligatory late season moat jump to get onto the rock, which increased the excitement factor of this otherwise pretty tame route. Chris wore his ever present go-pro helmet cam, and capture the whole ordeal on video. It's pretty funny...

 
Dione Moat- Go Pro from Chris Christie on Vimeo.

Turns out the climbing was great fun and the rest of the route went off without a hitch. Here are the photos to prove it…

Colin engaging in some kung-fu trickery to safely cross the moat, change into his rock shoes, and begin the route proper. Sarah's photo.
More moat action. This time Bruce prepares to make is own giant leap of faith. Colin's photo.
The southwest face. Pretty nice looking! Colin's photo.
Colin leading out low on the route. Sarah's photo.

Colin leading out on one of the upper pitches. Sarah's photo.
Sarah leading low on the route. Chris' photo.

Colin mid-way up the route. Awesome photo Chris! Chris' photo.
Colin pondering our next pitch in the glorious sun. Sarah's photo.
Colin following the south ridge of Dione to it's summit. Sarah's photo.
Cumbre with Bruce and Colin! Sarah's photo.
Sarah following the south ridge to the summit of Dione. Howe Sound, and the ocean, is visible in the distance. Chris' photo.
Bruce on an awesome little knife edge ridge we encountered on our descent. Colin's photo.
Sarah and Chris during our descent down the long south ridge. Dione's summit is the highest point on the skyline. Colin's photo.
Looking west towards the ocean. Sarah's photo.
Traversing easy snow slopes back to the Haberl Hut at the end of the day. Colin's photo.
After completing our climb, we intended to wake at the leisurely hour the following day, take a few photos with Chris, then hail our helicopter ride back to town in time for sushi at Kozo Cafe. Those plans all changed when I rolled out of our tent only to discover that we were completely engulfed in cloud, with almost no visibility.

This was almost certainly a very bad sign, and my fears were confirmed when Colin poked his head out the tent door and swore. Crap! Our helicopter wouldn't be picking us up in this! We had plans, appointments, and climbing to do, so, we hastily made the decision to pack up our stuff, throw it in the hut, and race out of the range with nothing more than a puffy jacket, headlamp and a few bars. Neither Colin or I had done the hike out before, and now we were doing it in near white out conditions. But what's the worst that could happen, we end up walking in circles on the glacier for a few hours? And so, we left our friends, raced towards the river, and the excitement that awaited us there.

Recall if you will my previous description of the nightmarish means by which one must "escape" the Tantalus Range. Our run from the range meant we must cross the gapping Squamish River via the feared 150 metre cable walk. Ok, I may be talking it up a little here, but it was pretty darn heart pounding nonetheless.

During our "run" from Tantalus, Colin descends heather slopes towards Lake Lovely Water. Sarah's photo.
And, here you go folks, the cable crossing. That's a person out there inching their way across. Sarah's photo.
Turns out, an hour or so after we made our own cut and run decision, Chris, Bruce, and Julie decided the same and made a race for the river themselves. In true Chris Christie style, Chris captured the whole cable crossing on go-pro. Enjoy....



4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hey there, great post! It sounds like you guys made the hike out pretty fast - could you let me know how long it took you? We are a group of ski mountaineers considering skiing/hiking out in mid-late april. Thank you!

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    1. Anthony, HI!

      If you're heading out in Spring, I suspect your time will be much faster, as summer conditions typically require some slow down climbing of a yuky gully system on the east side of the Serratus-Iona col. We've had such a big snow year, you'll probably ski that whole part. You'll probably want to confirm if the Lake will still be frozen, as again, that would take a bunch of time off. In summer, I'd have to say from the Habrel Hut to the Squamish River it's about 3 hrs.

      The Tantalus is truly a gem, have so much fun up there. Might see you too, planning a spring mission as well.

      Happiness.

      Sarah

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    2. Thank you so much for this information, this is great! Have an excellent summer and all the best in your adventures!

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