A selection of well-travelled and less well known moderate alpine routes in the Tantalus Range above Lake Lovely Water
The Tantalus Range is a dramatic group of summits and glaciers that hang above the Squamish Valley and Howe Sound. As you drive the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, you get a head-on view of the aptly named Rumbling Glacier. One of the jewels of the range is Lake Lovely Water. Situated at the south end, it requires a demanding river crossing and 1200 meter ascent on foot to reach the lake.
Ten summits ring the lake with an amazing amount of high-quality alpine climbing to offer, especially if you’re willing to head off the beaten path. The most popular route (for good reason) is the East Ridge of Alpha. It’s a straight shot uphill from the lake to gain an aesthetic ridge that goes at mostly 4th class with a few short steps of roped climbing. This is a perfect intro route for climbers looking to enter the alpine world!
From the summit of Alpha, you look across the lake directly at the North Rib of Niobe. It’s a dramatic line that cuts down the north face of the peak. It’s a little further of a hike from the lake with a few complicated transitions between snow and rock, but once you gain the rib, it’s an excellent route. Most parties will go unroped for a good portion of the route, but you may find several stretches where you appreciate a belay!
The back of the lake is the true crown of the area, and Ionia Peak is a fantastic alpine climb that combines all the interesting components. It’s a complicated approach with a glacier crossing to reach the base of the NE Buttress, but once you establish yourself, you’ll find an awesome mix of scrambling on 4th class and beautiful pitched climbing. Most parties will use a rope for 6-10 pitches, and the descent is no gimme!
These routes represent a great progression in climbing and exploring the peaks around Lake Lovely Water.