As August long weekend rolled in, we rolled out to Lake Lovely Water to spend a few days at the Alpine Club of Canada Tantalus Hut. The Tantalus Provincial Park is unlike anything I’ve traveled to before. The stunning Lake Lovely Water is circled by peaks screaming to be scrambled or climbed; if you’re not used to technical travel (beyond hiking), your options are a little limited. If you choose to book a few nights at the hut, you’ll have access to two canoes and two row boats, a well equipped kitchen, a wood stove, and loft for your sleeping headquarters. If you’re looking for a more backcountry experience, you’re welcome to set up at the campground next to the hut or on the sandspit beach, about 2kms to the south of the hut.
The hut is open for public use by reservation only and it’s locked otherwise. We had a group come up during our stay and they had no idea about the reservation system or associated cost to use the hut; they were not thrilled about camping along the lake. The cost for staying at the ACC hut is $15/person/night for members and $25/person/night for non-members. If you’re interested in booking a stay, you can contact Ron Royston (hut custodian) via phone or email: 604-921-8164 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On our second day at Lake Lovely Water, four of us set off to climb Omega Mountain, the most counter-clockwise of the peaks circling the lake. We ascended the SW ridge – the start of this route is also the standard Matt Gunn approach for Pelops and Niobe.
Google Earth & Elevation Profile
In the morning, we got a rowboat ride across the lake to the sandspit beach.
We picked up the trail behind the sandspit and scrambled the boulders along the creek up to Niobe Meadows. In the meadows, we noticed an insane amount of mosquitoes. No amount of bug spray deterred the bugs.
At the far end of the meadows, we picked up a rough trail and climbed the right side of a major glacier creek outflow. We followed some flagging across a small stream and onto a small moraine. We continued up the crest to a bluff section.
We scrambled up solid rock to Matt Gunn’s ‘grey buttress’, where we picked up a sandy ramp leading down to the glacier. There was no moat where the ramp met the glacier; we decided to play it safe and roped up for the crossing. Ice axe and crampons made climbing off the glacier manageable. In the past two years there has been a large moat growing at the far end of the glacier; we found a safe path off.
Once we got off the glacier and onto the rocks, we took off our glacier gear and packed it up. From here, we scrambled up a series of ramps to the Omega-Iota ridge.
We walked along the ridge to the base of Omega. We continued counter-clockwise (about 50m), along a heather slope with wild flowers, to a break in the vertical cliffs.
Our most confident climber ascended the steep gully first and dropped a hand line down for the rest of us. Some sections were still near vertical so the hand line was useful for someone like me – with minimal experience. We left this rope in place for a rappel on our way back down.
Once we cleared the first section, we crawled through a tunnel of stunted trees, climbed a steep heather slope, thrashed through another bush section, and scrambled up a steep notch. There was a faint trail bed and occasional flagging along the entire route. With the exposure, we had to be confident in our handholds.
At the top of the notch, we reached a small plateau. We turned right and continued up and over a small sub-summit; then on to the summit proper.
From the summit, we saw fantastic views of the Squamish valley to the north, Garibaldi/Atwell to the east, Lake Lovely Water below us, and the surrounding peaks. We saw a collection of tents in the Russian Army Camp across the valley – this was the BCMC summer mountaineering camp.
After an extended break on the summit, we retraced our steps and headed back. Scrambling down the steep notch was easy enough, we found enough foot and hand holds to get down without too much trouble. Back at the rope, the guys gave me a quick refresher on rappelling. After freaking out a few times, I successfully made it down my first ever rappel! – I don’t recommend a steep, exposed gully in the alpine for your first time.
We got back to the sandspit beach and radioed back to the cabin for a rowboat pick up. Back at the cabin, we indulged in steak, potatoes and wine to wrap up our day.
I started the day with my basal rate at 50%. My blood sugars were at bay throughout the day. Due to technical terrain and a long day ahead, I erred on the side of caution by keeping my blood sugars slightly high (8-10mmol) to make sure we got up and down the mountain without issues. I had my usual Shotbloks, Gu gels, and Powerbar chews, I also made myself a sandwich in the morning and ate it about 2/3rds of the way up.
My Animas Vibe pump and Dexcom CGM are a huge help in technical terrain. The continuous bg readings and ability to easily control insulin intake help keep my mind at ease when I need to focus on the environment and different types of terrain.
✓ 10+6 Essentials
✓ Glacier travel gear (harness, biners, ATC rappel device, rope, crampons, ice axe)
✓ 2L of water
✓ Day pack
✓ Hiking boots
✓ Warm layers
✓ Camera + tripod