Mount Tantalus - North Ridge, August 2020
Fast forward 11 years since my previous attempt and off for the mighty Tantalus we go again, this time with Agata the Alpinista and via the classic SE Spur. Excellent snowpack and cool spring meant conditions for early August were about as good as they get, and we reached the base of the rock without much fussing with moats or 'schrunds for that matter. From there, our guide Andrew (Zenith Mountain Guides) led us on the "upper" variation of the SE Spur. With dizzying exposure pretty much the entire time, this is easily one of the more complex routes I have been on. Not particularly technical, but a challenging route-finding adventure with a notorious reputation for...um...interesting situations.
The rock features a bit of everything with some exciting traversing to reach the notch at top of Heart of Darkness Coulior, and again across a ledge below Witches Tooth. A short down-climb into another crappy gully and then up the 5.6 "crux" crack pitch to another notch, which we crossed over and traversed once more into a small cave. Up out of the cave for a steep pitch to the classic knife edge arete and the highlight of the route. Finally, some easier scrambling along ledges and broken terrain led to the summit. Put succinctly, up and right, up and right (and repeat) was the theme of the day. Note that Alpine Select is woefully outdated and there are now bolted stations at all the key raps/belays. In total we did two raps on our way up, 5 raps on return from the summit block, another 3 raps down the gully to Dione Glacier and about as many belayed and/or simul pitches. A 7pm heli pickup completed a very enjoyable ~12 hr day. Big thanks to Andrew and Zenith for making it all possible. Highly recommended if considering a Tantalus climb or anything else for that matter!
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