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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    231

    TR: Tantalus Mar 2019



    3 splitboarder buddies and I hired Justin Lamoureux for a 5 day custom ski mountaineering course. I first heard of Justin through his Backyard Project vids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAVyW-a_o-A. He's a former pro and olympic pipe rider turned splitboard guide who is apparently currently the only ACMG-certified full splitboard guide on the BC coast. We wanted to do all 5 days in the Tantalus range but due to logistical constraints ended up doing 3 in the Tantalus and 2 in the Blackcomb backcountry.

    The Tantalus is the beautiful and intimidating looking range that is the highlight of the drive south from Whistler and is featured in this Patagonia vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdJAM8L031A. It's a 5 min heli ride from Squamish that costs the same as a Whistler lift ticket, there's a beautiful hut to stay in, and every backcountry skier/rider I mention the place to says they want to go, but from what I can tell, not many do, and after visiting I know why. Besides the Serratus glacier, there is nothing mellow to ski there. Every line and approach is steep and committing, there are crevasses everywhere, and you are at the mercy of the weather unlike anywhere else I've toured.

    We arrived at the hut in crazy howling winds out of the north. I was sure that everything N-facing (basically everything we were hoping to ride) would be completely windfucked and that we'd be confined to the one mellow run or would be flying back out ASAP. The wind was so strong that when we tried to light the wood stove, wind coming down the chimney kept putting out the fire and smoking us out of the hut


    Not a bad view while doing the dishes (btw, i'm 95% sure that raven is a sticker - I'm not that lucky)


    None of us wanted to tour in hut stove-extinguishing winds, so we reviewed/learned some rope skills in the hut. Being a snowboarder first, a mountaineer only when I need to be, and not a climber, I find rope skills difficult to remember, so I quite liked the practice. Here I am learning the classic 2-man spooning style crevasse self-rescue technique


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Then we went a stone’s throw from the hut and practiced going up/down stuff and self-arresting with pointy things attached



    The sunsets from the hut are the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. As the sun started setting everyone got quiet and just snapped pics for about an hour straight as colors changed by the second to every hue between orange and purple. Pics don’t do it justice






    We woke the next day to discover the wind had died down so we decided to poke around. None of us were very hopeful about what we’d find and Justin had already started planning the possibility of flying out to find better snow elsewhere. But our mellow first lap down the Serratus glacier indicated the wind hadn’t done what we thought it had everywhere. The only explanation we could come up with was the col where the hut is acted as a wind tunnel and made it seem a lot worse at the hut than it was elsewhere.

    Looking up at our tracks on the Serratus glacier. Dione to the right of the col:


    Encouraged, we started heading back up to the col. Serratus Mtn is the highest peak in view:


    After some pit digging, snow science discussion, and lunch at the hut, we headed up the backside of Serratus for our first real line of the trip. That vertical looking wall of snow is called “the wave” and we would later climb it:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    231
    Our first peek into the line (Serratus shoulder):



    Justin on belay, getting ready to ski cut

    and the other end of the rope



    He turned a little less than we did






    We started skinning towards the Serratus N face when clouds started rolling in



    Not wanting to ride in flat light, we decided to do another quick cruiser lap then head back to the hut.



    Of course, it cleared up as soon as we got close enough to the hut to not want to turn around. Alpha on the left:



    Serratus:



    Did I mention I was a fan of the sunsets?




    Cypress and Vancouver visible on the left:



    We were all a bit worried/skeptical when Justin said his plan was to climb the Wave to access the Serratus N face, but this ended up actually being the highlight of my trip. I’ve ridden lines of comparable steepness before but I had never climbed anything like this. The only pic I managed to snap of the climb:



    Looking back at our bootpack later that day:



    The summit of Serratus. Snow above here was pretty windscoured so we didn’t bother summitting



    Looking down the N face:



    Our lines




    Heading back up for another lap




    More lines



    After a 3rd lap off the shoulder, we headed back to the hut to catch the next heli coming in and drop our costs



    Stoked and ready for a pickup



    The next 2 days in the Blackcomb backcountry were fun and very educational but the Tantalus was definitely the highlight. Overall the trip was everything we’d hoped for - learned a ton and got to climb and shred some amazing terrain in good snow. As a splitboarder, I can’t recommend Justin enough. I’ve been on a few guided trips with ski guides and they’ve all been great experiences but having a guide who had a snowboarder-centric view of the mountains was a huge plus. We also loved that he is an absolute ripper with freestyle roots. The Tantalus is a spectacular location that’s ridiculously close to home. If you can, go! I am going to do my best to make it an annual trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Montreal, Canada
    Posts
    1,012
    Way chill TR, thx for sharing!
    24 06

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Before
    Posts
    20,323
    well done
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    5,007
    Very nice.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    29,707
    Well done. Thanks for sharing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    SEA>DEN>Spokanistan
    Posts
    1,009
    Most excellent!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Paper St. Soap Co.
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    2,261

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    545
    Sick!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
    Posts
    2,701
    Those sunsets.

    TR was the tits.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Missoula, MT
    Posts
    19,935
    Wow. Maybe it's the angle of those photos, but that bootpack makes my sphincter clench!
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    231
    Thx all. Photo angle def makes it look steeper, but it was still pretty steep!

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