Zenith Mountain

July 22, 2018


Squamish / Squamish Valley, BC

Zenith Mountain is a rugged rocky fortress a couple kilometers north-east of Mt. Tantalus and because of that close proximity to the famous neighbour, this little peak does not offer much attraction to anyone but the exploratory peak-baggers. Traditionally the peak is pretty much bypassed right at its base when approaching Mt. Tantalus from Zenith Lake. Nowadays the north ridge of Mt. Tantalus is either approached on foot via Sigurd Trail or by helicopters, so even fewer people would bother with Zenith Mountain. However, this peak offers some of the best views of the east face of Mt. Tantalus and Rambling Glacier and the easiest route goes at “class 3” via the south side. The plan among Alex, Ben, Matthew and myself was to bag all the peaks in northern Tantalus Range in the same grab, and earlier in the trip we had already climbed Mt. Tantalus. And this is the morning of Day 2.

Zenith Mountain from Pelion/Zenith col.

Matthew decided to sleep in and reserve his energy for Pelion and Ossa so it was only Alex, Ben and myself heading up Zenith Mountain. The peak looked so close to our camp that I decided to carry no backpack and wear trail-runners. This turned out to be a great call although the scrambling was harder than expected. I did bring a lightweight jacket and threw it in Ben’s backpack. Thanks, Ben… The initial stretch was hiking on some large snow patches with very gentle incline. The snow surface had already softened upon lightened up by the morning sun beams so even if the slope’s steeper the trail-runners could still bite. En route we passed two lovely tarns.

Waking up with Rambling Glacier on fire

Mt. Tantalus on full glow. Life isn’t getting better than this… .

Alex taking in the morning views

Pelion Mountain on alpenglow

This is Alpha Mountain on alpenglow

Hiking up Zenith Mtn. now passing the first tarn

The second tarn has some really cool photography oppourtunity

A little bit higher up on the slopes we opted to cross several steeper snow slopes and then squeezed through a moat before traversing onto some narrow and loose ledges. We spotted a rusty-coloured line of rock that quickly turned into 4th class with very questionable holds. It was not good so we gingerly traversed more exposed 3rd class terrain further out to the east. Route-finding wasn’t easy but we did manage to keep the rest of this ascent “reasonable”. The summit was also farther away than expected and the upper SE Ridge also involved some exposed scrambling. The views, however, were just as splendid as expected with Mt. Tantalus stealing the show.

Alex finding a way in a moat. It’s quite interesting here

Ben just finishing his moat squeezing

Hiking up onto some ledges now. Mt. Tantalus behind

Me searching for a way up. Photo by Alex R.

Another view of Mt. Tantalus

We found a rusty-looking strip of red rocks. Bad decision. Very loose

Alex continuing up our line on some unnecessary 4th class terrain

Ben traversing an exposed ledge. Note the red (very loose) rocks

Finally onto SE Ridge now. There’s still some exposed scrambling left

Summit Panorama of Zenith Mountain. Click to view large size.

Pelion Mountain will be our next objective

Ben approaching the summit with Zenith Lake behind

Squamish River is now two vertical kilometers down

Alpha Mountain

Serratus Mountain

A zoomed-in shot of Mt. Tantalus, our previous objective

This is looking towards some random peaks in Sunshine Coast area

A close-up view of Rambling Glacier and the crevasses

Mt. Tantalus on full glory

Me on the summit of Zenith Mountain. Photo by Alex R.

Because none of us brought much in terms of food, water or gears we had to immediately start descending. Instead of retracing our rusty-iron looking choss we went farther down the SE Ridge. The ridge wasn’t easy and involved a few very exposed 3rd class moves and the rocks were generally speaking, not trustworthy. At one point we bailed into the south side slopes and slowly worked our way down the loose 3rd class terrain and eventually reached the snow fields lower down. The rest of the hike back to camp was lazy and scenic.

We opted to down-scramble the SE Ridge. Zenith Lake behind

Fast forward. Down to the snow fields now

Looking back at the south side of our objective

I stopped at these tarns for more photos on the return hike

Just another lovely tarn with Pelion Mountain behind

Without doing too much of lingering we packed the camp, and the trip continues with ascents of Pelion Mountain and Ossa Mountain. In terms of the peak we just did I would actually recommend to check it out if you do happen to be in the area and have extra time to kill. It’s more than what you would expect.