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The Kingdom Come Traverse

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

…Voices callin’, voices cryin’

Some are born and some are dyin’

It’s Alpha and Omega’s Kingdom Come

Tantalus rock climbing
Somewhere surfing on a never ending rock wave

Matt Gillespie and Brian Shannon just completed the Kingdom Come Traverse in the Tantalus (July 2023). This traverse was originally completed by Andrew Rennie about ten years ago, and is definitely worthy of more traffic. There is some info in Kevin McLane’s new Alpine Select, but we figured we should share some beta on this amazing link up of all the peaks around lake lovely water.

The linkup was done North to South, and included Alpha, Serratus, Lycia, Ionia, Pandareus, Red Tusk, Lydia, Niobe, Pelops, Iota, and Omega. For the most part, it is possible to stay true to the ridge crest, though occasional deviations to the glacier are necessary to bypass disconnected cols.

red tusk
Looking back towards Red Tusk, with Dione and Tantalus in the distance

We did the traverse over two days, starting at around 4:00am, and finishing just before midnight the following day. We had hoped to make it to the red tusk-lydia col on our first day, but ended up tucking in for a nice alpine bivy on the glacier below Pandareus. The first day involves the most amount of gain, but follows relatively well trafficked terrain. After leaving the Lycia-Serratus col, route-finding becomes more convoluted with little evidence of other parties.

The terrain is consistently fourth class, with cruxes getting close to 5.9. Route finding errors could definitely change the difficulty, and rock quality deteriorates quickly in places. The amount of 5th class, exposed rock terrain is extensive, and those not comfortable soloing the majority of the climbing would need to plan for a very long trip. We rappelled about 5 times, mostly to get across moats, but more could be needed depending on your comfort level down climbing. There is a surprisingly large amount of high-quality rock climbing throughout, varying from sharp ridge crests, to crack systems, to steep featured granite. It felt like we were climbing forever!

tantalus range
View of the ridge from Serratus. Left to Right: Red Tusk, Pandareus, Ionia, Lycia

The crux of the traverse was the less travelled area from Lycia-Lydia. Here the terrain is complex, loose at times, and the most technical. However, it was also the highlight of our trip; it was amazing to feel so remote while so close to Squamish, and to explore some less travelled terrain, often with spectacular climbing. After Lydia, the terrain is far easier, and goes by faster. The caveat being the decent down Omega – which consisted of 5th class alder downclimbing, wet mossy slab, and a hellish landscape of fuck-off cliffs, mosquitoes, and bogs (can you tell we were tired by this point...). While you could retrace the Omega descent and descend easily from the Omega-Iota col, we feel the adventure isn’t complete without a truly coastal descent down Omega’s north ridge.

All in all, we both agreed this was one of the more adventurous and aesthetic alpine traverses around, and one we won’t soon be forgetting!

tantalus range
Looking back from Omega. That’s a lot of ridge! Photobomb by a fly.

Gear Carried:

  • Lightweight mountain boots

  • One set of crampons

  • Ice axe each

  • Lightweight harness with some 'biners, slings and cord each

  • A small selection of nuts

  • One 60m tag line

  • Jet boil (water was harder to come by than anticipated)

  • Sleeping bag and air mattress each

  • Lots of food

Approximate distance 25km

Elevation gain ~4000m

Rough GPX track:

Download GPX • 21KB

kingdom come traverse


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