Alpha mountian is one of the 4 prominent peaks that makes up the Tantalus Range (Alpha, Serratus, Dione and Tantalus - East to West). While it is the smallest of the 4 peaks it does offer some very good beginner and intermetiate alpine rock routes. Keep in mind that there are glaciers all year around so for most of the routes and you will likely spend some time crossing them. Of all the routes on the mountain the East Ridge is the most popular (deservedly so) AD- 5.7 Having said that the enitre area does not see that much traffic due to the difficulties in crossing the river to get to the foot of the trail head. Even on a nice sunny day during the summer it is quite likely that you will have the entire route to yourself. This is pretty much guaranteed if you venture off to do any of the other less traveled routes on the mountian.
Probably the best info on the mountain can be found in, Alpine Select - Climbs in Southwest British Colmbia and Northern Washington, by Kevin McLane
Alpha is gained from Lake Lovely Water. Getting to Lake Lovely Water can prove to be a bit of an adventure as you are forced to cross the Squamish River. To get to the crossing go 10 km past Squamish (north) and then turn left (west) onto the Squamish Valley road (opposite the entrance to Alice Lake park. Follow this for 2 km until you see a small dirt road heading off towards the river. Go along this for 2 more km until you spot a cable car crossing for the Squamish River (elevated metal structure). Now comes the fun part - getting over the river. Here are a few suggestions:
- The cable car is usually locked. If it is not then you pull you and your gear over to the other side. Keep in mind that someone coming down the trail might head over to the other side and take the car with them!
- Canoe. If you have one you can get across this way. Might be best to bring a lock to keep desparate decenders from the lake from "borrowing" your canoe to get across the river themselves.
- Tyrolean. This is burly! Use a U lock bike lock or a carabiner you no longer like and monkey you way along. Attach your backpack to a separate biner and drag it behind you as it will not work if you keep it on your back (you will flip!).
- Fly - expensive but by far the easiest solution. They will chopper or float plane you in to the lake (well, onto if everything goes well). (contact the Squamish airport)
Access to the cable car is on Squamish Nation land. There are no issues at the moment but please be respectfull.
When To Climb
The best times to climb are from the Spring (May) to the Fall (October if you are lucky). The mountains see very little activity outside of these times. That is not to say that they are unclimbable but the weather on the Westcoast can get pretty ugly.
Camping is allowed anywhere (as far as I know). However, common sense should be practiced (keeping your toilet a safe distance from water sources (there is an outhouse near the cabin), taking your trash out with you, etc.). Lake Lovely Water is exactly that - lovely. It is a must that is stay that way.
There is a Alpine Club of Canada cabin at the lake. In order to use this you must contact the Alpine Club of Canada and make a reservation for $10 CAN.
There is a small hut in the area above the back of the lake - the Red Tit Hut. It is located in a col at 2050m between Serratus and Dione. By foot from the other side of the Squamish River it will take a good part of a day to get there (the upper section below the hut is mountaineering terrain).
The only people who would have a good idea of the conditions would be the Alpine Club of Canada as they maintain a the cabin at the lake.