Alpha Mountain - NW Ridge

Another Tantalus range classic is the NW ridge of Alpha Mountain.  Often overlooked as the East and West face routes of the mountain get most of the attention.  This route is much longer, more challenging and involved than the 2 more popular routes.  With climbing never harder than low fifth, this route is packed with challenging route finding, interesting descent, and difficult anchors.  A worthy challenge for budding new alpinists.


Single rack with alpine runners

50 or 60-meter rope

Crampons/ Ice axe


1:  From the bottom of the Serratus glacier start working up the ridge, if possible a lot of the ridge is able to be bypassed by walking on the East side of the ridge on snow.

2: Once on the ridge stick more or less on the ridge with the odd opportunity to bypass the steeper section on the west or east side.

3: At about 1/3 height you will encounter the first knife-edge ridge section. Work across this exposed section to a more broad ridge section staying on top of the ridge.  From this ridge down climbing 15m to a notch. (Hard to find a belay anchor on top)

4: From the notch continue making short pitches along the ridge or bypassing section on the face.  This will lead to easier terrain below the big gendarme.

5: Bypass the gendarme on the west side. Several options exist, all of which are not too hard but riddled with loose rock.  Work your way up to a slung horn at the ridge top.

6: Rappel from the slung horn into the notch, which depending on snow conditions could be an easy pitch or some scrambling to access better rock.

7: Work up this feature and around to the east below the upper false summit face.

8: Climb pitches straight up looking out for the path of least resistance.  Challenging to find good anchors.

9: Near the top either climb left or right around a steep headwall. Both lead to the false summit.

10: From the false summit either climb around to the summit notch on the west side about 20 feet below the false summit or rappel of a fixed nut belay from the summit into the notch.  From here either move west on a ledge to the west face proper and to the summit.  Alternatively, climb steep pitches from the notch to the summit proper.


alpha topo
Climbing the upper pitches to the false summit
Climbing the upper pitches to the false summit
Down climbing to the first notch after knife edge ridge.
Down climbing to the first notch after knife edge ridge.
Flat ridge after knife edge, down climbing into notch.
Flat ridge after knife edge, down climbing into notch.
Rappelling off of the false summit
Rappelling off of the false summit

About Ross Berg

Ross has guided, climbed and skied in the European Alps for the last several seasons. When he's at home he can be found working as a heli ski guide in winters and climbing alpine rock routes in summer.