Located at the north end of the Tantalus Range, Pelion Mountain is a moderately technical summit. Together with its close neighbour, Ossa Mountain, they comprise the northern bastion of the Tantalus Range. Although the Sigurd Creek Trail approaches within 2km of the peak, its rough condition, a one-way distance of ~10km and 2200m elevation gain contributes to keeping the numbers down. Pelion Mountain is normally climbed today from Sigurd Creek Trail. The trail makes the climb a few notches less demanding than what a climb of Mount Tantalus used to be, before aircraft support lowered the standard to what it is today. However, the original flavour of the early climbs can still be obtained by following the first ascent route from Zenith Lake. This approach adds a river crossing by canoe, bushwhack through 4000ft of jungle and timber to Zenith Lake and a long approach from Zenith-Tantalus col to the SW ridge. This three-day climb is probably not contemplated much these days except by masochists and young offenders serving punishment.
Pelion Mountain is surrounded extensively by snow and ice but where the rock does outcrop, the rock is generally hard and well-jointed. An exception may be the bottom section of the indistinct W rib, which is more slabby and sparsely-jointed. From the S, the mountain exposes steeply-tilted shear zones, almost vertical, along a SW-NE ridgeline which are fracturing into jagged subpeaks, probably all unclimbed. The W rib of Pelion is the highest of these features, over 200m high but undercutting along its shear zone has contributed to steeply-slanted, smooth slabs and ledges. The subpeaks offer rewards for first ascent routes if one can be distracted from the dominant peaks.
Pelion Mountain is often climbed on skis by its north glacier or NW ridge. A difficult step at 6800ft can be avoided by heading up to the 7000ft notch at the head of the glacier E of the indistinct NW ridge and deeking around a rock tower on its south side to regain the upper icefield through another notch. The steepness and overall length of the ~4000ft run down the north glacier arguably makes it the best alpine ski descent in the Tantalus Range.
Parties traversing the Tantalus Range from N to S would normally climb Pelion's NW ridge from Sigurd Creek, cross to the S side through the 7000ft col, 500m NE of the summit and traverse SW across steep S slopes to gain the ridgeline heading SE towards Zenith-Tantalus col. Crossing the NE ridge lower down and further E than the 7000ft col presents an intervening cleaver blocking progress almost all the way to the bottom of Mawby Creek. A variant used to approach Zenith Mountain from Sigurd Creek was worked out by Klaus Haring. It crosses the NE ridge at 5700ft, 1.75km due NE of Pelion Mountain, descending to ~4800ft in Mawby Creek to get around the cleaver, climbing through the open basin 1.5km SE of Pelion and gaining the head of Mawby Creek at 5650ft. The mountain photo shows the distinct cleaver feature on the righthand side of the shot.
Name Notes: Pelion, like most of the peaks in the Tantalus range was named according to a Greek god theme. "The Pelion" is the name of a small peninsula in Greece, just northeast of Volos, which has a very different terrain and climate from the surrounding region, being lush and very rugged. It was by legend one of the last holdouts of the race of centaurs in the Archaic era, and was where Herakles (Hercules) was tutored by the wise centaur Chiron, who was known for his learning.