Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

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VanMarmot
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Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by VanMarmot » December 3rd, 2010, 7:26 pm

Believing today’s forecast for clearing skies and an east wind in the Gorge, I decided on Table Mountain via the West Ridge Trail for both snow and views. The weather gave every sign of clearing nicely as I headed east on I-84. Starting at the Bonneville Hot Springs dirt lot, I’d gotten almost to Carpenters Lake when a herd of about 12 large elk crossed the trail ahead of me – pretty startling and in no mood to be photographed.

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The trail and road were largely free of snow until the crest of the ridge above the lake, but by the time I reached the PCT, the snow cover was complete (about 6” and firm), and clouds and mist were swirling through the forest,

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Just past the Heartbreak Ridge Trail junction, the sun started trying to break through again,

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and once I got up onto the lower rocky part of the West Ridge, the skies were mostly clear and I had a good view of Hamilton Mountain being enveloped in clouds,

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and of an almost cloud-free Hardy Ridge – if it had only been like this last Sunday!

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Unfortunately, there were clouds moving above me and these were busy engulfing the top of Table.

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The promised east wind had also kicked in and, while it was sunny, it wasn’t particularly warm on the ridge, what with the cool air temperature and wind chill. The snow on the ridge varied between firm enough to walk on, breakable crust, and serious posthole. I was following someone’s steps but they disappeared into the forest at the point where the ridge trail gets close to the edge of the ridge - I kept heading directly up the ridge and never saw any other tracks again. By the time I got to the top, my tracks were the only ones visible – but then not much of anything else was visible in the swirling clouds and mist.

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I had lunch on top, hoping to wait out a break in the clouds, but no luck. Of course, perversely, once I started down, the clouds parted(!). So I did get a nice view of Hood between bouts of clouds.

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After that, it was down the ridge, into the clouds, and back down the trail.

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And, as often happens to me, the clouds started to dissipate from Table as I passed Carpenters heading for the car.

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It would have been just a little better if there had been views from the top, but it was still a fun snow climb, with the wind and constantly moving clouds adding a little something extra to the day.
Last edited by VanMarmot on December 4th, 2010, 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Roy
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by Roy » December 3rd, 2010, 8:03 pm

OK I am extremely jealous I have Monday off the forecast looks lame love that Hood photo.

Those elk are jumpy but Nov 5th when my friend and I went to Cold Water peak we saw at least 100 of them and they were so mellow they just laid on the south facing slopes in the sun and ignored us . Maybe they know you can not hunt there?

Nice job again.


Tom
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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IDratherbehiking
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by IDratherbehiking » December 3rd, 2010, 8:10 pm

Thanks for the report VanMarmot! I really enjoyed the pics. It was a less eventful time at Tryon State Park on the Oregon side this evening, I didn't get the chance to see 12 head of elk run by LOL.

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Easyrider
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by Easyrider » January 2nd, 2011, 9:08 am

Great report VanMarmot and fabulous pictures! Table is on my "to do" list and I was wondering if you could still get up there considering all the snow we've been having.

I tried this hike last Summer when I was fatter and in not as good physical shape as I am now. After nearly a year of hiking several times a week I'm about ready to take Table on again. On my last attempt I ran out of time more than running out of steam. I did the traditional hike starting at the Dam trailhead that time. I'll be doing the shorter Aldrich route next time.

Wondering if anyone has a GPSr track.

http://easyrider.easyrider.com/table_mountain.htm
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from surviving bad judgment. ~Rita Mae Brown

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VanMarmot
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by VanMarmot » January 2nd, 2011, 2:35 pm

Easyrider wrote:Great report VanMarmot and fabulous pictures! Table is on my "to do" list and I was wondering if you could still get up there considering all the snow we've been having.

I tried this hike last Summer when I was fatter and in not as good physical shape as I am now. After nearly a year of hiking several times a week I'm about ready to take Table on again. On my last attempt I ran out of time more than running out of steam. I did the traditional hike starting at the Dam trailhead that time. I'll be doing the shorter Aldrich route next time.

Wondering if anyone has a GPSr track.

http://easyrider.easyrider.com/table_mountain.htm
Either Aldrich or Bonneville Hot Springs is the place to start. I'd say the snow on Table is just about right for an ascent - but then I prefer Table with snow on it, as it makes for more vivid scenery and keeps some of the loose rocks in place. Once in a while, there's even enough snow for a glissade or two. I'd recommend the W ridge route - once you get to the second kiosk on the PCT, turn right (N) and just follow the ridge. Also see the PH trail guide.

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Easyrider
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by Easyrider » January 2nd, 2011, 2:58 pm

I did the West ridge route last time and got very close to the summit before I ran out of time. Traversing the scree was VERY slow going plus the high wind gusts made the going difficult. I was thinking of taking Heartbreak Ridge next time just because I like variety.

I really only need a GPS track for the last mile or less. I'm very familiar with the areas up to and including the kiosks.

It's supposed to stay dry for a while so maybe I'll have another go at it this week.

The elk are definitely out! I've seen several really large ones at various locations over the past couple of weeks, including one along the Aldrich Butte ascent trail. They are just too fast to get pictures of :(

And the snow reveals interesting footprints. I've seen cougar, wolf, coyote... no bear tracks yet though.

You're probably in a lot better condition than I am, but how long did it take for you to do the up and back this time?
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from surviving bad judgment. ~Rita Mae Brown

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VanMarmot
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Re: Table Mtn / West Ridge 03-Dec-2010

Post by VanMarmot » January 2nd, 2011, 3:49 pm

Easyrider wrote:I did the West ridge route last time and got very close to the summit before I ran out of time. Traversing the scree was VERY slow going plus the high wind gusts made the going difficult. I was thinking of taking Heartbreak Ridge next time just because I like variety.

You're probably in a lot better condition than I am, but how long did it take for you to do the up and back this time?
I mentioned the W Ridge because the "new" re-located Heartbreak route is very difficult to follow when covered with snow. It ducks W and down from the Two Chiefs, then goes straight up the middle of a boulder field - postholing up steep boulders was no fun and I kept worrying about breaking an ankle. So, personally, I like the W ridge in the winter - plus it starts giving you views sooner than Heartbreak.

If I don't get too preoccupied with my camera, I typically take 6-7 hrs to do Table by the W ridge.

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