Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

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VanMarmot
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Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 19th, 2011, 7:47 pm

Today’s alternative to not being confined to my cubicle was a hike up Table Mountain via its NW ridge.

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It was dead calm and fairly warm all day but the promised “sun breaks” seemed just that – an unfulfilled promise – as I took the Dick Thomas trail up past Carpenters Lake to the PCT.

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The view was still IFR as I continued NW on the PCT toward its crossing of the power line service road.

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Snow started to cover the trail at about the 2400’ level but it was never more than 3-12” deep – it had been beaten down and consolidated pretty well by the fierce rains that struck over the weekend. The old piece of logging equipment just before the road was nicely dusted with snow.

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Once I reached the service road, sunlight started piercing the gloom and I thought the clouds were dissipating.

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The route up Table’s NW ridge is part old road, part use trail – the NE-facing road part is shaded and was packed with snow which, while not deep, had to be negotiated while also winding in and out of various snow-clogged tree branches and shrubs.

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Once I got out on the NW ridge proper, it became obvious that the clouds hadn’t dissipated – I’d simply climbed through and above them. Silver Star was visible above a valley holding a cloud deck about 2000’ thick.

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The summit of Table beckoned,

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as did a con trail juxtaposed with a bush.

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Once on top of Table, I had a great view NW toward St. Helens, Birkenfeld, and South Birkenfeld,

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and N toward Adams, Greenleaf, and Rainier.

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Hood was clearly visible above a Gorge filled with clouds.

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I descended via the “new” Heartbreak Ridge trail, which was snow free from just below the summit all the way down to the PCT. At least on the S facing slopes of Table, the recent rains seem to have obliterated much of the considerable snow that was so evident only 2-3 weeks ago.

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I’m sorry, but putting a trail up the middle of a boulder field is just a bad idea. I’ve been up and down this “accident waiting to happen” in the winter (posthole ankle buster), in the summer (frying pan + ankle buster), and now with each loose, wobbly boulder outlined with its own patch of slippery snow (slip and fall + ankle buster). Going down this thing safely took longer than climbing the ridge.

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Fortunately, I escaped (once again) with my ankles intact and descended into the clouds for the hike back to the TH. By Carpenters Lake I was under the cloud deck and the gloom was back. But the time I got to spend on the summit in the sun more than made up for the clouds.

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IDratherbehiking
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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by IDratherbehiking » January 19th, 2011, 9:03 pm

Excellent work behind the camera today VanMarmot! Thanks for the report.

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Crusak
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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by Crusak » January 19th, 2011, 9:18 pm

Yes, very nice pictures. The trail seemed to have a wintry magical quality about it, the way your camera shots came out. And what luck with the peaks shining above the clouds!

That's another trail I have yet to tackle. At the beginning that hike looked very appealing, but that boulder-strewn section of the trail caused me to have some reservations, at least for now.
Jim's Hikes

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n.bumppo
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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by n.bumppo » January 19th, 2011, 9:41 pm

VanMarmot wrote: I’m sorry, but putting a trail up the middle of a boulder field is just a bad idea. I’ve been up and down this “accident waiting to happen” in the winter (posthole ankle buster), in the summer (frying pan + ankle buster), and now with each loose, wobbly boulder outlined with its own patch of slippery snow (slip and fall + ankle buster). Going down this thing safely took longer than climbing the ridge.
A very bad idea indeed!!! I really dislike that part of the trail. And to make matters worse, they make you go down the full length of the boulder field when they could have cut the trail off somewhere in the middle and traversed over to the east ridge.

I go up the west ridge and down the northwest ridge just to avoid that horrible obstacle.
Dave

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Bosterson
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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by Bosterson » January 20th, 2011, 12:38 am

Sweet trip report. Very lucky to actually be able to break through the cloud layer into clear skies!

I actually quite enjoy going up the talus field. The NW ridge then makes a much less knee-obliterating descent. I went down Heartbreak Ridge the first time I did Table and it's just no fun at all.

VanMarmot wrote: Image
Where on earth is this sign? It looks brand new!
Last edited by Bosterson on January 20th, 2011, 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 20th, 2011, 6:38 am

Bosterson wrote:Sweet trip report Very luck to actually be able to break through the cloud layer into clear skies!

I actually quite enjoy going up the talus field. The NW ridge then makes a much less knee-obliterating descent. I went down Heartbreak Ridge the first time I did Table and it's just no fun at all.

VanMarmot wrote: Image
Where on earth is this sign? It looks brand new!
I don't know when it was put in but it looks very new - as do a set of similar signs where the Heartbreak Ridge trail joins the trail running across the summit.

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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by BigBear » January 20th, 2011, 10:11 am

Other than the boulder field descent, looked like a great alternative to cubicle sitting at work. Nice pictures of the snowy hills in the sun.

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Re: Table Mountain (NW Ridge) 19-Jan-2011

Post by drm » January 21st, 2011, 6:03 am

This was the same day I went up Nick Eaton, and I never broke out of the clouds like that.

:? :cry:

I think the second cutoff is only 100 or 200 feet below the summit of Table. I guess it's a case where being 10 miles farther west made a different as well.

I don't mind hiking the boulder field much in summer, but it would be nasty if slippery with snow or ice.


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