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Ascent of Roan High Bluff on 2011-11-26

Climber: Tom Layton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, November 26, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Roan High Bluff
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6267 ft / 1910 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took advantage of unusually mild late-November weather to climb the three peaks on the SB6K list in the Roan Highlands. This involves an 11.6-mile round trip and is divided into two sections: 7.0 miles W of Carvers Gap to reach Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff, and 4.6 miles E of Carvers Gap to reach Grassy Ridge Bald.

Park at Carvers Gap on the TN/NC line. This is 12.5 miles on TN 143 from US19E in the town of Roan Mountain TN. Carvers Gap is also accessible from Bakersville/Spruce Pine NC via NC 261, but I prefer the TN approach, if for no other reason than gas in TN is 20c cheaper than in NC.

The road from Carvers Gap up to the famous rhododendron gardens is closed in winter, and I encountered only one other hiker on the Roan side.

From the parking lot at Carvers Gap, find an unmarked but obvious trail behind the latrine and follow it about 100 yards NW to reach the AT. Head southbound (actually more W at this point) and continue up a series of switchbacks, crossing the state line 8 times.

At 1.4 miles, find the blue-blazed spur trail on the L that leads up to the Roan shelter No. 1 and the summit outcropping at 1.5 miles. No views, but a nice setting. Sign the register in the shelter. Return to the AT and continue southbound.

At 2.4 miles (including the 0.2 side trip at Roan High Knob), reach Cloudland Mountain, where the AT crests at 6200 feet. At this point, leave the AT, cross the parking lot at Toll House Gap, and pick up the yellow-blazed Cloudland Trail.

At 2.6 miles, as you pass the visitor center at the rhododendron gardens on the L, there's a wooded knoll (topped by a concrete reservoir) on the R that rises to 6210 and probably should be considered the summit of Cloudland Mountain. In reality, there's little elevation change along the 2-mile plateau between Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff--Cloudland is a mountain in name only.

At 3.6 miles, the Cloudland Trail ends at a viewing deck atop the towering cliffs of Roan High Bluff. The cliffs are posted to protect nesting birds and careless hikers, but I think it is OK to go as far as the BM, which is about 50 feet NE of the deck on the second large outcropping.

I returned to my car for lunch and a latrine break before the second section, which is covered under my trip report for
Grassy Ridge Bald.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1255 ft / 381 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1255 ft / 382 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1055 ft / 321 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 755 ft / 230 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Loss on way in:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Route:AT southbound, Cloudland Trail
    Start Trailhead:Carvers Gap  5512 ft / 1680 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:955 ft / 291 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 755 ft / 230 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:AT southbound, Cloudland Trail
    End Trailhead:Carvers Gap  5512 ft / 1680 m
    Time:1 Hours 40 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Roan Highlands

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Roan High Knob2011-11-26 a 
2Cloudland Mountain2011-11-26 b 
3Roan High Bluff2011-11-26 c1255 ft / 383 m
4Round Bald2011-11-26 d 
5Jane Bald2011-11-26 e 
6Grassy Ridge Bald2011-11-26 f1248 ft / 380 m
Total Trip Gain: 2503 ft / 763 m    Total Trip Loss: 2503 ft / 763 m



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