Ascent of Table Mountain on 2015-08-16

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, August 16, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Table Mountain
    Elevation:10223 ft / 3115 m

Ascent Trip Report

Since I was driving west on I-90, I exited at the town of Whitehall, MT and took Route 2 west into the Highland Mountains, and after a bit I started looking for the left turn south towards Table Mountain. I realized I missed it entirely when I got to the outskirts of Butte, so I backtracked and saw the turn--completely unsigned, and it diverged at an acute angle, making it easy to miss when coming from the west. Also, my usually reliable Benchmark atlas indicated a non-existent tunnel on Route 2 that I was looking for as a landmark.

This road (apparently Roosevelt Road) was paved for a while, went under a railroad trestle, and then became a good dirt road running past rural houses, and then a still-excellent road once in the National Forest. A sign indicated a left turn to the Highlands Lookout in 5 miles, and then a mile later another sign said it was only 3 miles away on another left. Not quite adding up. . .

This road was rougher and led uphill, and I dumbly thought that the next turn to the Highland Lookout would also be signed, but it wasn't, so when the road started going downhill after a couple miles I turned around and in a field (just past a cattle guard when coming in) took the unsigned turnoff up a very rugged road. My poor car was getting pretty well jostled, so once the road got into the forest I stopped and parked at a particularly rocky and rough section, at 8100 feet. I started hiking at 10:30 AM, not quite an alpine start.

I hiked the road uphill, cutting off switchbacks occasionally on a broad power line swath that was like the center line of a dollar sign. The road reached an area of communication towers and took a sharp left, passed a parking area for 4x4 vehicles, and was then barred by a gate. I continued hiking on the switchbacked road, now above the trees, and again found paths to cut the switchbacks. The road bypassed the lookout tower behind it, and became a talus trail that climbed steeply but easily up to Red Mountain.

The rest of the hike was a lot of up and down--down Red, up and over impressive-looking Peak 10136, and then up Table Mountain itself. It was nice to be ridge-running in the Rockies, and the terrain was at worst class 2, with a path of sorts as far as the south side of Peak 10136. There was certainly a lot of loose talus, but the faint paths made it easier. I think it was easiest to go over the summits instead of sidehilling on loose junk. This was clearly an area that had been explored and mined quite a bit in the past.

Table Mountain itself was well-named indeed, a massive plateau with gentle grassy/talus sides. The high point appeared to be the large cairn near a solar-powered antenna of some sort. I didn't not find a register as I took a nice break and ate my lunch, between 1:30 and 2:05 PM.

Afterwards I cruised over to another 10,200' contour to the NE that also sported a cairn, but to my eye it clearly appeared lower and need not be visited to claim the peak, in my opinion. I contoured back to my ascent route and did the down-up-down-up back to Red Mountain, and then the long downhill on the road to my car, back by 4:45 PM.

Overall a nice hike and uneventful. The weather was stable, but the air quality was poor due to smoke from eastern Washington wildfires. I did not see a soul anywhere above the Highlands Lookout signs, but I did hear gunshots while hiking downhill, so there were probably hunters around. I did stop in at the fire lookout on my downhill hike, but it was boarded up and empty, despite recent tire tracks on the gated access road.

Hikers with high clearance or 4x4 vehicles can drive to almost 9000 feet, saving about 900 feet of vertical from my starting point.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:603 ft / 183 m
    Total Elevation Loss:603 ft / 183 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.4 mi / 2.3 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Hazy from smoke
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:603 ft / 183 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.9 km
    Route:NW Slopes
    Start Trailhead:10136-Table Col  9620 ft / 2932 m
    Time:3 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:603 ft / 183 m
    Distance:0.9 mi / 1.4 km
    Route:NW Slopes
    End Trailhead:10136-Table Col  9620 ft / 2932 m
    Time:2 Hours 40 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: 2015 - Table Mountain

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Red Mountain2015-08-16 a1970 ft / 600 m
2Peak 101362015-08-16 b476 ft / 145 m
3Table Mountain2015-08-16 c603 ft / 184 m
4Peak 101362015-08-16 d516 ft / 157 m
5Red Mountain2015-08-16 e410 ft / 125 m
Total Trip Gain: 3975 ft / 1211 m    Total Trip Loss: 3975 ft / 1211 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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