Posts Tagged ‘North Table Mountain’

It was a warm afternoon, but a few clouds kept temperatures reasonable as Gary and I hiked up to North Table Mountain’s Golden Cliffs. He had a route in mind and led us around to the west side of the basalt cliffs to rack up above the Coors Brewery.

It takes me longer to type the route name “Shut Down, Plugged Up, and Cold to Boot” than it took Gary to lead it.

He lowered off the chains and I cleaned the route before we moved further north to the 5.8 classic “Bush Loves Detroit”. Another group was just starting up so I took my time organizing the rack and taping my hands. Having watched the earlier leader layback the upper crack and struggle a bit I was mentally prepared for a bit of a fight. Thankfully, the crack was “perfect hands” for me and I found solid jams and good rests without resorting to a single layback. Gary didn’t have quite the same luck with the #1 C4-sized crack as he cleaned the route.

For his next turn to lead, Gary chose the route just called “Unknown G” in the latest guide. After moving through some blocky terrain with kitty litter, he hit a dirty and short but perfect pair of hand cracks leading to the flat summit. I found the cracks to be a blast and wished they were twice as long. The route could also use more frequent ascents to clean up, I was certainly glad I’d taped up earlier.

The sun was setting but we had enough time to squeeze out one more climb before dark. Starting back towards the parking lot I parked us below “Fast Boat to China”, another classic 5.8 pitch and required two starts on the slick bottom section. Higher up I took a second to notice the colorful sunset before reaching the anchors. Gary cleaned the route then we packed up and started hiking out thinking we were real adventurers for climbing until dark. Much to our egos’ chagrin we found 3 other groups still climbing while we returned to the cars.


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Wild North Table

Work over for the day I felt driven to use up the remaining daylight with a hike. North Table Mountain won out since the trails were likely to be dry and I could start the hike from my front door. A few blocks later I was starting up the initial switchbacks when something went zipping by my ear. I looked back and a young boy waved from the shadows of his backyard deck. Continuing ahead I again found myself the recipient of small arms fire. It may have only been a BB gun, but I wasn’t in the mood to run in a zig-zag pattern or belly crawl to cover. Dredging up my most adult voice I yelled “If that gun goes off again I’m calling the cops.” A meek “okay” was all the response I heard, but at least the coast was clear now.

After walking along the western flanks of the mesa, I intersected the well traveled trail and access road to top out on the plateau. Walking past the old quarry I spotted several grazing deer.

The deer weren’t much of a surprise, I’d seen a herd of nearly 40 up here once. Continuing to the southeast I dropped down near the climbing walls and passed a few climbers. Following the trail toward the parking lot I noticed a dog chasing a coyote off the trail. The dog stopped and joined me in watching its more wild brethren sneak off.

From the parking lot I circled back around to the west side and repeated a portion of my earlier walk, while staying well above the young sniper’s home.

Reaching another trailhead to the north I finally left the park grounds and connected a few streets and urban trails to circle back home.

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The clouds have been gathering, but Gary and I really want to get out climbing so we hike up to North Table Mountain’s Golden Cliffs and watch the weather for a bit. A few rain drops, a couple bursts of thunder, then all seems to have calmed down. Gary gears up for the trad line Natural Fact (5.7).

I split my eyes between Gary’s lead and the weather. Both of us are wishing we’d gone to Eldo or Boulder Canyon where the skies seem clearer.

Since I should be rock climbing this weekend, I let Gary select another lead after following Natural Fact. He jumps on the sport route next door – Pack O’ Bobs (5.7).

The crux moves are hard for trad climbers like us – requiring balance and finger strength. Not wanting to commit to the moves, Gary lowers and I manage to finish the climb. Gary then offers me the next lead, and I find some shade in the route War with a Rack (5.8).

Wow, this climb is fun and worth more than the single star the guide book grants it. While technically a harder climb than Pack O’ Bobs, the climbing style suits Gary and I better and we both have a big grin after finishing it.

Smiling, we pack up and head down the trail as lightening flashes in the distance and drive off as rain starts to pelt the windshields. I’m extra happy since War with a Rack was my first trad 5.8 at Golden Cliffs that I haven’t taken a lead fall on.

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Gary decided to come down to Golden this time and we figured we could find a bit of shade on the south side of North Table Mountain (Golden Cliffs). A warm hike up from the parking lot took us to the popular Brown Cloud Crags, where there was only one other group. Gary offered me the first lead and I decided on the route Axis of Weasels (5.7).

After cleaning the route we both top roped the neighboring sport climb, Brown Cloud Arete (5.10a). I’ll admit to having trouble with the starting moves.

By now the rock around Killian’s Dead (5.6) was in the shade so Gary took the rack for his first trad lead in a couple months.

I decided I should lead the next route to the right, John Adams’ Adams Apple (5.7) and found a perfect tricam placement at the start to protect the opening moves. Excellent hand jams higher up had me enjoying this pitch more than the more “classic” Killian’s Dead.

I convinced Gary to take another lead and pushed him towards Thick Crust (5.7) – it’s actually more fun than it looks, I assured him (pigeon crap was decorating some of the holds). Gary powered through, cleaning out some cobwebs in his lead head and reached the top to belay me up. The sun was starting to set and I’d had a pretty full few days so we didn’t try to cram in another climb.

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Jenn, Jeremy, Erick and I took advantage of the warm and sunny Sunday weather and headed up to the shadeless rock at Golden Cliffs (North Table Mountain). Erick and I had never met before but teamed up and found that we were climbing at a similar level. We decided to start on the route “Bimbo in Limbo” which at 5.10a is harder than either one of us really wanted for a warm-up. Erick backed off the climb after the first bolt, but I decided to give it a try. Mostly climbing the crack to the right (the route “Abortion Control”) and reaching out to clip the bolts, I eventually moved onto the face and was pretty pumped by the time I clipped the bolts and lowered off.

After following the route, Erick found a 5.9 around the corner (Crowbar Cowboy), which had a fun roof that’s bypassed by some huge jug holds on the right.

After following the route we headed back to the Winterfest wall and found “Dweeb” to be in the sun. The direct start variation (also 5.9+) looked like fun, so I took another turn leading. After cleaning the quickdraws while being lowered, Erick led the route as well.

Borrowing Erick’s trad rack my next lead became “Hand Crack”, a 5.8 whose name I took to literally and tried to hand and foot jam much more than I should and took a short fall onto a cam. After finishing the route, Eric followed it and made a crazy layback of that crux portion – something he said he wouldn’t have done on lead.

While Erick was cleaning the anchors, I wandered over to find Jenn and Jeremy working on a pair of sport routes – “The Perfect Ten” (5.10a) and “Not” (5.10b). They offered the use of their top rope after they’d each taken a lap, so I rested up while the clouds finally moved in and the air began to cool.

Erick and I each did a quick lap on the two routes (now finally warmed up for 5.10 routes) and then we hiked out to call it a day.

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A warm and sunny day combined with a Friday off sent Pete and I to Golden Cliffs. For being right outside my door, I hardly ever climb there. We hiked up the access trail to the Overhang area. For a warm up we started on the 5.7 route “Toast & Jam”. I found the finish to be a tad stouter than I’d expected but soon reached the anchors and belayed Pete up.

Pete didn’t have much experience cleaning sport routes, so generally I’d set myself up with a hanging belay at the top so we could review anchor cleaning and then rappel. We followed the same pattern on our next route, Umph, a 5.6 with a few chimney moves.

From there we moved east to the Brown Cloud Crags and I decided to try a local classic, Big Dihedral, a 5.8 rated corner crack.

I cruised through the first half of the route feeling good, but above the small overhang I had trouble putting together the moves and when my feet slipped off marginal holds I ended up taking my first leader fall. Pete and a large #3 cam caught me in the air. After resting a bit I climbed back up, added a stopper just above the cam, then with some hurried and ugly climbing sketched my way past the crux moves to the anchor bolts. Pete decided not to attempt this one, so I pulled up the rope, rigged it for a rappel and cleaned my own gear on the way down.

After that we decided to step down a notch and do Big Dihedral’s neighbor – Thick Crust, another 5.7. The climbing felt like some of the easiest of the day and after Pete followed we walked off instead of dealing with the short rappel.

With a few routes behind us, we decided to continue Pete’s climbing education and talk about equalizing trad gear for anchors. Working around the base of the cliffs, we found a few spots to build 2 and 3 piece anchors and demonstrate ways of tying them together.

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North Table Mountain is a major landmark for the Golden area and another summit I can see on a daily basis. I’ve done a little rock climbing on its flanks, but have never made the jaunt to the actual top.

I cashed in a warm, sunny January afternoon with a trip to the top starting from my “trailhead doorway”, like Mt Galbraith two weeks ago.

The trails were still a little muddy due to the six inches of snow from five days ago, but it wasn’t bad. The hike to the top only took about 40 minutes from my doorstep.

To the north I could easily pick out Boulder’s Flatirons, which always look much closer than the drive ends up being. After a brief snack on the summit I took a slightly different way back across the plateau, following a line of artsy two-legged rock cairns.

I spooked a large herd of deer on the plateau but otherwise had the summit to myself. I picked my way back through the broken cliffs and down to the base just as the sun dipped behind the front range foothills.

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