Table Mountain Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||john strand on Jul 17, 2010|
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Bear Notch Road is usually open from early-mid May to late Oct-early Nov. it is closed in winter.
At the end of May 2021 we were up there and noted the cord(s) of several of the top tree anchors were cut through, either by animals with teeth or human with knife. (Some cuts were very straight, others fuzzy like chewed) This included: the “back up rope” for the top Bugs Eat Frogs rap, the cord at the top of Red Knight’s Romp ( the new, bright green cord placed by someone other than the FA-ers, which implies the cord and quick link placed by the FA-ers had been removed or cut..?! ) and one of the cords at the maple tree island at the top of P1 of Holy Grail. CHECK YOUR ANCHOR CORD before trusting it.
Pleasant climbing on a 200 - 300 ft south facing slab about 45-50 min. hike; nice rock, most (if not all) old 1/4" bolts have been replaced, and hardly anyone ever goes there, even on crowded weekends. Most climbs are reasonably well protected at their cruxes and "run out" portions are usually 2 to 4 grades below the climb's crux rating. A single rope ( 70m best) is all you need for most climbs and raps.
The best approach to the base is to hike up the well-maintained hiking trail and rap in. Anchors (dbl 3/8 or 5/16th inch bolts) are "set" on four lines. (3 on Main Slab). Your last rap sets up a top-rope on some of the best climbing. (Regardless of which of the rap options you decide to use!) this site lists several new routes that do not appear in the 2021 Handren, guidebook. ENJOY!
Once at the base, you will find the immediate 3-4 ft from the cliff to the trees quite easy walking, especially from Picnic Table to near Merlin. From Merlin west to the start of "False Holy Smoke" there is a bit of a slab-scramble down, usually using pine branches for an "assist", although there are other ways to make this move. From "False Holy Smoke" to the end of the slab the walking is again easy.
Should you get caught in a sudden downpour, probably the EASIEST, MOST PROTECTED WAY UP (and out) is to climb P1 (5.4-5.5) of False Holy Smoke, and then P2 of Old Smokey's Return. This gets you to the upper Merlin Rap station, where a climber's path leads up and right, returning you back to the "Bugs" rap station and the hiking trail.
In a true emergency it is possible to hike out in the tree-and-bush filled gully about 120 +/- ft right of "Bugs Eat Frogs". Look for a cairn at the base, and take care with loose stones that may tumble, but there is nothing technical in the ascent. The top section is described in the approach to Arthur’s Arete and Caldor Crack, and there’s a photo showing the general path.
HISTORY- Probably the first climb on the slab was put in by Paul Ross and Julia Blake in the summer of 1976. They bushwhacked directly in from the Kanc with difficulty locating the slab. (Uhg !!!). Paul named the* route they did that day "Dragon Fly" for the insect, of which there were many flitting around, while he (essentially) soloed on lead (no bolts for THAT Brit!). He "graded it 5.7" (That's "old school" 5.7 !) on "the best looking bit of the slab...to the top of the slab...and might have been [in the area of] Knights (in White Satin) or Holy Grail".
** The fact that Paul did six (6) new climbs on Rainbow on one day, while only doing this one on Table, kind of gives you a clue as to the bushwhacking and logistics they encountered coming in from the Kanc!
(Italic quotes from a personal e-mail communication (July 2015) from Paul after he had consulted his "FA notes".)
The new (2022) Handren "North Conway" Guidebook covers this this cliff quite well.
The climb that Ed Webster, and the old (2012) Handren guide named "Holy Smoke" has been re-named "False Holy Smoke". [See more on this in the COMMENTs, if you're interested.] The real "Holy Smoke" (FA by the "two Dougs") included what would later be climbed as P1 of Table Scraps and the last pitch of Picnic Table.
Although visible easily from the "Kanc" Highway (esp. traveling eastbound below Bear Notch rd)), unequivocally the best approach is to hike in via the Attitash trail off the east side of Bear Notch Road (BNR), about a 45-60min. hike. From North Conway, drive north on Rt16 to Glen, then straight ahead on Rt 302 to Bartlett. (Or take West Side Road from No. Conway to 302) In Bartlett, turn left (south) up the Bear Notch Road, drive about 2 1/4 miles to a pull out on the left, just before a sharp turn. More recently the hike up Table has been "discovered" by hikers and there is now a possibility you may find the small lot full. One can park on level ground on the opposite side of the road just downhill of the trailhead parking, or at a paved pull out about 1/4 mile towards Bartlet.
With a rope, gear and some water-and-lunch I find the hike up about 50 minutes from Bear Notch. That's for me, younger climbers have reported as fast as 20-25 min! ( about 2 miles and 1300 vertical feet) A very pleasant hike, with a lovely stream & pool, hardwood forest and nice views on the final 1/3 of the hike. The trail goes over a few slabs with open views to the West and South, but you know you have come to the correct slab when the view opens up to the East and can see Albany Covered Bridge [see photo]; I usually "gear up here" [it's nice and flat and sunny] and then go back down the hiking trail about 25 ft to the climber's path (cairn, now on your left). Down this steeply 50 yds or so to the "Bugs Eat Frogs" rap tree (15" diameter pine with fixed rap station), or from this rap tree walk about 75 yds West and down to a double bolt fixed anchor that drops down to Merlin's P1 belay/rap station. (more on this below)
Rap Descents: [corrected/edited June 2016] See the photo "Rap Lines and Paths", below.
#1 The "upper Merlin" rap, single 60m rope, 2 raps: NOTE: While a 70m is recommended, it is possible to make these raps with a 60m rope. [Originally this rap was listed as requiring a 70m rope. It turns out my "70m rope" had shrunk 8-9 meters and I didn't know it. That being said, let's hope your 60m hasn't shrunk. ]
The top station for this rap line can be reached by a 'path' that starts a few feet above the "Bugs" Rap-tree. This path leads West 75-100ft, down 40 ft, then over another 50 ft and down 50 ft to the station, a double 3/8" SS bolts.
Make a single-rope (100 ft/30m) rap to the Merlin P1 belay/rap station [toss the ropes straight down and to viewer's left of the shrubby tree on the ledge 30 ft below.] Then another 30 meter (100 ft) rap to the ground (swinging to rappeller's right to land).
The Merlin belay now consists of two 3/8" SS bolts and chains, plus one of the original 1/4" bolts. THE FLAKE ABOVE AND TO THE LEFT IS HOLLOW.
Another belay about 30 ft West (rapeller's left) of the Merlin belay is a dbl bolt 3/8" ss on the route "False Holy Smoke", but the rap to the ground is more than 35m.
#2 "Bugs Eat Frogs" Two Rope Rap, 2 raps: From the tree at the end of the climber's approach path, rap with 2 ropes 150 ft to the "Bugs" bolted belay. Then rap 80 ft to the ground.
#3 "Dick to the Rescue/Table Talk" single 60m rope rap, 3 raps": Starting from the same top "Bugs" rap-tree, it is also possible to rap about 60ft to a small pine tree on rapeller's right (viewer's left) to a 3/8" bolt backed up by the tree. From here make a 90ft rap to the dbl bolt anchor on Dick to the Rescue/Table Talk, then a 3rd rap 100 ft to the base. If doing Rap#3, on the first rap toss your ropes to the LEFT of the small pine tree that is 15-20ft below the big, new rap tree.
Note- due severe undercutting of the original tree, the rap for #2 and #3 has been moved uphill to a new tree that looks more firmly attached to the landscape.
#4 "King Arthur's Arete" - Three (3) single rope raps with a 60m.
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