Of all the glorious mountains the surround Whistler, The Table has got to be one of the most unique.
Approaching the Table in a helicopter with Pacific Ski Air, circa 1970. Photo: Cliff Jennings.
This curious flat-topped mountain near Garibaldi Lake was formed when a volcanic eruption burst up through a massive glacier, roughly 10-15,000 years ago. The fast-melting ice kept the lava flow contained on the sides and forced it to cool off and solidify quickly, while the pull of gravity caused the nearly perfect flat top.
Scientists have been able to date it to quite recently since there are no signs of glacial erosion along the sides or base. This indicates that the initial eruption and formation occurred after the great Holocene ice sheets were in retreat, but obviously before they were completely gone, roughly 10-12,000 years ago.
In geological terms, a flat-topped volcano formed through this spectacular interaction between fire and ice is called a tuya. These are extremely rare, being found in Antarctica, Iceland, Siberia, Coastal BC, the Oregon Cascades, and not much else.
As seen from Panorama Ridge during the 1939 George Bury ski expedition.
The Table sits within the midst of a highly active and scenic volcanic setting, with the Black Tusk, Cinder Cone, Mount Price, Mount Garibaldi, The Barrier, and several other nearby volcanic features. As a whole this area is called the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, which is considered to mark the northern terminus of the Cascade Volcanoes that follow the Pacific Coast down to northern California.
First climbed by BC Mountaineering Club member Tom Fyles in 1916, The Table’s steep, rotten flanks repel all but the boldest climbers. It is rarely repeated, and prospective climbers are strongly dissuaded from attempting.
The Table’s distinct flat top can be seen silhouetted in front of Mount Garibaldi.
No, there are no known ski descents. Maybe a local BASE jumper or speed-flyer would like to give it a shot? After all you need to get on top is shoot a rock video.
With such a rare and distinct shape, it’s not surprising that this mountain has made a few appearances in pop culture. The Table served as the world’s most over-sized and epic stage for Canadian rockers Glass Tiger in their 1986 video “I Will Be There.” Make sure to keep watching for the incredible guitar solo on the Table’s edge.
Also, in the sci-fi film Stargate: The Ark of Truth, The Table was used as some sort of underground spaceship base/hangar. We’re not really sure because we haven’t actually watched the film.
Jump ahead to 47:30 for a few more shots of a wild man from the future (past?) trekking around Garibaldi PArk. Presumably the giant flat zone is where The Table used to be.