Friday, June 1, 2012

Take Nothing for Granted- Mt. Shavano / Tabaguache

Peaks: Tabaguache Peak and Mt. Shavano

RT distance: ~8 miles Elevation gain: 4800'

Note: We took the closed Jennings Creek route up Tabaguache. Now that the standard route has been cleared of fallen trees, that is the route I would recommend. There is also a variation on the Jennings Creek route that avoids the eroded area.

Scott and Myself were planning on "getting to it" this year, hopefully climbing many 14ers before we even started last year (July 1st). After last weekend's trip up Mt. Princeton, we set our sights on another Sawatch Peak, this time Mt. Shavano and Mt. Tabaguache.  Memorial Day suddenly freed up, and so the date was set.  Of all the "combo" routes, this one is know as kind of a ball-buster (yielding only to Columbia/Harvard).  In a flash of "wisdom", I decided we needed to complete this combo from the now-closed Jenning's Creek Trailhead.  Jenning's Creek was closed 10 years ago due to severe erosion about midway through the hike.  "How bad could this erosion be?" I wondered. Seeing some positive trip reports from this route, I decided it was worth a shot.
[Special Thanks to Scott Lowery for providing pictures for the report. I misplaced my Nikon and didn't have a camera to take pictures with this time].

The small unmarked trailhead around 7:30 AM

The view across the valley at a 13er

Barren, eroded, windy, cold, dusty, must be our route!

A look back on the dead trees and chunky sand of the route

Mt. Shavano is just over my shoulder, Tabaguache Peak is not visible
 The hike started out in arm-scratching overgrown and downed trees, went through steeply eroded and slippery gravel, and then tops out of a high, grassy ridge above treeline. After slogging up the eroded section, the grassy ridge was a welcome sight! Unfortunately, our trip was far from over.

At the upper right you see False Summits #6,7, and 8. We are curently in the "world of talus"

 This shot says lot. The peak on the far upper right is just a series of false summits before the true summit of Tabaguache Peak. The route crosses just below the ridge far center.

Mt. Antero as seen from Tabaguache Peak. Much of the route is visible from here, and can be driven with a capable 4WD vehicle.

Rocky outcroppings and loose talus become the norm high on the ridge

Here we climb up to the ridge crest to avoid loose talus and dirt. We are almost done.

A short class 3/4 downclimb to leave the last false summit on finally good rock.

You can walk around the side on loose rock and dirt, or ascend directly on class 3 rock. Guess what we did?
Scott powers up solid rock to gain the summit

Scott tops out on Tabaguache Peak in the face of stiff winds

I celebrate on Tabaguache Peak, with the summit of Mt. Shavano right in front of me (a mile away). That is where we are going!
We attemped to rest and relax on Tabaguache Peak, staying low to avoid the worst of the wind. It was cold and our hydration systems had frozen up a little on the way up. I ate a "summit snickers" bar while we contemplated our next move. The next part invloved downclimbing and then climbing up to Mt. Shavano. It took us about 40 minutes to gain summit #2, which was about 1 mile away.
Looking SE from Shavno summit. Sangre De Cristo mountains distant right.

Scott and I on the summit of Mt. Shavano
 Again it was windy on Mt. Shavano. We met a nice Polish gentleman from Salida, and some other folks who were contemplating the crossover to "Tab". I think in all we saw 5-6 people on Mt. Shavano. We celebrated the 2nd summit with some Avery Ellies Brown Ale and Sour Cream and Cheddar potato chips.

And now the bad news- we must re-climb over 500' vertical on Tabaguache Peak to get back to the truck.
Take Nothing for Granted. Thank you to our military men and women who have given th greatest sacrifice: their very lives; in defense of this great nation.

Reclimbing the last false summit on the way down. I think this was the last time we had fun.
There is a neat little lake up the valley- maybe someday I will go check it out.
The trip down Tabaguache Peak was frankly miserable. Our feet were beat up from miles of talus-pounding, and the wind had risen to ferocious levels. The National Weather Service estimated 40 mph sustained winds with 60 mph gusts as we were plodding down the sustained ridge, which seemed to go on forever! The wind never really went away until we got below treeline, at which point it became very warm and dry. I was exhausted, had rocks in my boots, and couldn't wait to be done with this hike. This sacrifice was nothing compared to the pain and suffering that thousands of veterans have felt in combat. God Bless America.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Dan, your pictures are excellent! What an amazing view. I really like how you acknowledged our veterans.