Tabeguache North Face Ski Descent 6.2.10
Crew: Matt Kamper, Wes Martin, Ben Conners
Route: Ascent of Tabeguache via Mt Shavano, summit ski descent of Tab's North Face, exit via Brown`s Creek to car shuttle
Stats: 12 miles RT, 5293` climbed, 2550` skied, 10 hours
In terms of access and interesting ski routes, Tabeguache Peak is somewhat limited. Basically the only interesting line from a skier's perspective is the North Face, which also happens to be the most difficult side of the peak to access. This lack of access is what makes Tab's North Face a relatively rare ski descent, but for those willing to put up with some punishment, the line is well worth it. During a phone conversation earlier in the week Matt and I discussed our options for an attack on the North Face, none of which involved numbers smaller than 10 miles and 5,000' vert. After a lot of deliberation, we arrived at an acceptable decision. The plan was somewhat elegant; an ascent via Shavano from the standard TH, followed by a North Face ski using Brown's Creek as the exit. The one downside (besides the vert and distance) was that this plan would require a vehicle shuttle, but it seemed worth it for a chance to ski a rare line. Also joining us on this quest for pain was Wes (skier25 on 14ers.com) whom I picked up on my way out of town. After meeting up with Matt and stashing a vehicle at the Brown's Creek TH, the three of us motored to Blank Gulch and began hiking at 4:45am. Trail shoes were the only way to go on this one, we'd end up hiking all of Shavano with skis and boots on our backs. The hike to the summit was nothing but one foot in front of the other so I'll skip describing that part...
Matt and Wes, and the Angel of Shavano:
Once on top of Shavano, we were rewarded with a motivating view; Tab had snow off the summit, so the summit ski was in. Now all we had to do was get over there.
Tab from Shavano's summit:
We made our way across the connecting ridge...
...took a short break at the saddle to put on ski boots...
...and gained Tab's summit ridge:
A look down the North Face ski route had us in good spirits:
We hung out for a bit on the summit and then geared up for the ski.
A few turns down the ridge on bullet proof snow had us to the entrance of the ski line. A bit of billygoating was required to get into the couloir from the summit ridge.
The entrance fee:
Once through the billygoating section we had two thousand feet of June corn turns to cash in on. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...
Below treeline there was more skiing to be had:
When the snow ended, we took a long break and enjoyed the beauty of spring time in the Rockies:
We tried to push the 6 mile, 2000' deproach out of our minds at this point. A short bushwack had us at the Brown's Creek trail, the views of our ski line were impressive.
We skied the continuous couloir down the center of the face:
Starting the long hike out:
A 3 hour slog had us back at the vehicle and the cooler full of beer we stashed in the trunk. After the drive back around to Blank Gulch, we said goodbye to Matt and motored back up 285 to Denver, another great ski descent under our belts. Thanks for reading.