From the summit of Mt Shavano via Blank’s Gulch
Saturday June 18, 2005
I had reached the summit of Mt Shavano at 10:00AM; after meeting-up with some good people (Mark, Martin, & Josh) there, and resting nearly half an hour we were all now ready to pursue our second peak on this beautiful morning. The winds from earlier had totally subsided and the weather was clear and warming with snow capped peaks all-around.
We each had climbed-up through the forest and across the traverse from Blank’s Gulch and were now starting down through the rocks on our way to the saddle that runs between Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak. The trail was a bit thin and hopping from one rock to the next was the best way until we found the actual trail just to the right of the ridge. Hiking down and winding through the boulders we chatted as we went and commented on what an absolutely perfect day this was for “bagging” two peaks at once. The trail continued down until it exited the boulders as we were now on the lowest point of the saddle and the trail now levels-out a little bit.
Looking straight ahead and up the ascent to Tabeguache stood two large snow fields one of which went directly up to the summit ridge itself. We rested briefly and since I was leading we began hiking around the left side of the first snow field as we were climbing on rocks & boulders; it was a rather difficult go this way and we stopped several times to catch our breath. Climbing higher we finally got around the first snow field and paused again for another rest, and a long drink of water.
Since the weather seemed so warm and the sun so bright we were concerned about “post holing” and thus we avoided the snow all together on the first snow field. However, on the second snow field Josh took the lead and proceeded directly across the snow which supported us all very well. The hiking was now much less difficult and far less tiring as we made our way single file in a straight line heading right up to the summit ridge. Looking up and ahead near the top of the snow field was a large crest of snow, the contrast of the crystal deep blue skies and the gleaming white snow was amazing and gave the blue such a deep, dark shade………..simply an awesome sight to see.
As we neared the very top of the snow field we were able to climb in the same foot prints as others had and at the crest it was like climbing up a ladder as every step brought another foot of elevation, very steep here. We all cleared the crest and were now on the snow covered summit ridge heading for the summit directly ahead, the grade on the ridge was quite gradual and we were soon off the snow and on to the vacant rocky summit. It had taken 45 mins from Mt Shavano summit to the Tabeguache Peak summit.
The view from Tabeguache was spectacular……..many 14’ers can be seen from this vantage; Mts Antero, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, etc, etc, all with snow on their eastern sides, and countless peaks as far as I could see……..really beautiful. We all exchanged congrats all-around for our successes, took many photos, grabbed a bite to eat, a long drink, and I rested about 30 mins. The weather was now quite warm and I “peeled” down to a tee-shirt and applied plenty of sun screen. Another person soon arrived and looking back towards Shavano there were now many others beginning their ascent to the saddle between to two summits.
Mark and I started back down and bid our a dues to Martin & Josh as they were waiting for some other people to catch-up to them. When we reached the highest point on the snow crest Mark sat in the snow and showed me how to glissade; feet forward, gloved hands out to each side, and slide on your butt………..what a fun way to descend across this large snow field!! Not only is this fun it saves so many steps and saves so much time. We made quick work of both snow fields going back down to the saddle, and then the ascent back up to Mt Shavano as you must retrace your steps over Shavano to go back the way you came. I passed many people now going the opposite way as I climbed back to the summit; when I got there I didn’t stop and just kept going on down the ridge and back to the saddle above the traverse.
The wildflowers in this area were just wonderful and I stopped to take a few photos and remove my leggings as it was now getting quite warm. Mark and I had gotten separated climbing back up to Shavano and I was know proceeding across the saddle and making my way to another long trough of snow that runs parallel with the descending trail. This trough I would later find is called the Angel Couloirs and I glissaded down to nearly tree line before I exited and got back on the trail heading down. I could have glissaded further down but I wasn’t sure where it would take me.
I hiked back down through the forest and was glad to be in the shade as it was now very warm, I continued for a good long ways and crossed a creek where I stopped to cool-off a bit. I then kept going a ways farther and to my surprise I caught-up to Mark who had glissaded all the way down to the very bottom of the couloirs and knew his way back to the trail and thus passing me easily while exerting little effort. Well, I passed Mark yet again and proceeded on back to the trailhead at 2:12PM. My 10th & 11th 14’ers on a glorious Colorado day. Sweet!!