| Quick Double Dash up Shavano and Tabeguache
After having been rained out of climbing these two peaks last year (got to treeline and found myself with about 20 ft of visibility) I decided to tackle it again this year.
I drove up the Forest Service road the previous evening, watching a thunderstorm in my review mirror and rabbits hopping across the road in front of me, I parked in a pull-off near the trailhead and quickly went to sleep in the back of my car at about 9:30 PM.
I didn't sleep much, but woke up at 3AM to start hiking by 3:15 AM. One definitely does not need to start this early, but I was determined to summit both peaks early so that I would miss any weather that was in the area. The last few days had "unsettled" weather around with lots of rain and thunderstorms and I didn't want to have to turn back again.
A nice hike through the woods - only lost my way after crossing the stream the second time because a downed tree across the trail as it turned left in the dark made me think that the trail kept going straight. Shouldn't be a problem in the daylight!
After about an hour and a half or so I passed treeline and it was just getting light enough to turn off the headlamp. There were a few thin clouds around but nothing I was worried about. Unfortunately clouds in the eastern sky blocked most of the sunlight so I failed to get any good alpineglow pictures, but I did get a few moments of sunshine! On the saddle below Shavano the wind really kicked up and was quite cold in the early morning. I was glad to have brought my gloves as my fingers were starting to go numb.
Picking my way up the final steep part of the trail, I summited Shavano at 6:30 AM. I quickly scanned the western sky to look for storms approaching and I definitely saw a dark raincloud in the distance, but no lightning. The wind and movement of the clouds above me made me think that it was heading this way, so I decided to go nab Tabeguache as fast as possible so that I didn't get stuck on the exposed ridge between the two. I quickly left the summit and made my way down the ridge to the saddle fairly quickly, made easier by the solid rock on this part of the ridge. Went up the ridge to Tabeguache, following just to the right of the small snowfield. The rock is looser here, and made for more problems on the way down than up. I summited Tab just at 7, grabbed a quick look at the storm seemed to be hold its distance, and headed back to Shavano.
I had planned to cut across the face of Shavano back to the saddle such that I wouldn't have to climb up and down the peak again, but looking at it from Tab the rock looked extremely loose and steep, and I didn't feel like dealing with that if it started to get slick with rain. So, I reluctantly started back up to Shavano from the Shavano/Tab saddle. Just below the top of Shavano I met two ladies who were just starting the Shavano/Tab traverse and they were the first people I had seen all morning! I wished them luck but the rain cloud that I spied earlier seemed to be dissipating as the sun rose more so I hope they didn't run into any storms. By 7:45 I was back on the top of Shavano, met a handful of other early starters and began my uneventful descent back to the trailhead. At 10:30 I was back at the TH, enjoying the lovely aspen groves that I had missed in the dark, and by noon I was in Leadville eating pizza!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):