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 Peak(s):  Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
 Post Date:  04/13/2009
 Date Climbed:   04/10/2009
 Posted By:  RoanMtnMan

 Tabeguache North Face   

The weather forecast called for clear and relative calm from midnight Thursday to early afternoon Friday. Rumor had it that the Sawatch were looking about as good as they ever do for a ski descent. After shelving a number of objectives due to the tight weather window, we settled on a trip up Baldwin Gulch early Friday morning. The idea was that we could ski Antero if it looked in, or hop over the 12,800ft saddle on the east ridge of Cronin down into the Browns Creek drainage and ski Tabeguache.

Jcwhite and I met in Leadville a little before 4am and headed down to the TH. As predicted the skies were clear. The Baldwin Creek Rd was snow covered and frozen, much as it was 3 weeks prior when I skied Cronin. We unloaded jcwhite's sled and were on the trail by 5:15am. The road went by quickly with only one side hill that gave jcwhite a little resistance. We took a left across Baldwin Creek at the summer TH and then the snow turned more winterish. We managed to get the sled stuck 3 or 4 times in deep snow. After the 4th digout, we were both thinking one more sled issue and the skins were coming out. Digging out a sled is much harder work than one would think.

Luckily we backtracked a bit and chose a different sled route and picked up another mile or so without issue. We ditched the sled around treeline for skins, hit another small setback and then things started flowing nicely.

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We reached the saddle at 12,800ft on Cronin's east flank and got our first good looks at Antero and Tabeguache. Antero looked bare as a bone. The north side of Tabeguache looked better, but not ideal.

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A couple of lines did look like they may go from the summit, but it was hard to know for sure from our vantage point. We decided that we could likely piece one of the 3 or 4 "maybe" lines together and set off to do so.

We skied about 1,500 vertical down into the Browns Creek basin and traversed over to a gully on the far east side of the north face. We ascended most of the gully on skins though the snow was wind hammered in many sections making for some dicey skin work.

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At about 12,800ft we hoped up into a rocky ridge and began the boot pack.

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pic by jcwhite
At this point the weather was starting to move in, the sun came in and out, and snow flurried intermittently. A boot pack up the snowfield over the saddle with Shavano put us on the summit ridge for the last few hundred feet.

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pic by jcwhite

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Soon we were lounging on the summit. We took a break for food and water, which was hurried as we saw some more menacing weather moving in from the SW.

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Skis went on and off the summit we went.

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pic by jcwhite

We took a look at our 1st choice, the main couloir just east of the summit. From the top it looked much better. A few turns on snow to get in and then only a 30 foot billy-goat traverse of snowy rocks. The line was fairly steep but given what jcwhite has been up to this spring I was surprised to see that he even brought poles and buckled his boots.

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We skied the line in sections for 2,600 vertical feet of continuous turns on everything from windblown to recycled powder. Overall the snow was pretty good for a 14er.

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pic by jcwhite

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pic by jcwhite

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pic by jcwhite

We skied down to treeline and then traversed over as far as we could before transitioning back to skins. Now for the hard work. After a long day, the last thing you want to do is start climbing again, but this was what was required. We made good time across the basin and the followed the 4wd road back up to the saddle at 12,800. The last 1,000 vertical of skinning was a little grueling, but we made it up just before the weather. We traversed the ridge a few hundred feet looking for a viable place to ski back down into Baldwin Creek and the sled on tired legs.

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We found our line and were soon back to the sled for a very fast exit. We made it back to the truck without incident. Jcwhite managed to consume about 2,500 calories and 2 gallons of fluids during a gas station stop in Buena Vista and then back to Leadville.

A different approach to the route, but I think we agreed that it was more fun and less work than the Browns Creek option.

Ascent=red Descent=blue
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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (7)
killingcokes


Very Nice     2009-04-13 17:06:30
How many left Jordan


doumall


Conditions look pretty good     2009-04-13 17:14:22
Nice route guys.


Easy Rider


Nice Driving!     2009-04-13 17:25:12
Those sidehills seemed out of the question last year. Seems like a good alternative to Browns with the moto access. Browns is a bitch. Looks about right for conditions though.


USAKeller


Nice!     2009-04-14 10:45:52
Looks like a fun ski route and climb minus the skin back up afterwards! Nice report Caleb.


drex27

Good work     2009-04-15 10:01:45
Somebody got a new jacket. Caleb, I barely recognize you.


SchralpTheGnar


Another top notch TR     2009-04-17 10:45:03
I think KillingCokes is going to end up being #5 though, I think he just has Bierdstat left.


killingcokes


Huh     2009-04-21 09:39:24
I wish. I still have a long way to go



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