| Tabeguache - Shavano (Brown‘s Lake)
My friends Dave and Cathy and I decided last year that we wanted to bag Tabeguache and Shavano and do it in connection with a backpacking trip. We decided on doing it from the north after a 6.2 mile backpack up the Brown's Creek trail. We were accompanied by friends Lou, Martha, Steve and Brent (all from Atlanta area and south Florida). The trail was great and ran parallel to Brown's Creek a great deal of the way. There was a lot of "up" interspersed with some level ground to give the old quads a rest. There was a beautiful waterfall about 2 miles up the trail and is only a couple hundred yards off the main path.
We were greeted by an afternoon thundershower and we set up camp at the west end of Brown's lake. There is a route going south from this location and it is depicted in Roach's book and classified as a Class 2. Interestingly enough, 14ers.com does not show this route.
After a good night's sleep, we started off before sun-up. We crossed Brown's Creek on a log bridge and started off in the general direction of Mt. Tabeguache. From the start there was no clear indication of a trail. We stated the climb almost immediately and the only indication that we were on the right course was the occasional cairn on the rocky floor.
After following cairns for about a mile, a trail appeared at a location with a very steep grade. Unfortunately, the trail was worse than scree and for every 2 steps forward there was one step back. The trail lasted for about 200 yards and then back on the rocky slope. The valley was a continuous steep climb on loose rock with a few patches of ice. We did see 4 large Mountain Goats who, by all accounts, ignored our presence.
It took about 3 hours to reach the saddle between Tabeguache and Shavano. We elected to do Tabeguache first. The walk up the ridge was easy and we reached the summit around 9:30. The weather was holding so we decided to head back to the saddle and head over to Shavano. It took me about 45 min to an hour to reach the top of Shavano after scrambling over and half mile of talus on the ridge.
The return trip turned out to be rougher than the climb. The steep descent, loose rock, and general rough terrain took its toll, however, we made it back to camp ahead of the rain and had a wonderful evening by the fire sharing stories about the climb.
I would not recommend this route to a newbe. It was strenuous and, in some areas, fairly dangerous. I am glad now we did it but in retrospect, I think I might have settled for the much more mundane climb up Antero from Brown's Lake. We went on to bag Princeton and Yale (# 16 & 17) and had a great week in and around Buena Vista.
Martha, Dave Cathy and Lou at Brown's Creek Trailhead.
Lou on Brown's Creek Trail.
Terrain ascending Tabeguache. Very little trail, some cairns.
Me, Martha, Steve & Lou on summit (Tabeguache).
Brown's Lake from Tabeguache. Route in valley on the right.
Me on Shavano.
Ridge descending Shavano (Lou can barely be seen on ridge)
Descent from Shavano to Brown's Lake (my buds can be seen still descending).
The waterfall on Brown's Creek was beautiful.
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