| In the Shadows of Tabergauche and Antero
Brown's Lake Base Camp.
This is our first trip report... so be constructive. (Any falsehoods, poor grammer, or boring details are distinclty the fault of the author and not his beloved fiance .)
On a Sunday afternoon, the fiance (Kristina) and I hiked in with two of our three dogs (Francesca and Ayer) to spend a few days in the shadows of Tabergauche and Antero (not to mention the multitudes of 13ers surrounding the basin).
The goal was really just to get away from the rest of the world for a few days and bag some peaks. (Coming in on a Sunday evening and leaving on a Wednesday... mission accomplished, almost no one was there).
I had a secondary goal of finding a backside route up Tabergauche. This mission wasn't accomplished, but I think I have what a need to make a successful attempt on the second go-around.
So, all-in-all, it was a great few days, with some things that went well and some things that didn't. But, that's climbing.
As an overview:
Day one was a 6.6 mi pack into base camp, from about 9,000ft to about 11,200 (in red). Day two was Antero via White (in blue). Day three was up onto the shoulder of Cronin (in green). The yellow route was the route I was looking for up Tabergauche.
The hike in was a gentle ascent of just over 2,000ft, following the Brown's Creek trail.
There are some falls at about the 3 mi mark that are definitely worth seeing.
The dogs were doing well in the heat of the day.; we started in around noon.
About ready to break tree line, we saw the first views of the peaks that would surround us for the next few days, and eventually our home (across a meadow and beside a roaring... yes, roaring... creek).
After we made camp and as evening set in, Kristina caught this image of sunset. Not a bad way to be sent off to sleep.
The next morning, we were up before the moon was down, and ready to take climb number one: starting on the south ridge route of Antero, meandering eastward to bag Mount White, and then back to finish Antero.
Morning of first climb
Antero south ridge
White west slopes
All the climbs started in a westward direction, following a four wheel drive trail, where you could then pick a ridge or gully to start your climb in almost any direction. The road allows you to gain altitude pretty quickly.
Turning north by northeast from the road, we climbed into the saddle between Antero and White by taking a high line above the smallest (and loosest) scree.
Scree climb into the saddle
After climbing out of the gully, you open to an expansive saddle, allowing you to pick your line to White. You see Mount White to the left, here. We will actually move to the left of White's summit, to its more gentle northwest side, as the western slope is loose and steep.
Pick your line
Off to our left (White to our right), we get our first glimpse of the Antero summit. You can see the route we will take up the four wheel drive road to the ridge line, then taking the south ridge to the summit.
First look at Antero summit
After making that - I hesitate to call it a traverse - to the northwest face of White's summit, both Kristina and I make the final push up scree to the top. We're feeling good, and happy that our day isn't even half done, yet.
Kristina - White's summit
Jason - White's summit
On the descent, we actually move further north, where there is less scree, and descend back into the saddle between White and Antero. Francesca, as usual, is leading the way.
Descent into the saddle
We make the easy climb up the road to the shoulder of Antero, from where we get our first good look of the south ridge.
Antero's south ridge
As you can see from this picture of our trip back down, the ridge is easily passible... and offered our best wind-break of the day.
South ridge - heading back down
After the ridge walk, it was time for the final pitch up Antero. As you can see in the foreground, it was a very well-defined trail.
Antero - final pitch
On the summit, we had some happy dogs... if starting to get a bit tired. For Ayer, this was his 13th summit of a 14er; Francesca's 12th.
Ayer - atop Antero
Francesca - atop Antero
After an uneventful descent - it was back to our tent by the creek. Plenty of daylight left, and time to do some cooking.
(Oh, and just an aside: the MSR gravity filter is one of the best pieces of equipment I own. You can get so much more done when you aren't busy pumping water.)
The next morning, the sun was up but the dogs were not.
Sunrise - the meadow at camp
After two days of hiking/climbing, the two beasties did little but sleep. In fact, Francesca almost never left the tent. We decided it was probably not good to drag them up another mountain, but we didn't want to leave them in camp alone, either. So, we decided to take two seperate hikes. I was packed and ready to go, so I took the morning hike. Kristina would take her turn upon my return.
So, again I took the road out of camp, heading west.
I told Kristina I was planning on taking the route to the saddle of Taberguache (see the yellow route in this report's first image). I wasn't certain that the route would be passible. Three things bothered me:
1) the willows
2) the amount of water we had in the creek - that I'd have to cross
3) the steepness of the final pitch up into the saddle.
So, I just wanted to explore the route and see what I could see. Here's a view of the basin I'd be heading into and the saddle I hoped to climb - as seen from near the saddle between Antero and White, the day before.
The basin and the saddle of Taberguache
What I found was that I couldn't find a route through the willows that also led me to any portion of the creek I could cross. So, I kept on the road, hoping to get high enough to see a route. At this point, I had resigned my self to the fact that I wouldn't be making it into that saddle, today... but maybe I could find a route for next time.
The road eventually took me almost due north, facing Mount Cronin, and heading in almost the exact opposite direction I had been hoping to go. Below is a veiw of Cronin, with the basin and Taberguach saddle directly behind me.
The red dot is where I stopped on a traverse of Cronin's final summit. After getting that high, and still not seeing a good route into the basin at the foot of Taberguache, I thought about making a bid for Cronin's summit. After beginning up the final ridge line, I found the scree and steep pitch to be getting more and more dangerous; so I began a traverse to see if I couldn't find the saddle behind Cronin. After more than a quarter mile, I still hadn't reached the saddle on the other side. In fact, I was less than half way there. Being alone - and not on the route I told Kristina I would be on - I decided to reverse and head back down.
Only on the way down did I finally get my glimpse of the possible "entrance" to the basin. You can see it cross the creek after the couple tens of yards through the short meadow. You then climb a short ridge through the break in the willows (you can just bearly see that break). Before you know it, you find yourself above the willows, following the top of their line through the basin and towards the saddle. I went down to investigate.
The route did look good. But I couldn't get across the creek - rushing at about 10-12 ft wide and 2 ft deep. There are a number of fallen and splintered trees in the area, and maybe a bridge will be in the works for the next trip. By this time, however, I didn't want to hold up Kristina's afternoon hike any longer for the sake of a couple hundred more yards. I wasn't going to reach that saddle today, anyway.
Getting back into camp around 1:30, Kristina headed out. She was a lot less OCD about pictures than I was - just enjoying the day and the great weather that would allow an afternoon hike above 13,000 ft. She did snap this picture of herself on the way up Cronin before she stopped and came back down (for many of the same reasons I did).
Kristina - heading up Cronin
So, with Taberguache "closed" and the dogs dead tired, we called it a trip and headed back out the next morning. We had already witnessed a sunset to end all sunsets... the setting of a sliver of moon... weather beyond belief... a morning call from the sun beckoning us into the altitude... isolation in a ring of mountains... and the joy of each other's company. The mountains gave us one more gift as our send-off: we awoke and packed camp to find ourselves above the clouds, if only for a short time.
Above the clouds
We headed straight towards the clouds, making incredible time (for us, carrying camp packs): the 6.6 mi out-hike in about two and a half hours, feeling strong and rejuvinated from our experience.
Not everything went right, but certainly every experience in the mountains is a rich one.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):