| Shavano-Tabeguache Double
Three of us left Colo Springs at 0415 heading for Mt Shavano. This was a first time on Shavano for two and the second for me, having done the mountain five years ago, but not having the time or energy at the time to add Tabeguache. COS was cloudy, but the clouds thinned as we crossed South Park and got closer to the trail head. Some foggy clouds remained when we started, but they burned away quickly and we were treated to a nearly perfect day for hiking.
The road to the main Mt Shavano trailhead was in good shape and about a half-dozen other cars were already there. We started up the trail at 0705 and made good early progress. The meadows along the Colorado Trail in the first quarter mile or so were very lush and green. We arrived at the trail split for a picture and started up Shavano's rather steep, rocky climb.
Shavano Trail Turn-Off The trail really isn't that much fun because of the rocks.
Rocky Trails They're not big enough to be solidly in the ground and not small enough to ignore, so you have to watch every step, worry about twisting an ankle, and it seemed like we were always slipping. The trail was dry, though, and otherwise in good shape. As we continued in the trees, we passed on hiker who was up from Albuquerque. He was taking it easy and we chatted for a couple of minutes.
By the time we'd arrived at the U-turn around the trail where you start west along the trees, all but a couple of low, ragged clouds had burned off and the sky was a beautiful, deep blue.
Southeasterly View from about 12,500'We began the long traverse to the west-southwest towards the Angel of Shavano and saddle between the mountains and were passed by a solo climber from Boulder of French origin. Gael arrived in Boulder six months ago and was already an avid and very strong climber of 14ers. We exchanged a few words in French and picked up the pace enough to keep up with him (I lived in Toulouse, France for two years earlier in my life). He's from near Avignon originally. When I stopped to take a couple of pictures, he waited and then stayed with us until we reached the saddle.
Gael Looking Towards Saddle
Looking to the Shavano Summit from Below Saddle
Approaching the Saddle
We passed another group of hikers about midway along the traverse--four ladies with a young back-pack equipped Lab. They were all trying to get the summit checked and then return to work in Crested Butte by 1600 the same day! We were now at almost exactly 13kft and it was 0905. We'd been hiking for two hours and making excellent progress.
Ladies & Lab Hiking Group
Along the traverse, the normal downslope winds kicked in but they were not very cold. The sun helped a lot. By now, I'd zipped off the bottoms of my pant legs and was disappointed that I'd brought so much clothing. The forecast had not been as nice as what we were seeing. The previous week, we'd done Mt Yale and just the opposite had occurred—we were frozen having encountered clouds, drizzle, and fog from about 11kft to 13kft and then some nasty winds and fog at the summit. Doesn't it seem that the mountains always seem to give you something different than what you're prepared for? Anyway, the winds picked up at the saddle, but I told my less experienced hiking partner that so many time you encounter winds at saddles and then it's dead calm at the summit.
Gael went ahead of us at the saddle as we waited for the third member of our group. He was hiking in new boots and it wasn't going well. The hike up the south ridge of Shavano went well, with the winds diminishing with each step. The trail gets muddled through here and there aren't many cairns. Still, the rocks were mostly solid as we transitioned from sandy, slidy conditions at the bottom of the ridge to rock and boulder hopping nearer the summit.
Ascending from the Saddle
We summitted at 1002 (2:57 ascent time) and met Gael at the top. We also got acquainted with two gentlemen from Dallas that were with another group of two that had already left for Tabeguache. Our new friends were not doing the double, having spent 5:30 ascending Shavano.
New Texas Friends
The AuthorOur third hiker joined up at the summit about 15 minutes later as did the four young ladies we met earlier.
Sawatch Range Looking North from Shavano
Buffalo Peaks and Pikes Peak
Crested Butte Friends
Tabeguache Seen from ShavanoThe weather was postcard-perfect and we all enjoyed taking pictures, naming peaks in the distance, rehydrating, eating a little, and just relaxing. San Luis Peak, in particular, to the South was beautiful, but you could also get a very clear view of Monarch Ski Area, the spine of the Sawatch Range, and a nice shot of Pikes Peak shrouded by low clouds below treeline.
San Luis Peak and Southern view from Shavano
We began the down-and-up to Tabeguache at about 1045. It was mostly boulder hopping down to the saddle with no consistent trail or path.
Descending Towards Shavano-Tabeguache SaddleThe are a few little rises along the way and no clear view of the saddle early on, so at a few points we would descent to far on the east side and have to reclimb a little to a more accessible route.
Shavano-Tab Saddle Handstand
Once we made it to the saddle, the winds picked up again, but that didn't stop my hiking partner from doing handstands.
Ascending TabeguacheWe tried to pick a good route up Tabeguache, but there was nothing that you could follow for more than about 20 or 30 meters, then you'd hop a few rocks, look for a worn path and continue in the new path. The occasional cairn, helped, but I think there are infinite routes up the mountain on the boulders. We would see other small groups and individuals descending on paths, too, but saw no clear way to shift to their route.
We made it to the summit in almost exactly 45 minutes from Shavano and again enjoyed calm, sunny conditions—and shared a "summit soda." The 4WD road up Antero was very clear and we could see vehicles parked at the top lot. The views were spectacular and, as yet, no threatening clouds were forming.
Shavano from Tabeguache
We left the summit little before noon and headed down the random boulders to the saddle and back up Shavano. We probably didn't touch the same boulder twice on our trips, just trying our best to find a manageable route. The return was just about as fast, but by the time we arrived at the Shavano summit again we all felt pretty toasted. We were not looking forward to the steep descent which we began a few minutes before 1300.
Fourteener Flora near Tabeguache Summit
Descending Shavano's Southern Ridge
Descent of Shavano Seen from South Saddle
The descent was generally uneventful. We met a woman hiking with her coyote-look-alike dog that was traveling at about the same pace down the mountain. Our younger hiking partner moved ahead of us and we gave him the keys to our car so he'd have access to the drinks. We came upon some female bighorns along the path below the saddle that were losing last winter's heavy coat in huge hunks of wool. They seemed unfazed by our presence, allowing me to take some very good photos of their "bad hair day."
Bad Hair (Wool) Day
Descending Through 12,500'We made good time after that point, but were very tired. We passed our lawyer friend from the morning who had summated Shavano, but not gone on for the double. He was relaxing in the shade for a few minutes at about 11kft.
We arrived at the parking area at 1520, almost exactly as planned only to find that our faster partner was not there. We had fears that he'd taken a wrong turn with the car keys and was now lost—this was only his second 14er. We yelled his name, asked our friend with the dog if she'd seen him (she hadn't), and started to plan how we would get into the car and back home. Five minutes later, though, he showed up, asking how it was possible that the "old guys" had beaten him down the mountain. He'd admitted to taking a "wrong turn" at one point but insisted that it had only cost him a few minutes. Once again, age and experience trumps youthful enthusiasm!
We met up with many of our fellow hikers in the parking lot soon after, including the entire Texas clan. I have to say that this was one of the most socially friendly hikes I've made—very few people on the mountain that day, but it seemed like we got to know them all. We each enjoyed a celebratory beer, changed shoes, packed up and left at about 1545.
Bottom Line: Shavano may be a Class 2 hike, but it's relatively large elevation gain, rocky trail, and average "steepness" make for a pretty tough day—with the rocky trail being the worst aspect of the climb. Adding Tabeguache—and only in good weather!—turns a solid hike/climb into a pretty serious, full-day affair. Still, the views, comradeship, and wildlife made this one of my favorite climbs.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):