Peak(s):  Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  06/01/2012
Modified:  06/07/2012
Date Climbed:   05/28/2012
Author:  djkest
Additional Members:   Chaos Penumbra
 Take Nothing for Granted  

Peaks: Tabaguache Peak and Mt. Shavano (Shav/Tab)
Distance: ~8 miles Elevation gain: ~4800'
Route: from Jennings Creek (Closed) with traverse

(Images courtesy of Chaos Penumbra)

My Memorial Day suddenly freed up, and I jumped at the opporitunity to "jump start" my summer 14er season with another trip. I called up my friend Chaos Penumbra and it was on.
Unfortunately cold temps, excessive and constant wind, and constantly loose footing (poor route choice) made this trip pretty miserable on the way down. While we successfully summitted both mountains and made it down safe, it tested the limits of our psycological fortitude, and taught us a valuable lesson.

JUMP to my blog post HERE
The following info is not on the blog and details the "closed" route and the eroded section. Please see the final image for a map that will show you a better and less erosion-prone route to climb. In hindsight taking this route was a mistake- trails are closed for a reason and this one in particular for GOOD reason.

This is what the trailhead looks like from the road.

Another View of the trailhead area.

This part is important. The trail seems to lead left into a gentle valley (this is the way we should have gone). Instead we headed right and begin the torturously steep and loose climb out of treeline following the "old" route.

It's loose and eroded and very steep. This is the worst of it and the reason it was closed. I hadn't seen a picture of this area before.

You must climb over a mile through loose talus to reach that false summit over there. This part is also pretty exhausting, another reason why this route isn't the best.

On the way back up Tabaguache, I had a brilliant idea that we could skirt around the summit and avoid some of the reclimb. We ended up doing a sketchy class 3 section and gained the summit anyway. My advice to you is to just reclimb Tab all the way to the summit.

Do not take the red path through the eroded section. Instead, take the green path.
In short I would NOT recommend this route to anyone unless maybe they only needed Tabaguache Peak- and even then research the new way of doing it. It's eroded, exposed to wind, and very steep in some points, with many false summits and loose talus. The trail is impossible to follow at some points above treeline. Now that the standard route has been cleared, that would be my choice for hiking this route. The best part of our hike was the saddle between the 2 mountains.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Doctor No

Good report
06/01/2012 17:42
Is this route #3 (from the description)?

It seems like the valley approach (up the valley to the west of the ridge) to the saddle would be an easier approach.


06/01/2012 18:16
Yes, it is route #3.
Your right, that might be easier. When we looked down into the valley from the ridge, it seemed like it would be rather trivial to hike up the nice mild valley and then make a very short scramble to gain the Tabagauche/Carbonite Saddle, continuing on to Tabaguache summit. If anyone has tried that, I'd love to hear how it went. When the weather is bad, this route puts you up on a ridge high above treeline for over a mile of talus-hopping.

CO Native

Wrong way.
06/01/2012 18:31
”This part is important. The trail seems to lead left into a gentle valley. Instead head right and begin the torturously steep and loose climb out of treeline. ”

Is bad advice. Stay left and follow that trail to the end of the valley. Then gain the ridge on an old miners trail. Then take the ridge east to Tabeguache. The above described route crosses the area closed due to environmental damage. Please do not follow the route described in this report.


06/01/2012 18:32
Why climb a closed route? The route is nasty and peeps got in trouble descending into McCoy Gulch. It was closed with good reason.


In hindsight, a poor decision
06/01/2012 18:39
A week before we left the standard route had lots of downed trees across the trail and I saw reports saying it was very difficult to navigate the area. These trees were very recently removed. I also read numerous reports of people doing this route after it was closed and they seemed to like it OK. As far as the way we took, it did follow the old Jennings Creek route; we would have taken the left had we known, but I also didn't know what the conditions of that path were and where it lead.

You can find many reports of people climbing this route after it was closed, but how many of them say ”I don't recommend” in them?


Agree with CO Native
06/01/2012 20:52
I'll second CO Native's comments. I haven't done this particular route, but it just seems like Tab is much better from the east during the Shav-Tab combo.


06/01/2012 20:28
”It's like the incline, but loose and crappy with scattered dead trees.”

Those dead trees were likely put there intentionally to help curb the erosion and deter people from climbing on this closed trail.....


No reason to take this closed route
01/29/2013 02:46
As others have said, hike in the valley to the Carbonate/Tabeguache saddle. This is a very pleasant route as opposed to the route you chose.


The valley is better
06/01/2012 22:36
but still long and tough - lot of route finding and a huge expanse of talus at the end before the climb up to the ridge. It is tough in places from there to the summit as well - a lot of sidehill talus. But there is some really cool scrambling just before the summit that you will not get coming from the other side. I did this solo and freaked out coming down the talus about never being found if i had an accident! So i reconsidered and came down by the route you went up because i thought it would be shorter and more populated. Neither turned out to be the case. Made coming down Bross look pretty good! I did it this way beacause i had already been up Shav twice and it is looong that way. But from my experience Jennings Creek is a bad choice - especially the old ”official trail”. That is probably the worst erosion i have seen on a 14er trail and we should stay away - as someone said it is closed for a good reason and we should probably stay away.


06/02/2012 04:22
I climbed this route in 2002 before the closure... It was terrible and I'm glad they closed it. I remember almost hiking into McCoy Gulch by accident, but my hiking partner caught the mistake.

Bottom line, stay away from this route for many reasons!


take the valley!
06/04/2012 16:20
Just thought I'd chip in my two cents--the valley route to the carb/tab saddle (as described by Roach) is good--no reason to take the ridge described here, and MANY reasons not to. Not the least of which is that the Forest Service closed it for good reason.

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