Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
PT 13,712  -  13,712 feet
"Esprit Point"  -  13,630 feet
Date Posted:  05/06/2020
Modified:  05/09/2020
Date Climbed:   03/15/2020
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 Winter Shavano/Tabeguache and extra credit  

The last week of the winter climbing season was here, and my buddy and I wanted to end BIG. Thanks to some awesome climbing partners, Ben (Supranihilest), Keyton (Giant hills) and Annie, my winter had already gone way beyond my expectations with snowflakes on 14 different 14ers. A couple more here on Shavano and Tabeguache would be the icing on the cake.

Day: March 15th, 2020

Peaks: Mt Shavano, Tabeguache Peak, "Espirit Point", Pt. 13712

Trailhead: Angel of Shavano Campground

Route: Angel of Shavano

Mileage/Verticle gain: 15.07 miles and 6730 vertical feet gained

I picked up Keyton late the night before our climb, and we arrived at the Angel of Shavano Campground around midnight. We had first attempted to get to the standard trailhead at Blanks Gulch but access was blocked by a wall of snow 3.1 miles away. Instead, we opted to start from the campground. We knew the road was clear, and the approach to Blanks Gulch (Shavano/Tabeguache trailhead) would be an easy 2 mile hike along a trenched out Colorado Trail. The alarms were set and we quickly settled in for a couple hours of truck sleep. We didn't sleep long and were on the trail by 3:30 am. There was a trench with a solid boot pack all the way to the standard Blanks Gulch trailhead, and we made good time using our headlamps to see. From there we continued northeast until coming to junction a short time later. Here, we made a 90 degree turn and headed northwest on the Mt Shavano trail. Up until now there had been very little climbing. Now we were getting down to business as trail quickly got steep and much less tracked out. After knee deep postholing, one too many times, we strapped into our snowshoes and continued up heartbreak hill. Soon thereafter, we came to the split, with the Mt Shavano trail turning to the north and zig zagging up the ridge. We continued straight towards the Angel of Shavano with the trail becoming much more difficult to discern. Using GPS we weaved our way through the mess of trees and popped out in a clearing just below the Angel.

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First sight of the Angel and it looked good
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Approaching the Angel

We continued upward on hard packed snow excited that the conditions seemed perfect.

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Just before beginning the snow climb up the Angel, we contemplated putting on crampons. However, we decided to stay in snowshoes as they were working well.

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The snow in the Angel was ideal and we quickly moved up the body at a quick pace. We then took the north arm as it seemed the shortest distance to the summit. It appeared the south arm went all the way to the saddle and would be a good ski for those interested.

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Looking down from the top of the north arm

At about 13,200 feet we exited the Angel where the snow ended. We removed our snowshoes and continued towards the summit on mostly dry terrain. Near the summit, we joined the standard trail and climbed the final boulders to top out on Mt Shavano.

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Nearing summit
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Summit or thereabouts
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Not much to see here

This was probably the easiest snowflake of the season, but I wasn't complaining. It had been a thrill to climb the Angel of Shavano after hearing so much about it over the last several years. Unfortunately, the views were obscured by a low cloud cover allowing us to just barely see Mt Antero to the north. After a snack and a quick break, we continued down the ridge towards our next objective, Tabeguache Peak.

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Heading towards the saddle with Tabeguache

It was an easy boulder hop down the ridge. Any snow we encountered was avoidable. Luckily, as we descended, the cloud cover slowly lifted and Tabeguache Peak revealed itself. It definitely appeared to have more snow than Shavano, but still didn't seem too bad.

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First glimpse of Tabeguache Peak
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The last bump before the big descent to saddle
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Looking up Tabeguache from saddle and picking our line

It didn't take long to reach the snowy Shavano-Tabeguache saddle. The rock-hopping had been tedious but didn't take long. Since the snow was still solid, we dropped our snowshoes and continued in boots up the face avoiding rock bands by staying in the snow gullies. We slowly meandered to the east ridge of Tabeguache and found a great snow climb to the summit.

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False summit
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Almost there
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Oh that view!
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Mt Antero and Mt White
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Looking back at Shavano

The icing never tasted so good! Snowflake numbers 15 and 16 for this winter climbing season were in the bag, and it was time for some extra credit. It was still early and the weather was great, so why not! We headed east back down Tabeguache towards Jones Ridge and the unnamed bicentennial Pt 13712.

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Descending Tabeguache
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From Tabeguache looking at Pt 13712 and Jones Peak

First, we descended to the Shavano-Tabeguache saddle. From here we then descended an additional 400 vertical feet down a gentle talus slope to a lower saddle at the base of Pt 13712.

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Tabeguache Peak from Pt 13712

Once at this lower saddle we didn't waste time and immediately started up the West Ridge of Pt. 13712. The climb was just a bit more than 300 vertical feet and it didn't take long. Snow was entirely avoidable as we talus hopped up the steep slope to the summit. At the summit the views of the surrounding peaks were magnificent including a not often seen perspective of Shavano. We briefly thought about continuing along the ridge towards Jones Peak for a little bit of scrambling fun. Ultimately though we decided that the descent and bushwack back to the Mt Shavano trail would not be enjoyable. With the decision made and after taking in the views, we turned west and headed back down 13712. It was time for another ascent of Mt Shavano.

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Looking east down ridge at Jones Peak
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Man, I need to get some gloves like those
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A slightly different view of Antero and White
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Mt Shavano from Pt 13712

Once down at saddle it was 800 vertical feet to re-summit Shavano. I think about half way up this long climb we both regretted not going out via Jones (I told Keyton I was counting Shavano twice on my list...). Nevertheless, we easily climbed back to the summit of Shavano for a second time. This time we got the views, had a quick lunch and continued on. There still was one more 13er we wanted to climb. Since we had opted to pass on Jones Peak, instead, we decided to climb "Espirit Point. It was an unranked peak just to the south of Shavano. We took the standard trail off Shavano, crossed the expansive saddle that separated the two peaks and quickly made our way up the dry slopes of "Espirit Point" for our 4th peak of the day.

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Tabeguache and Shavano from "Espirit Point"

The views were exceptional from "Espirit Point" and it was worth the little detour. Now we had another decision to make. The SE ridge coming off this Point led directly back to the trailhead where we had parked. At a glance, it looked like it would go and would be an expressway home. However, it looked steep and horribly loose plus neither of us knew anything about this route. We both decided to play it safe and head back down The Angel of Shavano.

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Heading back to The Angel

It was an easy talus scramble back to the saddle. We then took a rock band down to the body of The Angel and descended wearing our crampons. The snow had softened a bit but was still in good condition. Luckily, there had been cloud cover almost the entire day preventing the snow from becoming too mushy. For the most part this was the case all the way back to our vehicle and we experienced very little postholing.

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Saying goodbye to The Angel

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
supranihilest


Jones
05/07/2020 14:31
If only I wasn't almost getting stranded in Canada when you did this trip! Good call on not going out to Jones, as it'd probably be better to traverse back and go down Shavano if you had. I did these peaks in October and the descent off Jones to Shavano Lake and reascent back over Shav's east ridge pretty much all sucked. Nice work on these four dude, and a great winter overall!


CaptainSuburbia


Thanks!
05/09/2020 10:43
Thanks Ben! Wish you could have been on this one too. I think you're right about Jones. It would have been a long bushwack out of there with plenty of postholing.



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