Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  04/24/2006
Date Climbed:   04/22/2006
Author:  chris1217
 Shavano and Tabeguache from Angel of Shavano Trailhead  

Took a trip to Shavano and Tabeguache, hoping to find some of the last remnants of snow in the angel coulior. Left Denver at about 5:00 am after picking up el cheapo inflatable pool mattress on which to glissade the snow. It was a beautiful day: warm but not hot, with some sun and no weather in sight.


Arrived at Angel of Shavano trailhead at about 8:00 am and on trail at 8:15 (after getting a speeding ticket.) I chose Angel trailhead because it appeared on the maps that I had: I had failed to load my GPS map, my standard practice for a climb. I also forgot Roach or a print-out from So essentially I was going to ascend by sight. Departing from Angel of Shavano rather than Blank Creek Cabin adds about 2 miles round trip to the climb, and about 1100' feet of gain. The Angel of Shavano trailhead is clear of snow, as is the trail all the way up until the trees. Unfortunately, I took the wrong turn-off, an old Jeep trail that crosses the Colorado Trail about 1.25 miles north of the trailhead. I followed this quite a ways up the southeast ridge of Shavano, when it abruptly ended at an old mine, at which point I began bushwhacking north with the hope of meeting my true trail. I never did. Instead, I did run into an elk with his new horns, probably about 5 years old I would guess; and a snowshoe hare, a very nice fellow who let me take his picture.


I then turned west to follow the ridgeline. I could see it through the trees. For some time, I actually thought it was Shavano! But I was actually going up the south side of the southeast ridge of Shavano. No trail and lots of talus: it was slow going, but I found Old Man Tree standing on the side of the mountain.


I got to the top of the ridge by about 1:00 (at about 13,500') and my illusions were dispelled when I saw Shavano's true summit: a fairly symmetrical pyramid from that vantage, and Tabeguache in its background.


I then headed down into the saddle where it became fiercely windy (a common state on that west and southwest side of Shavano and Tabeguache, I've heard from others.) I was slowing considerably, finally made the summit by about 2:30 took lunch and met a couple of guys that headed up from the Blank Cabin trailhead. At about 3, I headed for Tabeguache. Some gray clouds were forming, but no sight nor sound of electrical activity, and it was cold and dry enough to think it unlikely. Made the summit of Tabeguache by 3:45, and back in the saddle between by 4:00 (after a nice little glissade down T's east face.) I then unwisely chose to circle around the north face of Shavano to stay out of the wind. There, the wind was no bother, but it was a long tough haul across steep talus on that side. (The southwest and south side of Shavano between the two didn't look much better at the time, but I imagine it had to be.) I crossed the east face over to the top of the snow in the coulior for the fun part, the coup-de-grace: a 2000' glissade. Needless to say, it was fun. I had my slightly inflated pool mattress and used my trekking poles to brake as needed by holding them at the base and dragging them in the snow on each side of me. 15 minutes later, I was at tree line, and I found another one of those old bare ponderosas.


Once at the bottom of the snowfield, navigating out was not fun. I never did find a trail. I managed to bushwhack my way back to the Colorado Trail, almost to the point where I had left it to take that false jeep trail. It was about 6:30 when I got back to the Angel of Shavano trailhead. Moral of the story: study the route before you go and bring a map! I estimate I added about 2.5 miles and at least 1000' of elevation gain, maybe more, by taking the wrong ridge up, plus the difficulty of being off-trail almost the whole way. Still getting lost can be an adventure, even if explaining to one's significant other why one was so late becomes taxing.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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