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2009/03/14 - "Esprit Point" 13630', Mount Shavano 14228', Tabeguache Peak 14115', Un 13712', Jones Peak 13604'

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Gary Neben
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2009/03/14 - "Esprit Point" 13630', Mount Shavano 14228', Tabeguache Peak 14115', Un 13712', Jones Peak 13604'

Peaks: "Esprit Point" 13630, Mount Shavano 14229, Tabeguache Peak 14155, 13712 (Mount Antero Quad), Jones Peak 13604

Dates: 03/14/2009

Post by Gary Neben » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:25 am

Elevation Gain: >6500
Mileage: >13 miles RT
Participants: Sarah Thompson, Dwight Sunwall, Gary Neben, Mike Via, Steve Hoffmeyer

From an old TR ...

This started out as a Winter Warrior plan that Mike & I cooked up on the way home from last week's Twin Sisters outing. It turned out that Sarah, and Dwight also had plans for Shavano & Tabeguache, and Gary was interested in the combining those two peaks with the two bi-centennials next door. Sarah PMed me and we decided to combine forces.

Most of you know the players here, and I'm sure you will agree that it was a very strong group, with me possibly being the weakest link. I have to admit that going into it I was a little nervous, but at the same time very excited and proud to be part of this elite bunch for the day. I felt a little like a minor league baseball player who was getting a chance to play in "the show".

We started out from the TH at 7:20 AM after waiting 20 minutes for Kevin Lund who was also part of the Winter Warriors contingent. We left a message on his cell phone and started off without him.

I had a copy of a map with a route suggestion from Terri Horvath who had done Shavano & Tabeguache last winter at about the same time of year. Her route not only cut a couple of miles off the normal approach, but avoided much of the snow this time of year. Needless to say we totally screwed up and hiked for nearly a mile before we realized that we missed the turn-off point. We decided to improvise and take a similar line up to the ridge extending east from "Esprit Point". This turned out to be an unpleasant steep slog up a mixture of hard and sugar snow until we reached the ridge.

We finally broke tree line and decided to stash our snow shoes. Gary kept his because the loop route he planned to take which included the two additional peaks did not return to this point.

From our route we could look to our right and see the Angel of Shavano snow climb below us, and noticed two parties of two making their way up the route. Little did we know that one of the parties was Dave Hale and Kevin Lund. As it turned out Kevin went to the wrong TH and luckily teamed up with Dave who was originally invited on this trip but had other plans which fell apart.

We took our first long break below "Esprit Point", taking pictures (see picture above) and refueling for the long trek ahead. From here it was a nice hike down gentle terrain to the saddle between "Esprit Point" and Mount Shavano, followed by the 800' homestretch climb to the summit of Mount Shavano

I arrived at the summit of Mount Shavano in about 6 hours, shortly after Sarah & Dwight got there. Gary had gotten there earlier and was already on his way to complete the rest of his 4 peak plan. I was surprised to see Dave Hale, Shep, and Kevin Lund on the summit with Sarah & Dwight. I didn't recognize Kevin at first, or even at second. At first I though it was Dave Gibson, then I thought it was Gary Neben. I'm sure I sounded stupid, I'll blame it on the altitude.

Mike showed up at the summit shortly behind me and after a short break we decided our future. Mike, Dave, and Kevin decided to call it a day with Shavano, and Sarah, Dwight, and I opted to go on for Tabeguache. This was my third time on top of Mount Shavano in winter and on both previous trips I planned to include Tabeguache Peak but didn't have the strength or the weather to continue. I guess for me the third time was a charm.

Sarah, Dwight, and I made good time tagging Tabeguache and returning to the summit of Shavano in about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Dave & Kevin descended the Angel and Mike waited for us on top of Shavano. Later he jokingly told me that he may have the record for the longest time spent on the summit of a Colorado 14er in winter.

Did I mention that it was a bluebird winter day? It was so nice it almost felt like we were cheating, for it was more like summer than winter. On the other hand I felt that we had earned this day after all the cold and windy days we hiked earlier in the winter season.

On the way down we decided to look for Terri's route and Dwight did a fantastic job of finding the route. He is truly a master with the GPS. He and Sarah also did a great job picking a route that avoided 90% of the snow on the slope and brought us back on the trail 4/10 of a mile from our cars. Thanks again Sarah & Dwight!

We arrived back at the TH after a total time of approximately 12 hours.

For me this was a wonderful way to finish the winter of 2008-2009. Not only did I challenge myself with by far my most elevation gain of all the trips I have done this season, but I also picked up a new winter 14er.

Some Photos:
1) Sarah near the summit of "Esprit Peak" with Mount Shavano in the background
2) Sarah, Dwight, Kevin, & Dave on the summit of Shavano with Shep in the foreground
3) Steve on the summit of "Esprit Peak" with Mount Shavano in the background

Dave Hale
03-15-2009, 03:02 PM
I'll converge with and diverge from Steve's TR…hope you don't mind, Steve!

My original plan for yesterday was Belford and Oxford. The Winfield Road is usually "closed" just beyond the ranch entrance during the winter, leaving 4 miles of snowy road to the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Considering the unseasonably warm weather and stingy snowfall this winter, I hoped for vehicular access most if not all of the way to the trailhead. Emily and I drove out there late Friday afternoon to do a little recon, and without too much trouble managed 0.8 mile past the ranch entrance; beyond that point, the snow on the road increased considerably, and recent tracks (and muddy ruts…) revealed that someone got into some trouble there. We turned around at the point, and I was left to consider whether I wanted 6.5 additional miles added to the Belford/Oxford round trip. The road issue, plus the prospect of breaking trail solo into Missouri Gulch, compelled me to re-consider Steve's invitation to join the Winter Warriors' assault on Shavano and Tabeguache.

Yesterday, a late departure from Buena Vista precluded our making the WW 7:00 a.m. start time at the Angel of Shavano trailhead; and, I wasn't really interested in going over Esprit at the expense of climbing The Angel. So we turned off 285 for the Blank Gulch trailhead, with the plan for me to rendezvous with the WW group on the Esprit-Shavano saddle. We encountered the usual impassable snowdrift on 252 (at the Placer Creek crossing), and then returned to the fork to try the alternate approach via 250/250A. About 1.5 miles back on 250A, the likelihood of getting stuck approached 100%, so we returned to and parked at the 252 snowdrift. No problem...only 2.5 miles to the Blank Gulch trailhead, with spectacular early-morning-sun views of Shavano all the way. There is a large aspen tree fallen across the road just past the point at which 252 and 250A converge (~750 feet from the trailhead). I hope the Forest Service gets to this soon…otherwise, the pleasant meadow on the left will be tracked by drivers bypassing the tree.

We got on the road at 7:36 a.m., and arrived at the Blank Gulch trailhead ~50 minutes later. Jeff Valliere called as we rested, and indicated that Kevin Lund (who I thought was with the WW group) was on his way from the snowdrift. After shouting down the road several times, we resumed hiking, assuming that Kevin would catch up with us soon enough. About 100 feet past the Blank Gulch trailhead, Kiefer once again managed to re-injure his leg by charging into deep snow. So he and Emily returned to the truck, rather than accompanying Shep and me to treeline as planned. I resumed the hike, and quickened my pace to catch up with voices I heard on the Colorado Trail; I soon met Keith Kiggins and two of his hiking colleagues.

Kevin caught up with me about 0.5 mile from where the Angel route emerges from the trees, just as the reasonably well-packed trail devolved into the predictable postholing snowfest. As always, it was a relief to finally break out of the trees…and the deep unconsolidated snow…and to have the close-up view of the very sunny Angel of Shavano.

The Angel is not well formed this year. The body is reasonable for climbing and glissading, but is not as full as usual (right side is attenuated). The right arm is thin and discontinuous; the left arm extends ~200 feet towards the Esprit-Shavano saddle, but its surface is hard, rough, and irregular. The head is a wispy patchy smear. I ditched my snowshoes at the large rock near the base of the Angel, and donned Kahtoola microspikes; Kevin's boots went commando. Our ice axes stayed on the packs, as poles would suffice for this low-angle snow ascent. The snow of The Angel was rock hard, with a light dusting of recent dry powder. My microspikes worked great on this surface and, with my hiking poles, I felt completely secure on the grade. The heat was oppressive…with its albedo, the snow was actually working against us. Soon after we began The Angel, the 5 climbers of the WW group came into view on the east ridge of Esprit, and we shouted a greeting and waved our poles. It took ~25 minutes to reach the base of the right arm, where we bailed to the right.

Ascending parallel to the right arm, we soon intersected the Shavano trail. We followed the dry trail for several minutes, until it disappeared under a snowfield. From this point, we followed the reticulate network of trails to the summit of Shavano. As we ascended the summit mass, we watched the WW group descend from Esprit to the saddle in record time. We summitted at 1:19 p.m.

The WW climbers arrived at the summit over a ~20-minute span. Gary arrived at 1:25 p.m. and quickly left for Tabeguache, as he had ambitious plans for that and some nearby thirteeners. Sarah arrived at 1:34 p.m., with Dwight a minute or two later. Steve and Mike summitted 10-15 minutes later. It was great fun having a mini Gathering, sitting in the hot sun and cold breeze on a fourteener on the last Saturday of winter 2008-2009.

Kevin and Mike were out for Tabeguache, but Steve, Sarah, and Dwight were raring to go. I stood to join the three of them for a new winter fourteener, but was dismayed that my nagging right foot was becoming painful. So within 30 seconds of saying "I'm in!" for Tabeguache, I called out to Steve that I was bailing. After watching the group set off, and saying goodbye to Mike, Kevin and began our descent at 2:20 p.m.

The glissade of The Angel was disappointing. We got on the snow ~100 feet up the left arm, and quickly found rough surface that was unconducive to speed. With gravity and some arm work (no pun intended:D), we got to the top of the body (where the angle increases substantially), and finally achieved some reasonable speed. Unfortunately, the stiff wind blowing up The Angel blew the snow flying from our boots right into our faces…we were blinded, our faces were painfully cold and wet, and, in my case, I became very dizzy (mammalian diving reflex?). Consequently, our glissade was broken into 2-3 segments punctuated with breaks to dry our faces and regain composure.

The remainder of the descent was uneventful, except for a couple of world-class wallows in the deep churned snow just inside the trees. Emily and Kiefer met us on 252, about 0.5 mile below the Blank Gulch trailhead. We arrived at the snowdrift at 5:05 p.m. After pulling some snowboarders' vehicle out of the snow adjacent to Placer Creek, we parted company and headed home.

Some photos from our climb:
-- "on-the-road" shows Kiefer, Emily, and Shep walking up 252 towards the Blank Gulch trailhead; sunlit Esprit and Shavano are in the background.
-- "Angel1" shows the view near the base of The Angel; two climbers have already begun their ascent.
-- "Angel2" shows Shep and Kevin ascending The Angel. Note the right side (south-facing) of The Angel is not as full as usual.
-- "summit1" shows Kevin, Shep, and me on the summit of Shavano.
-- "summit2" shows Sarah reaching the summit. Note the Sangres in the background...perhaps they're relieved that Sarah is picking on someone else this last winter weekend?

Jill Salva
03-15-2009, 03:17 PM
Awesome outing all. Sounds like conditions were ideal for gettin' some vert and having fun!

Steve Hoffmeyer
03-15-2009, 03:27 PM
Dave: It was good to meet up with you on the summit! Sorry about your foot.

Dave Hale
03-15-2009, 03:47 PM

Good to see all of you up there, too. I don't regret Tabeguache...bailing was the best choice to make for this entropy-plagued body; but, I bummed to have missed out on the opportunity to climb with you, Dwight, and Sarah.

It was 1:50 roundtrip between the peaks?

For comparison, here is a photo of The Angel from May 15 last year!

Keith Kiggins
03-16-2009, 05:46 AM
I gave it hell to try to catch you guys up top somewhere, but it just was not happening. One of my partners began feeling weird, and the other clearly wasn't having a good day either. I'm just too damn slow! :mad: Still, it was nice to meet Dave and Kevin at least. And the gregarious Shep...

Rick Canter
03-16-2009, 12:51 PM
Wow, what a pack of 14erWorlders on this trip. Good to see most of you enjoying yourselves with the rest getting down safely.

Steve: Shep can make anyone look like a bush-leaguer, eh?

The photo from 252 of the peaks is telling. I am daunted by the elevation gain shown (the first phase of psyching myself into it)...

Dwight Sunwall
03-16-2009, 01:24 PM
Stevo, it was great to hike with you again. It was the first time I've hiked with Eagle Eye, and Gary Neben. Gary has an epic story to tell, had us worried for awhile. The place was so crowded it looked like a summer hike.

We saw two other people on Princeton the next day, one we knew. 14ers, there not just for summer anymore.

Mike Price
03-16-2009, 02:35 PM
Nice job to all of you! We were across the way on Antero...but only made it to Point 13,800. Must get more than 2.5 hours of sleep before next winter Sawatch attempt.... Probably could've forged on to the summit but we were eyeing a steep snowfield near the top that looked a bit dicey without crampons. Plus my friend Matt was feeling a bit light-headed and neither of us felt too hot. Enough excuses...have to wait till next time for my first successful summit on 14erWorld.

Sue Personett
03-16-2009, 09:20 PM
Dear Dave, Kevin, Steve,et all,
Sorry that I missed this hike. I've always wanted to hike the Angel. Congrats to all.

Gary Neben
03-16-2009, 09:58 PM
Stevo, it was great to hike with you again. It was the first time I've hiked with Eagle Eye, and Gary Neben. Gary has an epic story to tell, had us worried for awhile. The place was so crowded it looked like a summer hike.

We saw two other people on Princeton the next day, one we knew. 14ers, there not just for summer anymore.
Well, I can feel a prompt when I see one. First off, it was a lot of fun hiking with everyone and especially meeting Sarah and Mike for the first time.

Can you believe the incredible weather we had? Like Steve I was surprised seeing Dave Hale lurking on the summit - so much so that I didn't fully recognize him either, although I had this deja vu feeling. In my defense, however, I had only met him once before when I climbed Elbert several winters ago together with Hoot.

Some levity and apology: Dwight, I texted rather than called you in the hope that it would be less likely to wake you and you would get it as soon as you woke up. (See screen shots below.) I didn’t want to cause any complications with your and Sarah’s plans on Sunday. Alas you didn’t get my message. I suspect that you don’t have texting enabled on your phone plan – and I didn’t receive any handshake to that effect. Otherwise I don’t know why you didn’t get my message.

I was hoping to meet up with everyone for some dinner in Beuna Vista or Salida for some company, food, and relaxation. Instead I wound up getting a hot dog at the Gunsmoke gas station in Johnson Village, alone, around midnight. Biting into one of those things could set you back a few years!

I didn’t get out until 10:00 and, then, just barely. I had nothing left – totally exhausted. The problem was I couldn’t get back over the ridge to the Angel trail. [This is the eastern ridge of Shavano just south of Shavano Lake after completing Un 13712 and Jones Pk.] It turns out that the northern aspect of this ridge is loaded with a ton of snow – something that certainly wasn’t visible to me when I was looking over at the area earlier in the day from the south.

I fought to get back over the ridge, sometimes wallowing in chest-deep snow. It took me a long time and when I got to ridge I was lower down (east) than where I wanted to be and I was tired. From that point on I was a zombie. I did connect with the Angel trail in the trees and slugged on.

In the dark and with my headlamp batteries failing, I missed the final turnoff to the cars at the Angel of Shavano TH and started following the road out. Perhaps this was simply a case of following the path of least resistance. I almost called it quits and was ready to crawl into my bivy sack. The moon would be out in several hours and then I would be able to see. But my family would certainly worry if I missed my call-in time (which I did) and I also had told Dwight and Sarah that I would call (and I hadn’t).

So, back to the death march. Realizing my mistake I went over a ridge to the west and bushwacked/stumbled down to a road in near darkness which luckily turned out to be 240.

The ridge between 13712 and Jones was very nice Class 3 like you (Sarah) said. The crux for me was immediately coming off 13712. There was some steep snow. I switched from poles to my axe and kicked steps down. At the bottom I had to self-arrest on some very hard-packed snow where only a tiny bit of my pick would go in.

So everything went smoothly until that final ridge back to the trail. If I had known that it was the snow ridge from Hell I would have sucked it up and come back over Shavano.

Jeremy Hakes
03-17-2009, 06:58 AM
Steve - what is Terri's route suggestion that you missed? Do you have a topo of the suggested route?

Jeff Valliere
03-17-2009, 07:13 AM
Great one guys. Allison and I waffled on plans and just could not put things together for Saturday, but we sure were envious and regretful that we were missing out on such a fine day as we got live updates from Kevin, Dave and Emily that morning.

That route from the Angel of Shavano campground sure is efficient up over Esprit Point. I tried that route (for ascent only) back in Sept. and almost made the mistake you guys did by following the Colorado Trail too long, as I had not really done my homework. Fortunately I realized it quick and cut a hard left up the hill after running just several strides.

Gary, nice work on an epic day, sounds tiring getting through that chest deep snow, who woulda thought?

Dwight Sunwall
03-17-2009, 07:43 AM
Gary, no problem with the text message not getting through, it didn't really make any difference, other than waking your wife up at 5:30am Sunday with a call to find out you made it out.

Your wife seemed to have some experience at this. :) She knew just what to do, what questions to ask, had a map and knew pretty much where you were going.

When to turn for Espirit:
Take the first good left after leaving the Shavano campground trailhead it goes up the ridge at the right hand edge of the stream.

Jeff Valliere
03-17-2009, 07:50 AM
When to turn for Espirit:
Take the first good left after leaving the Shavano campground trailhead it goes up the ridge at the right hand edge of the stream.
Did you see an actual trail? I started bushwhacking to the left and up almost immidiately after starting up the Co. trail and after several hundred vertical feet, I occasionally crossed a lightly used trail/game trail on the right side of the steep drainage.

Dwight Sunwall
03-17-2009, 07:56 AM
Did you see an actual trail? I started bushwhacking to the left and up almost immidiately after starting up the Co. trail and after several hundred vertical feet, I occasionally crossed a lightly used trail/game trail on the right side of the steep drainage.
It was a fairly well used trail it seemed, rather obvious right where it took a Y from the established trail. We hesitated there on the way up, thinking it might be the way to go, but for some reason I don't remember decided against it.

Keith Kiggins
03-17-2009, 08:43 AM
Thanks Dwight, I was thinking that it was likely just a "straight" shot up that draw, right there where the CO Trail switches east and starts climbing that annoying ridge. In hindsight, I sure wish I had researched and considered that route more thoroughly. Of course, if we had arrived at the trailhead literally a few minutes earlier, we may have actually followed you guys up! Hiking over to Blank Gulch and slogging up to the Angel is just not a very good time in my opinion.

Ken Nolan
03-17-2009, 09:26 AM
I hope there won’t be a test concerning who was where when. Congrats to all on good use of a fine winter day.

Mike Via
03-19-2009, 07:28 PM
Nice to meet you Sarah & Gary, and to hike with Dwight for the 1st time.
Also a good way to finish up a really fun winter. Congrats Gary.

I didnt think I could keep up for the continuation to Tabawasgaugche.
I watched you 3 and the 2 other guys (we didnt know) ahead of you.
They didnt even have gloves!?

I was also confused to see Kevin on the summit, since we thought he had cancelled out. Good to see Dave & you made it! I thought sure I'd seen a dog in the couloir on the way up.

I paced around on the Shavano summit, and found the register...or all that remains of it. Did anyone spend more than 1hr 50 mins on a 14k summit this winter? I want a record, too :) ha ha

Jeff V, yes we could see the detour that Terri H had told Steve about. We stopped at it in the morning. It was faint but you could see it.
Coming down it was fairly well established and stayed on the right side/edge of the large gully.

Steve & I stopped at the Buena Vista Subway...and we thought it was colder inside than it was on the summit.
take care friends, Mike "Eagle Eye" Via

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