| By a fire where I burn my plans to warm me
Start Time: 5:05 AM
Shavano Summit: 9:00 AM
Tabeguache Summit: 10:30 AM
Return to car 2:00 PM
Total Time: ~9 hours
Distance: 11 Miles
Elevation Gain: 5600'
After the knee trouble I had on Huron last month I figured my season was over. As I shifted my focus to school, a small part of me knew I was just lying to myself thinking I could be happy without getting up into the mountains.
My usual partners were busy, so I looked up on the forums here and saw there was quite a few people climbing Shavano / Tabeguache and I was lucky enough to setup a carpool with 2 really cool guys: Andy (fahixson) and Brian (Adventure Seeker).
I was a little sketched out by the idea of looking on internet forums to find people to go do stuff with, but this worked out really well and I'm glad I did it. Normally my roommates and friends are upset and irritated when I blab on and on about mountains, so it was really sweet to talk to other people with the same obsession.
We started out at 5:05, assuming the other groups would eventually catch up (they did). The portion of the hike through the woods was uneventful as it was dark and cold. The cool part came when we emerged above treeline and saw one of my favorite sights on this earth: a blanket of clouds covering the landscape
Need I say more? This is incredible!
Next we ran into 2 other guys that were from Gunnison and moving to Denver (Alex and Brian) and we talked to them for a while, turns out they liked 14ers as well, and that Alex, Andy and I all studied similar subjects in school.
My favorite color, sunrise red on the mountainside!
Worst of the snow right here (may change at any time)
Once we got onto the saddle the wind started blowing and it was too cold so I had to keep moving and get out of the wind as fast as possible. I hurried up the the summit of Shavano.
Soon after both both Brians arrived, and several people from 14ers.com. My carpool buddies weren't feeling the second summit, but allowed me to go over to Tabeguache with the 14ers crew provided I made it fast. I was concerned that later they would be waiting around for me at the car for a long time but thankfully they weren't.
On the traverse to Tabeguache I met a number of cool people, including Corey (thevagabond), 14erAddict, her friend, Steve (more on him later) and several others who's names I've sadly forgotten. We had some enjoyable conversation, shared some stories, and I was super psyched about how many other people were as stoked as I am to climb 14ers.
On Tabeguache, some others (also from 14ers.com) joined us, and we took a 14ers.com picture. We all shared usernames, most of them were familiar, and it was neat to match a name to a face.
Look at this guy!
Northern sawatch peaks
Because I wanted to go down fast so Alex and Brian weren't waiting too long, Steve and I headed back to Shavano.
On the descent trip I had the honor of sharing conversation with Steve, and the crux of the story is: Steve (sgladbach) is a champ!
He appeared that he was just another hiker in the group, but when I heard him mention that he was friends with Ken Nolan I knew he was legit. He didn't like to brag, but I pried out of him that he had completed all the 14ers (4 times) and all of the ranked 13ers and was just a few peaks away from climbing all the unranked 13ers. He was also part of the very first group to hike the entire Colorado trail before it was even an official trail (there was only a written guide). He also is considerably close to finishing winter climbs of the centennials. Steve is seriously a vault of Colorado mountaineering wisdom, and has some impressive non-Colorado credentials as well (Denali, Aconcagua).
Steve suggested we take an alternate route down, and he was able to seemingly cut the distance in half. I was dumbfounded at his routefinding when he pointed in a random direction (beyond a group of fallen trees) and said "we just have to go 100 ft in this direction and we will see the trail" and sure enough we climbed over the trees and it was exactly where he said it was. I'm pretty sure he guided us down the most efficient way possible down the mountain.
Besides trying to suck as much information on mountaineering and Colorado history as I could from him, we also had some good discussion about math, teaching and neural development -- also topics I have great passion for. Steve if you read this: it was an honor to hike with you and I'd be happy to have you show me some of the more difficult 14ers.
While descending my left knee did again become painful, but 2 ibuprofens helped that, and after they wore off it didn't hurt nearly as much as my limp-fest on Huron.
I was concerned that Andy and Brian were waiting for me for a long time, but since Steve's alternate route shaved a good 90 minutes off our time I was relieved to find they had only been waiting 20-30 minutes. Thanks guys for waiting for me!!!
The three of us drove back to the Park-and-ride, but not without enjoying some unhealthy fattening Dominos on the way. Andy and Brian: you are both really cool guys and I enjoyed hiking and carpooling with you!
This was an incredible day that is again one of my favorite 14er moments. I know it sounds cliche, and I say it in every trip report, but it's true. Mountain climbing is truly nourishment for the body and the spirit. Since this was my first trip with 14ers.com members I'll conclude with this: you all are a cool group of people and thanks for letting me be a part of your group today.
Looking forward to more climbs
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):