Monday, May 18, 2009

Jones, Shavano, Tabeguache, Espirit Point

Jones Peak (13,604)
~9 miles
~4,500 vertical

After getting camp set up near the Blank Gulch TH around mid afternoon in preparation for Shavano and Tabeguache the following day, I had a few hours to kill before dinner and the weather was nearly perfect, so I figured I would go explore and see if I could fit in a climb up Jones Peak.

I started off heading North on the Colorado Trail, went about a mile past the junction of the Shavano Trail, crossed Squaw Creek and headed NW, over a ridge, crossed another small creek and began climbing the SE ridge of the SE ridge. The bushwhacking was relatively easy up to about 11,000 feet, then the hill got a little steeper, a little rockier and a lot more vegetated with plenty of deadfall up to about 12,000 feet.

Before long, I emerged from the trees as the clouds that were previously enshrouding the peaks were mostly dissipating. The day was relatively warm and there was hardly a breeze. Up I went over Pt. 12,985 and got my first real view of the true summit. There were several rollers that could be easily skirted with some painless side hilling, a steepish climb to the summit, then a bit of confusion. There were several similar height summits along the ridge, then a much higher point almost all the way to Shavano. A quick check of the GPS confirmed that I was on the summit of Jones, but what is that other peak? Unfortunately, I don’t have time to keep going and have to be content with just Jones.

I promised Allison that I would not be gone long, so I tried to get back fast, but the steep/rocky/deadfall section between 12,000 and 11,000 feet was very slow and tedious, resulting in lots of slips, trips and curse words. Keeping my same line going down also turned out to be a bit of a challenge, so I occasionally referred to my GPS just to streamline things. Once I hit the Colorado Trail, I jogged the remainder of the way back to camp, regretting the heavy pack I carried, as I only needed my glove liners, GPS, camera and a bottle of water. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

Shavano, Tabeguache, Espirit Point
~11 miles
~5,600 vertical
Angel of Shavano from Blank Gulch TH
Allison, Sierra and I

The Angel is one of our favorite easy snowclimbs/glissades, so when Allison suggested the trip and the weather forecast looked to be perfect for Sunday, I was eager to go. We camped in a nice meadow just beyond the Blank Gulch TH and enjoyed a quiet night.

We arose a bit past 5, but were slow to get going, which did not happen until 6:22am. We made good time up the trail, passing several other groups of 1’s and 2’s. The trail was free of snow all the way to the point at which we began the bushwhack toward the base of the Angel. In the woods, there was a short stretch where there were sporadic patches of snow (no snowshoes necessary), but they could easily be avoided or crossed without any difficulty. At the base of the Angel, we took about 30+ minute break to gear up/fuel up before engaging the snow.

Conditions were soft, as it was 8:30am before we started climbing the snow, but very easy as the angle of the slope is pretty laid back. We decided on the right arm, hoping for a more direct line toward the summit, but the snow was discontinuous and we eventually removed the crampons/axe and made the final grind toward the summit which always looks much closer than it is. Having climbed each arm and the head in the past, I have determined that it does not matter which way you pick, it is all about the same.

I topped out at 9:55 and Allison was 7 minutes behind. She was very happy with that since it was earlier than she topped out last time, we started 22 minutes later AND she passed and put time on all the guys we passed.

Once on the summit of Shavano though, she was reminded how far it was over to Tabeguache and decided to turn me loose and have at it while she and Sierra took a break. Not wanting to keep her waiting long, I boogied over there at a quick pace on the mostly dry ridgeline down to the saddle, avoided most of the snow on the ascent of Tabeguache, then retraced my steps back to Shavano. For some reason I thought it was 15 minutes each way, but it ended up taking me 25 over and 21 back going pretty hard. Oops.

Back on Shavano, I finally relaxed a bit, taking a long break and soaking in the scenery. It was so calm, warm and sunny, it felt as though summer had truly arrived. On the way out, we tagged Espirit Point for kicks, before the much anticipated glissade down the Angel. Lots of whoops and hollers as we sped down, Sierra sprinting and pouncing along side.

It was such a nice day, we took our sweet time walking out, finishing the day at 2:40pm and reluctantly drove home, wishing we could do it all over again.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet that you are getting many peaks in Jeff. You are a man with your priorities straight!