Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak
Colorado 14er
14,236 feet and 14,155 feet, 4339, 4314 meters
14ers FAQ|New Climber FAQ

Belford and Missouri seen from Missouri GulchPatrick, Robert and I set out to bag the two peaks of the Shavano Group in August 2006. Robert and I met in Salida for a quick dinner and met Patrick at the trailhead just as an incredible heavy rain storm hit the area. We sat in my car and quickly decided the better part of valor (or courage) was to sleep in the cars that night instead of our tents. Our decision was ratified with a close-by lightning strike and finalized with a ear-shatering thunder boom.

We choose the Blank Gulch trailhead since the "classic" Angle of Shavano was nothing more than a long scree climb without the snow. Leaving the trailhead at 5:30 AM on Saturday August 12 the weather had cleared leaving us with a mild, humid summer morning in the Rockies. But not all was well and after a few minutes Patrick decided to return to the cars not feeling well. We have all been there.

Robert and I continued higher. The trailhead is at 9500' and we climbed 2,000' in the first hour. The trail follows a small stream and wends in and out of small clearings but remains below the treeline until 11,600'. Shavano's summit peaked out above the trees. The trail was very rocky up to this point but generally well marked and easy to follow even in the early morning light. As we broke above treeline the trail turned to well worn dirt and took a direct bearing for the saddle below Shavano. We continued to gain altitude towards 13,000'.

The summit was obvious as a cone (left picture) that rose 1,000' above the saddle. Soon we were in the boulders of Shavano following a sometimes invisible trail. Some easy scrambling was required as we climbed higher and higher. Then all of a sudden, the angles lessened and we were on the summit ridge. Robert and I stopped and looked at one another. "Are we here?" we almost asked in unision. As we scanned the area looking for Tabeguache, we noted another "summit" a few hundred yards along the ridge. "Is that the summit?" we asked. Then Robert made the understatement of the day "If this is the summit, it sure is anti-climatic!" And he was correct - it was both.

As the pictures show, there was a low layer of dark clouds forming to the west and above us. We spotted Tab (right picture) and noted it required a downclimb along the ridge to the saddle 600' lower and then another 400' up to Tab's summit. We debated our exposure on the ridge. It would take at least one and half hours for the round trip and another hour to get back to treeline. The lightening last night was close, sharp and dangerous so we did not want to be caught above treeline if a storm developed.

Robert observed that there was no real organization of the clouds and there were patches of blue sky so we decided to go for it. We made it to the saddle in 20 minutes and up to Tab's in another 15. Making such good time, we took a break and enjoyed the views. I took my summit video and we had some lunch. The clouds were rising from the lower valleys and it made for a nice 3D look on an otherwise dull and gray day. The ridge off Shav was impressive (left picture).

Not wanting to push our luck we left Tab for the saddle and soon were traversing Shav's rocky summit. We stayed below the ridge and wound up not really following a trail but rather did a long rock scramble circumnavigating 200' lower than the summit to the east. It was actually more interesting than following the established trail along the ridge.


We reached the saddle, treeline and soon were back in the forest. The pine trees were quite fragrant. There were a few more people now. We were almost alone as we started the day.

OK, another 14er or two in the bag. To be honest, this was not my most enjoyable climb from a 14er perspective. The trail below treeline was nice but the climb to Shav's summit was ordinary. The traverse over to Tab was good but the reversal back over Shav and down was not really exciting.

What made it worthwhile was climbing with good friends.