Thursday, July 4, 2024

Mount Shavano 2024

It was 1998 when I last stood atop the summit of Mt. Shavano. Just long enough that I didn't have much memory of that first ascent as an 18-year old. In my adventures of repeating many of the 14ers and enjoying other peaks I had been wanting and waiting for a return here. As I was out in Leadville preparing for the Silver Rush 50 and wanting acclimation hikes this one eventually fit the bill. My brother, and two of my sons, Luke and Seth were eager to join.

Trip Info:
East Slopes route
Trailhead Elevation: 9,782 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,230 ft.
Distance: 12.04 mi. 
  (inflated from the norm 9.5mi for Shav)
Elevation Gain: 4,755 ft.
Start Time: 7:59am
End Time: 5:18pm

Trip Report:
My father dropped our hiking group off at the trailhead. He had sore legs from yesterday's hike up Huron and so was taking an off day today. The rest of us set out from Blank's Cabin with a fantastic weather report and excitement for a summit. The route began with a short hike up to the Colorado Trail and then an equally short hike on the CT southbound til the Shavano trail broke free.

Encountering the CT

Ready for the turn up the Shavano trail from the CT

One of the things I was curious to see today was what changes that CFI had made on the Shavano route. I had loosely followed the stories of the purchase of land atop Shavano to keep the route free and some proposed re-routing that would be, or was already, happening.

In our hiking today I believe we took advantage of the lower bypass that CFI has been working on which exists not far up trail from the CT. We could see sections of trail that had clearly been newly worked upon. As this bypass ended however we found an absolute mess. We encountered a relatively new wooden sign pointing "Trail" and left arrow. This took us into a nearly half mile section of rough trail over roots and clearly had the look of a haphazard bypass. I can only assume this section is the second lower bypass that CFI will be working on in the year ahead. At the top of this janky section of trail we found a large white tent which was the CFI work camp.

Sign beginning the janky reroute

On the long traverse above treeline

Above the camp the trail mostly improved up to treeline where a long traversing ascent began. It remained rocky and rooty but easy to follow. The majority of the trail retained a certain steepness to it and was challenging most of the way.

The saddle is in sight

Wildflowers were quite wonderful

Remnants of the angel of Shavano seen on left

From about 12800 up to the saddle at 13500 the climb became even steeper on a loose scree meandering trail. This would be a prime area for a reroute to Shavano's upper summit slope. The winds picked up on the saddle but weren't quite as bad as we had encountered on Huron on the day before.

On the saddle, with another 700 feet to go

The trail above the saddle became very braided with several options to take and we witnessed people on these various routes. None of them were difficult and the approach to the summit the typical Sawatch approach of easy class 2 rock scrambling on patchy dirt trail segments to the top.

No clear path to the summit above treeline

Once atop Shavano we spent time enjoying the summit and then began contemplating the question of Tabeguache. I was fairly certain I would be a no wanting to save my legs for my race on Saturday in Leadville. I was also nursing soreness in my calves which made the decision all the more easy for me. Luke and Seth were both feeling pretty worked from the ascent up Shavano and yesterday's effort on Huron. David eventually convinced both lending to a bit of summit fever to go for Tabeguache. They set out while I made myself comfortable atop Shavano. I knew I was in for a good 2-hour wait on the summit. I figured, hopefully, it would add to my acclimatizing efforts for the week.

I was pleasantly surprised with the views on Shavano and they reminded me of the similar views I saw from Mount Ouray in 2023. These peaks sit so close to the center of the state you can see peaks from practically every range in the state. We could see clearly down to the Great Sand Dunes and the Blanca Group. Quite amazing!

Looking northeast towards Buena Vista

South end of the Arkansas River Valley with Salida and Poncha Springs in view

David, Luke and Seth had a good hike over to Tabeguache. There were some small snowfields near its summit but they were avoidable. They took just over an hour each way.

Looking over to Tabeguache

Small dots of David, Luke and Seth in view at bottom of snowfield

Looking north at the Sawatch

They made it to the summit of Tabeguache

Marmot friends near the summit of Shavano

When the others returned from Tabeguache they looked pretty good and not too tired out. I was ready to roll and we set off for the trailhead without much delay. The hike out was lengthy and became mostly a grunt once we got down into treeline.

I have a track and waypoints from the activity all contained in the embedded Google Map. Check it out and use at your own risk.

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