Tabeguache Peak
Descent Route: North Side Gully
Tabeguache Peak
April 24, 2006
North Face Gully

As I mentioned in my Mt. Antero trip report, we had spied a line on the north side of Tabeguache Peak that went clean from the summit. Until I noticed this line, I was pretty sure that this peak, and its close neighbor, Mt. Shavano, held little or no snow for skiing form the summit. But to our surprise, we found this line and decided to give it ago. The only drawback to skiing this side of the mountain is the long approach, over fourteen miles round-trip, and well over 5000 feet of elevation gain. After leaving the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, we drove to the Brown?s Creek trailhead, parked the
RV and truck, and got ready for a 3:00 a.m. wake up call.

We are getting a nice little routine going in the RV. Two people cook, and the other two clean. The coffee maker is prepared the night before, and the first person up turns it on. We are loaded with tons of great food, and after a hearty breakfast of granola, yogurt, bananas, and juice, we hit the trail at 4:30 a.m. This part of the Sawatch Range had a very light snowpack this season, and most of that has melted out below tree line already. We were able to hike in our street shoes for five miles up to Brown?s Lake, where we stopped for breakfast burritos and a nice break. Relaxing in a meadow besides the lake, we stared up at our objective, Tabeguache Peak (pronounced Tab- A- Wash), rising almost 3000? vertical above us. The line to the summit was very straightforward and direct, requiring only quad strength and endurance. I led the way up the beginning of the couloir, but as soon as I paused for a breather, Nick took over and basically ran the next 2000? to the top. The fitness that he is getting on this fourteener project should serve him extremely well when he arrives on Denali in two weeks. Will, Christian, and I made the summit feeling strong and alive. There was not a breath of wind today, a rare meteorological occurrence on a fourteener. Since we were skiing a north facing aspect, we lounged around, waiting for the sun to climb higher in the sky and soften up the lower portion of our ski line. These casual summit experiences are among my favorite moments of this project, and I savor every minute of them.

When it was finally time to ski, we did so with a relaxed demeanor. The line was easy and we enjoyed some grippy, Styrofoam snow for 2000?, stopping only to take a few photos in a relatively unphotogenic line. Back at our meadow, we ate fat sandwiches, drank some Red Bulls and pondered the long walk back out to the RV. Fortunately we had all brought our iPods today, so it made the almost three hour walk out go that much faster. I arrived back at the trailhead and the comforts of the RV at 3:00 p.m. ten and a half hours after setting out for Tabeguache. As a group we were all pretty worn out after today?s mission, and I decided that we would take a rest day tomorrow. I have now skied five peaks in the last six days, and definitely do not want to feel a burnout coming on. Here is a quick statistic: On these last five fourteeners, I have climbed and skied over 50 miles and almost 24,000 vertical feet. Beats doing it on a Stairmaster for sure!

So as I write this we are parked in an RV Park in Gunnison, enjoying a leisurely day off. I must admit it?s my first RV Park ?experience?, and we are by far the youngest folks here in the park. The entire place had wireless internet, so I have had the chance to update this website, catch up on emails, and check the weather forecast. Our next objective is Handies Peak, Wetterhorn, and Uncompahgre, outside of Lake City. I am more than half way to my goal now, and having the time of my life doing it. Living on the road, skiing peaks every day with great friends, and visiting new places while doing it is a real pleasure. I feel very lucky to be doing what I?m doing.

Thanks for reading,

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