Thursday, June 4, 2009

Almost Famous

The 2009 Summit County Bike guide is out on newsstands across the county. You can see a digital version HERE. Check out page A40 for a familiar face. This shot was taken a couple years ago during a photo shoot for the 2007 Bike Guide cover.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ascent of Mt Shavano

See photos from our trip HERE
See a video compilation from our hike HERE

It's the start of hiking season again! So, on Saturday we headed South West to the Sawatch Range near Salida and Buena Vista, CO to hike Mt. Shavano (a) (14,229'). It's about a 3.5 hour drive with some great scenery ranging from suburbs, to farms and mountain passes to free range high altitude plains. The weather was a bit suspect, with thunderclouds rolling in and out of the mountains. As we drove into the Buena Vista valley, we could see the Collegiate Peaks in the Northernmost point of the Sawatch range across the plains. The clouds surrounding the peak of Mt. Shavano (b) did not look very inviting, but we hoped for the best and continued the drive along a dirt road to the trailhead.

After gearing up in the parking lot, we headed out on to the Colorado Trail for a short distance and then onto the Mt. Savano trail for about an hour hike (3/4 mi.) up some steep terrain to a perfect camping spot. We enjoyed a camp meal of Mountain House mac and cheese and a game of Farkel by the camp fire and then headed to bed.

Sunday started early, 4:30 a.m.! It was still dark as we ate a hearty oatmeal breakfast and packed up camp. We left our large packs at camp and headed up the mountain with day packs as the sun rose. The trail provided numerous great views of the Southern Sawatch range and the blue skies were very promising, however the weather in Colorado can turn on a dime at elevation, so we kept an eye out for incoming storms. We hit tree line at about 11,700' and could then see most of our trail up to the saddle, still covered with snow. Fortunately the snow was firm so we did not have to worry about the agony of postholing on our way up. There were about seven others behind us on the trail, but due to our campsite in on the trail and early rising, we were pretty much alone till we hit the summit.

The last climb off the saddle was a tough one, with a steep grade and deeper snow. As we hit the top, one other gentleman joined us. And soon seven others. Usually you can see anywhere from 40 to 60 or more people on the trail of a 14er, but due to the early season timing, we were able to enjoy the mostly solitude trip.

It took us four hours to ascend about 3,600'. The views from the top were amazing. I've been up here before, about six years ago. Mt. Shavano was my first 14er. This was Melissa's first time up Mt. Shavano, so she now has eight under her belt, while I stayed at nine (11 total ascents with two doubles). There are 54 14ers in Colorado, so we still have a ways to go.

There is an option of traversing along the ridge and down to another ridge that leads up to Tabeguache Peak (pronounced "tab-uh-wash," with the accent on the first syllable) at 14,155'. We pondered over heading that way to bag another peak, but the clouds were starting to grow in size and were very dark. Our decision to head back down was a good once, since it started to get socked in and hail as we hit tree line again.

The descent was uneventful besides the bit of hail, and we were glad to arrive back at camp. However, we now had to load back up with all our overnight gear and hike out the last mile. We hit the car with a total round trip time of seven hours and fourty five minutes, not bad for our first 14er of the season.

Which one will be next. Evans, Sherman, Lincoln? Keep your eyes on to see where we head to next!

Map of trail

See photos and video from our trip HERE
See a video compilation from our hike HERE