Monday, 11 July 2011

Climbing Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak

This past Saturday, N and I hiked two 14ers, Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak. For N, this was his 4th ascent of Mt Shavano and 2nd ascent of Tabeguache. It was my first for both.

We camped that night and started early the next morning. The wake-up wasn't too good for two reasons.  First, I woke up around 3 or so with one side of my body -- the side most inside my sleeping bag -- drenched. Being mostly asleep, I decided that I was just too hot in the sleeping bag and was sweating and so for the next 30 minutes or so tried variations on not waking up/moving the sleeping bag around. Then at some point I woke up enough to realize that if I was actually sweating that much, then something was wrong... as my sleeping bag and pillow were also soaked on that side. Some very tired investigation later, I realized that I had fallen asleep on my open camelbak hose, which had subsequently leaked. So that wasn't cool. I managed to shift around to get somewhat comfortable and away from the water, but then about 10 minutes later, some of the other people camping at the trailhead got up, including an incredibly loud group of girls who started shrieking at top volume. So at 4:30 am or thereabouts we got up and headed up the trail.

Like every hike I have been on in the Sawatch Range, there is a long portion of the hike below treeline. These two mountains are the furthest south in the Sawatch, and we were starting from the south/east, so the treeline extended very high up the mountain -- perhaps to 12,000 ft or so. 

The trees started to thin as the sun rose fully, giving us spectacular views. 

We stopped at treeline for a snack and I took a picture of these lovely pine cones and flowers. I think that the yellow ones are hollygrape flowers. 

After clearing treeline, it was a slow and steady hike up to a saddle before the final summit push.

Up on the summit of Mt Shavano, we got to see some nice wildlife. 

This little pika was terribly friendly and climbed up on my boot in search of my crackers. But we didn't feed him.

N on the summit of Shavano. Achievement?

Lovely view from the summit.

Here I am on the summit of Shavano (14,229 ft).

We left Shavano and hiked slightly to the north/west, down a boulder field and to a saddle, before turning and heading up Tabeguache Peak (14,155 ft). Here we are on the summit of that. 

We spent a long time on the summit of Tabeguache. We met several friendly people and ate some lunch. As we were eating, I asked N about his app, and the one guy left on the summit overheard us and started fanboying all over N, to the point that he had me take a picture of them. It was pretty adorable. 

The views from Tabeguache remind me of the Arcade Fire song, "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)":
Mountains beyond mountains/and there's no end in sight

A storm to the south.

Looking towards nearby 14er, Mt Antero (14,269 ft).

Looking back towards the summit of Shavano.

The return from Tabeguache on this particular route takes you back over the summit of Shavano. I was pretty tired at this point, but once we got to the top it was great to see how once people left (we were the only ones on both summits for some time), animals came back. Here's a juvenile mountain goat. 

This fat creature is a marmot.

Then we saw the storms that had been threatening all day start to look more serious and decided to get down from the summit, where we were forming natural lightning rods. 

But first I took a picture of this marmot as he cocked his head at us in wonder.

We descended to treeline just as it started to rain. 

Rain is good for the forest though, and the forest was full of beautiful flowers.

The Colorado state flower, the columbine.

New buds on a pine tree.

Lush waterfalls (and overly-friendly mosquito inhabitants).

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Saturday, July 2 -- St Mary's Glacier again, and J and C's wedding

Just a few pictures from our time on St Mary's Glacier -- I got a chance to try out using prusiks to try to rescue myself from our "crevasse", ie, from hanging over the cornice of the glacier. They are a system of ropes, one at your waist and one each for your feet, that you use to step and pull yourself up a rope and hopefully out of trouble. In practice it is quite tiring to do, especially on the hands as you twist the ropes and pull yourself up, but it is remarkably efficient and also pretty satisfying to be able to pull yourself up. The major problem is that the rope itself, with the weight of the climber and the movement on the rope, sinks down into the surface of the snow very badly, so that as you near the top it becomes quite difficult to get those final few feet up the ledge. Luckily B and R wanted to try pulling me up the ledge, so I got to prusik up the easier part twice and then they pulled me up the final few feet.  

After that we rushed home and got read for J and C's wedding. We were super excited for the wedding because we totally love weddings (mostly the dancing). Here's N being super excited!

The wedding was on a farm outside of Boulder. The farm provided us with a marvelous sense of isolation -- the only reminder of civilization was a small plane towing a glider that for some reason buzzed the wedding a few times. 

The farm also had some occupants, notably some really weird looking chickens (not these guys, but some other ones), and some pygmy goats. We went to have a look at them but that was where we first started encountering mosquitoes, so we got out of there. 

Some big thunderheads rolled out to the east, but they never threatened rain on the wedding.

Team Awesome at our table.

The wedding was very beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, I must say. Unfortunately 1 million mosquitoes crashed the party and around dusk it became nearly unbearable for about a half hour. Everyone was in a frenzied search for Off! and when that ran out there was some terrible organic shit that didn't really work but everyone went for that too. Luckily once it got dark things were fine.

Also, there were fake mustaches.

Following the usual eating and drinking festivities, the drinking continued, with dancing, natch. The playlist was great and a great time was had by all (or at least, both of us).

More of our friends should get married so we can do this more often. Just saying.