| Angel of Shavano with Ski Descent
After an unsuccessfull attempt on Shavano due to weather and snow conditions in late March, I decided to give it another try after seeing reports of great conditions on the Angel.
I drove to the Blank Gulch trailhead the previous night and somehow slept through my 3:30 am alarm. I wanted to get an early start to avoid having to climb the rapidly softening snow on the east-facing line that was sure to get baked by the snow and lead to some sketchy conditions. Luckily, I had also set one for 4:30 am that woke me up. I got on the Shavano trail at 5 am, and trekked up the gulch for about 1.5 miles, until reaching continuous snow where I was able to get on skis for the remainder of the trip through treeline.
Preparing to step into my AT set-up.
There is a decent trail to follow through treeline and quickly I got my first views of the Angel‘s body. I arrived at the base of the Angel coulior two hours after leaving the trailhead.
First view of the Angel from timberline.
I was able to skin about half way up the body, before I decided to strap the skis to my pack and continue up following a bootpack that had probably been set the day before. Unfortunately, this bootpack was set by somehow who either 1) has the widest, most duck-footed stance I‘ve ever seen, 2) or was drunk and swaying side to side with each step. So I decided to make my own bootpack the remainder of the way. Once at the top of the body, I decided to take the right (northern) arm for a more direct route to the summit.
View of the left arm, head, and right arm from the top of the body.
The bootpack up the right arm seemed to take forever, but I eventually reached the ridge at around 13,700 feet.
Looking up the remaining route to the summit of Shavano.
The snow from here to the summit was much softer than I expected and I was forced to lean forward and use my hands on several occasions to avoid 1-2‘ postholing on the steep pitch. Eventually I reached the summit at 9:30 am and only snapped a few pictures before heading down since the snow already seemed to be softening and in prime condition for a some great corn skiing.
The summit shot.
Sangre de Cristos.
Monarch Ski Area.
Skiing from the summit.
Skiing from the summit to reach the right arm of the Angel required some billy-goating over the many rocks, but fortunately my bases escaped serious damage. However, once negotiating some tight spaces, the snow was amazing spring corn. Although a bit grabby at times, I was able to rip fairly big turns and carry speed all the way to the end of the Angel coulior.
Picking a line through the rocks to reach the open turns that awaited below.
Looking down the right arm.
Looking down the body of the Angel. Other climbers can be seen to the skier‘s left of the snowfield.
Admiring my turns and stoked after a great descent.
I was able to ski through the trees quite far by following closely to the trail and linking some snow patches. The snow was very soft though and I was caught by some trap doors on several occasions. I saw some people attempting to snowshoe up the trail who looked absolutely miserable. Even with snowshoes they were sinking with each step. I must stress that because almost the entireity of this line is east-facing to get an early start. It will make the approach less cumbersome, and also decrease the chance of wet slides later in the day.
As in the morning, I had to hike out about 1.5 miles when the snow became to thin to ski anymore. I arrived back at the car at 11:30 am, for a roundtrip of 8 miles, 4430 feet (according to Roach) in 6.5 hours (4.5 up, 15 min of summit, 1.75 down).
On the drive out, I took some phots from the road to show the current conditions of the Angel. Both left and right arms are in great condition. If you‘ve been eyeing this route, do it now!
Zoomed in view of the Angel‘s top body, head and right arm route to the summit.
View from route 285.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):