| Skiing the Angel
Since the skiing was awesome and the Blank Gulch Trailhead is now open, I wanted to let everyone know about it.
Driving over to Buena Vista we were unsure which trailhead to go to, since all previous TR‘s this year started from the Angel TH.
The lack of any low elevation snow caused us to head for Blank Gulch (Shav/Tab TH), wondering the whole way how it could possibly be closed. We saw how when we reached Placer Creek. Three guys were parked there, and were getting ready to head up the trail when we arrived. They said they couldn‘t get their 2WD car through the snow drift. I had a look, and decided the Explorer could make it. We gave the other three a lift, and made it to the TH with no problem (later in the day a Good Samaritan shoveled out one lane through the drift, and the road is now in great shape for any vehicle).
We started up the very dry trail with AT boots on our feet, and AT skis on our packs (we love our Dynafit bindings... used them all winter for ALL skiing).
As we climbed we finally encountered increasing amounts of snow (and postholes!). We tried to tread lightly to stay on top of the still-frozen snow, and were mostly successful.
It eventually seemed like the snow would be continuous through the woods, and we put on our skis at about 11,300 feet. Several minutes of meandering through the trees led us to an open area at the base of the Angel.
We skinned up until the slope steepened in the Angel‘s body. The surface was softening somewhat, but only about an inch deep, so skinning became difficult. We put the skis back on our packs and kicked steps up the rest of the way, and up the Angel‘s right arm (climber‘s right).
The snow ended below the ridge, and we decided to leave our skis there and continue to the summit. There was more snow on the upper East Ridge below the summit, but we didn‘t know how much rock was in between. In hindsight, it would have been nice to take the skis further, but there is NO way to ski directly off the summit.
Some summit shots:
We glissaded and hiked back down to our skis, then began the really fun part of the climb.
We skied down through the trees as long as possible, but unfortunately we eventually had to put the skis back on the packs. Periodically postholing (some deep!) was not fun, but it really was a great climb... and late May skiing is always worth the effort!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):