| Tabeguache via Angel of Shavano
Shavano and Tabahoochy
7 June 2008
As of 7 June the conditions of the Angel are as follows: Body is in, Left arm is fairly good, head ends short of the saddle, Right arm had a thin and shallow trail nearly continuous to the saddle but will be gone with 2 or 3 more warm days.
Start Time: 0545
Reached Angel at about 0800
Reached Shavano Summit at 1130
1 hr. more for Traverse to Tab and 1 hr. for return to Shavano summit.
Left Shavano summit at 1230 and returned via Angel Glissade to camp at 2:30pm
My friend Justin and I had just recently done Blanca and Ellingwood (see trip report earlier this week) and were planning one more hike before he had to go home (back to Phoenix, AZ). I had suggested that we tackle Shavano and Tab because I had been unsuccessful at the traverse last year due to weather and didn't want to have to get over to Tab on my own later this summer. We were already tired from Blanca and Ellingwood earlier this week and thus we knew this one would be tough. We enlisted the company of Crazydiamond80 who was also kind enough to drive to the trail head.
The drive was largely uneventful accept for the amazing views of the Arkansas river nearin it's banks. If you like river rapids…it seems now would be a good time!
We arrived on Friday evening at the Blank Gulch trailhead. It was warm and windy and we knew that the howling wind we heard through the trees was probably amplified a 1000 times at higher altitude. We cooked up a spread that would make anyone proud including campfire Fajitas with all the fixin's and a this time we remembered to bring a good Chocolate Stout to wash it down with.
We went to sleep around 10pm…at least we tried. I was up all night listening to the wind.
We woke up on Saturday morning at 5am and were hiking by 5:45. We brought our snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, and plenty of layers because we knew the wind would be tough. We all brought 4 Liters of water, expect for Justin who brought 5 liters (he's from Phoenix and thus has been focusing on drinking enough at altitude).
The first part of the trail is really scenic as it winds through the Aspen grotto
but after about 5 minutes of flat, you turn left and head straight up hill on a trail that is currently well worn and easy to follow. This continues on for quite a while until you get to the stream crossing. The trail gets a little harder to follow here but basically goes up the stream for a bit an then parallels on the Left, then crosses the stream, then more parallel on the left. We came across some very friendly birds!
can you find the trail in this phot?
Thank goodness for GPS, it saved us some time. Just as described in Roach, at 11250' we left the trail skirting the bottom of a boulder field
to enter the drainage that would take us to the Angel. We stayed to the right of the drainage and had nearly NO snow. Several folks stayed more to the center or left of the drainage and apparently were in post-hole hell. Stay right if you go and skirt up along the right side of the river draw.
Once out of the trees, we were on hard snow.
The Angel is in!
The snow had melted the day before, refrozen overnight and had a nice solid feel with a crusty ice layer on top. This normally would be great but because of the solid 35-40mph sustained winds blowing down the Angel, every step you took, created a storm of ice bullets for the people below. The people above us were creating this ice storm for us and it really sucked! We didn't bring helmets as we knew the Angel was tame and there really is no rock fall hazard BUT Justin got hit in the arm with a sizeable ice chunk that he say's "hurt like hell!"
We made quick work of the Angel, and turned right towards the right arm. The arm was very thin (left to right) and shallow but gave us passage to within a 100 feet of the saddle. We removed our crampons, and headed up to the summit of Shavano. This is definitely the way to go as the party's that stayed on the main trail or who ascended the Angel's left Arm were treated to some wind blasting across the saddle to the summit. We were nearly completely sheltered and only had the occasional gust. We were all tired at this point and it was slow going but we summited at about 1130 to a moderate wind, warm and clear summit. If you duck below the rocks the wind was a non-issue.
We had sandwiches, I consumed my standard 14er summit Dole fruit cup and then we eye'd our traverse over to Tabeguache.
There was snow up to the summit but we were so close, the weather was perfect and even the wind seemed to die down. We quickly descended and crossed the snow filled saddle between Tab and Shavano. The snow was hard in the saddle and didn't require us to don crampons.
Once across the saddle our choices were to posthole up mashed potato snow or to skirt on the rocks just left of the remaining snowfield that led to the summit.
We stayed on rocks and with one final step you abruptly end right at the summit, it was actually quite refreshing to have a mountain finish like that!
We stayed for some time enjoying the windless summit and lamenting on how there could be so much wind on Shavano and practically nothing over here on Tabeguache! We also enjoyed the beautiful view of the exposureless ridge we took to get here.
We took some great photo's and then made quick work of the descent and ascent back over to Shavano. When we arrived back on Shavano, Jim's girlfriend Kristy was waiting as she had summited a short time after us.
It took us 1 hour to get to Tab and one more hour to return to Shavano. We moved fairly quick and thus I would think you need to leave yourself at least 2 hours for the cross to Tabeguache and back.
We rested for a good while on the summit of Shavano listening to people talk about the 70mph winds on Shavano's saddle. Now, I wasn't there and thus won't call anyone out on this, but I'd be hard pressed to believe they were more than about 40mph sustained…but for the inexperienced…I can see how that might feel like 70mph. We had some 70mph gusts a few months back on our ascent of Mt Lady Washington (see my trip report) and it knocked us on our ass…it wasn't that bad on Shavano yesterday. One nice thing was that we glissaded down the Angel with a solid tail wind! The snow in the angel was now mashed potatoes and it helped to make for a controlled glissade. My GPS had my max speed at 10 mph! Here's a nice pick of the glissade we just finished.
Worth noting was that there was a huge snowball that had formed from someone glissading earlier. With the snow conditions as they were, a small snowball sent down the Angel could have turned into a bit of a problem for the unsuspecting at the bottom.
We returned home largely via the same route we took earlier to get up, and that was by skirting the northern side of the drainage. We prematurely headed north for the trail and found ourselves in some steep woods but were able to self correct and quickly rejoined the trail. Our pace down was sharp, and we arrived back at the car around 2:30pm.
Thanks Jim and Justin for a great hike. Kristy, congrats on summiting on this windy day! Beth, sorry you couldn't be there.
The total day was 10.1 miles and I have to say honestly, that I haven't been this tired since returning to my car following the north face ascent of Democrat or perhaps the Belford/Oxford duo. This one beat up on me today! But we are back, wiser, and happier. Now, has anyone seen my vicoden?
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):