| May on the Angel of Shavano
• Total Distance: 7.5mi
• Elevation Gain: 4,600ft
• Trailhead Time: 5:30am
• Summit time: 10:30am
• Completion Time: 2:45am
• Total Time: 9 hours
More pictures are available here.
The weather was surprisingly nice. We were actually able to sleep out on the ground, no tents, the night before. Temperatures stayed relatively warm all day long, yet stiff enough to keep postholing to a minimum, and allow the angel to stay frozen. Winds were on and off all day, but not very strong. And, in a very unusual Colorado day, clouds held out ALL DAY long! That was very pleasant.
There had been a lot of talk on the forums about climbing on this weekend, so I popped open a thread to get something going for the 9th. Seemed like everyone was up for taking on the Angel of Shavano, so we made plans and headed up. I ran over to REI and grabbed a sleeping pad and took my dad's old sleeping bag and headed for the trailhead. At about 10 that night, (Shawn) Sstrauss, Andrew, and Kiefer rolled in and we cornered off a section of the trailhead for sleeping. The night was calm and moon was VERY bright. I got an ok night sleep, Shawn and Andrew slept well, and Kiefer didn't sleep at all… which helped level the experience level out a bit… hah.
Morning came a bit too abruptly with the arrival of some loud hikers in a truck. We reluctantly de-bagged and dressed for the climb ahead. Within a short time, we were ready.
The first section of the hike was really nice and didn't involve much work or thinking. My usual bad luck kept up, as my pack refused to cooperate with my back. At one point, while putting the pack on my back, the upper section detached itself and ended up a ways down the path. By the time we neared treeline, I was significantly behind the group.
Thankfully, some unfrozen snow held up the faster portion of the group, who, weighing more than I did, continued to sink in. After catching up, we bushwhacked through trails that really didn't exist up into the center basin and the famous Angel of Shavano.
Clouds over Salida
Kiefer below the angel
Shawn and the Angel of Shavano
The views started to get much better from our lofty perspective, and the angel looked even more enjoyable. We made our approach to the field before tossing on crampons and snatching our ice axes for the trip up.
Looking down from the base of the angel
Looking up at Kiefer, Shawn, and Andrew on the angel
I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively gentle grade of the angel, and really enjoyed the ascent up the angel's body and right arm. At the junction between the body and the arm, I took some time to call home, figuring that being in such a recognizable position would allow me to communicate with home exactly where I was.
The winds started to pick up as I topped out of the right arm and made my slow way to the summit. The final summit section is a lot steeper than I expected, and, being one of the first hikes of the season, I was in much worse shape than I had anticipated and had some severe muscle cramps and pains as I finally topped out.
Looking at the summit from the top of the angel
The view from the top was, of course, spectacular. Shavano is one of the few mountains I can remember where you get absolutely no preview of the view until you reach the summit.
VERY good view from the summit
You know it's a clear day when you have a view of almost the whole Sangre de Cristo Range from the southern end of the Sawatch mountains! The Crestone group, Kit Carson, and Challenger are easily visible after zooming in. Kit Carson and Challenger are prominently visible in this shot on the south end.
The other half of the group was already on their way to Tabeguache and was keeping well ahead of me. I decided to head towards the second peak, with no intention to summit. The wind on that ridge was even worse, but the hike still pleasant.
Shawn glissading down off of Tabeguache
Shavano from Tabeguach (picture by Kiefer)
I returned back to Shav, chatted with Baumgara for a bit, and then started down.
The descent was, as always, fast but pleasant. I waited out for the rest of the group right above the arm on the angel and enjoyed a long rest. Once they caught up, we made fast work of the descent down the angel – covering quite a lot of altitude in a 15 minute period.
Picture from Kiefer: Me at the base of the angel after a decent glissade.
The final section back through the trees was a fun adventure. After postholing for a short while, we spent some time heading down in search of the path – it is quite easy to lose, especially with any snow cover. After finding it, it was a beautiful hike back to the cars, ending a great day in the Sawatch Mountains.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):