| And the award for Windiest Peak goes to...
After a good work week and some extra adventures that came with it, my roomate Alan, his friend Brian and I headed up to the Blank Gulch trailhead from Gunnison on Thursday at 6:00PM. We hit the trailhead in daylight, put our pads and bags on the grass at the trailhead and munched on delicious organic foods until it was time to nap.
We did some yoga and slept from 10:00-2:00. At 2:00 the moon was bright, and we arose, stashed our sleeping materials in the car and left for the trailhead.
Being the only one to have done this peak before, I decided to lead and find our way up to the bottom of the Angel. The trail was easy for quite a ways, and then route finding became a nightmare. There were disappearing footprints that lead to nothing, there was post-holing, nasty brook crossings and plenty more things to help us get lost. We all agreed that we can't miss the Angel of Shavano, as it is a massive drainage that flows down Shavano's south south-east side. We looked at the topography on my Garmin GPS and headed in the drainages general direction.
Finally, we made it to what we called "base camp" where we dropped some unnecessary gear and made oatmeal for breakfast using a backpacking stove. As we snacked on oatmeal we watched the sunrise, and we got the first good look at the Angel.
A first look at the Angel when the sun came up
Sunrise and the Lights over Salida
We left our gear and headed for the Angel, which I was thrilled about the snow conditions, until I arrived.
The bootpack was strong, and the snow was still Ice (it was 6:15AM) and my two friends decided not to use crampons, Alan climbed the right arm of the Angel, Brian climbed the middle, and I climbed the left with my crampons on.
Dirty snow on the Angel
After an hour of great snow climbing, I made it to the saddle. Brian and Alan were on their way up the East side of Shavano taking their sweet time. Upon arriving at the saddle, I remembered exactly what made Shavano such a difficult mountain despite being one of the easiest 14ers in Colorado. THE WIND. We had read a forecast of winds 5-60 miles per hour, which wasn't a fluke, but the winds were definately closer to 60 miles per hour than 5.
The peak from the Saddle
I spent the next hour getting whipped around by the wind as I climbed the south side of Shavano. I made the summit by 8:30AM to find that Brian had been up there for 30 minutes and Alan was still on his way up. Then Alan showed up and we were a party again!
Alan near the summit
Alan and Brian on the Summit
One of life's finer things at the summit
We decided to act quickly and advance to our next plans, Alan and Brian elected to traverse to Tabeguache and Brian was going to snowboard from Tabeguache's summit to the saddle. I stayed behind as the wind had blown me into a rock and damaged my knee earlier.
A look at Brian and Alans Target, Tabeguache Peak, I stayed behind
My project when the snow melts, Jones Peak
I spent a total of 2 hours on the summit waiting for the other guys, the weather was perfect and the company was great. There were 6 parties that came up and joined me from time to time. One gentleman was going solo and he descended the angel on skis. There were two couples who followed him which were going to ski down as well. Then a group of two came and joined for some conversation and kept asking for some of my beer which I hadn't opened yet. Nonetheless, they were hilarious! As we were talking two groups of ten from a Buena Vista outfitting company showed up and so did Alan and Brian. The summit was very crowded. My party left and prepared our descent of the Angel.
A look down the route which was glissaded and skiied
I arrived at the saddle and glissaded down the wet snow until the bottom, this glissade was awesome minus the snow condition. If the snow was harder, this would have been perfect. I pulled out my camera and filmed Alan and Brians descent. We went back to "base camp" and hung out for a while until we headed down.
All three of us agreed that the descent would be significantly easier because we would be able to see the trail better wrong. The routefinding continued to anger us, even in daylight we were on the trail for three minutes and then we lost it, and we continued to lose it again. I beleive when the USFS or CFI comes in and clears the trees it will be much better, but all the fallen trees on the trail are still down.
Nonetheless, we didn't let poor routes, bad snow, knee injuries, and crowded summits ruin our day. We had a great hike and we thank everybody on the summit for the good conversation and company.
This was Alans First two 14ers
This was Brians Seventh and Eighth 14ers
This was a repeat of my eleventh 14er.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):