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Angel of Shavano?

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Angel of Shavano?

Postby DKELLY » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:10 am

Hey there,

I started climbing 14ers this summer and was hoping to continue my hiking into the winter while back from school. I am not looking for a ski trip, but just a solid (snowshoe?) winter climb. I was looking at the "Angel of Shavano" route. I am wondering if anyone could help me figure out which route/peak would be best, some ideas on gear, snow conditions, and such. I have been reading up on several routes, but was hoping to hear some personal experience. Thanks!!
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby Yikes » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:59 am

Shavano probably isn't the best "starter" winter 14er. Mostly because of the length and the lack of other hikers on the route in winter. I personally would head up to the windblown east ridge and avoid the angel. Supposedly it isn't a huge avy danger, but I wouldn't take the risk.

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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby CO Native » Mon Dec 27, 2010 6:54 pm

Here are a couple of lists that I put together regarding gear and clothing for winter.
Gear list - Second from the last section
Clothing - Last section.

Bill has also put one together here:
Bill's list

Before any winter hike I'd also highly recommend taking at least a full day avalanche awareness class. I'd also suggest that you learn to use an ice axe instinctively before putting yourself in a situation where you might need one.

Scott Patterson wrote a great article that should help you pick the winter peak that's best for you. You can find it here.

I use two websites to get an idea of snow conditions before I head out. One is the CAIC website, and the other is the NOAA site (one of many useful ones linked). However this is just to get an idea, I then also pay attention to the weather patterns and once out on the mountain I apply knowledge learned from experience, training, and guidance learned from more experienced mountaineers.

I've done the Angel of Shavano route in the winter unsuccessfully. The route is much longer in the winter as snow blocks the road far lower than the trailhead. Conditions on the Angel itself don't tend to have extremely high avalanche risk, however a couple of slopes that feed into that couloir do. When the route is in good shape the line is nice as you can do a direct steep snow ascent from just above treeline to the summit. As an alternative with less avalanche risk you can stick to the summer route until you're on the east ridge and then just take that to the summit. Routefinding in winter is a lot different in the summer, you have to adapt your route to the conditions and odds are there isn't going to be a trail of any sort to follow except on the more popular winter 14ers like Quandary and Bierstadt. However even on those you have to be prepared as winter winds can erase even the most well worn path in a matter of minutes.

One other thing to keep in mind is how short the days are in the winter. Be prepared to start and finish in the dark. Prepared meaning you can navigate in the dark, you can stay warm as the temperatures plummet, and you have adequate illumination (including extra batteries).
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby Dex » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:10 pm

Yikes wrote:Shavano probably isn't the best "starter" winter 14er. Mostly because of the length and the lack of other hikers on the route in winter. I personally would head up to the windblown east ridge and avoid the angel. Supposedly it isn't a huge avy danger, but I wouldn't take the risk.


I'd add that route finding is difficult under the tree line.

Look into Yale from Denny Creek, standard route.
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby DKELLY » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:46 pm

Awesome thanks for the input! Thanks co native for the links. I think we are looking into planning a go at Mt. Yale from Denny Creek is what it looks like...
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby CO Native » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:18 pm

I've done that route in the winter as well, though I also failed on that attempt. Yes I have actually successfully climbed some in the winter, but I've had a number of failures in the winter as well. Winter ascents can be many times harder if you have to spend much time breaking trail.

Scroll to the bottom of this webpage and you can see the photos I took on that trip.
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby illegal_smile » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:57 pm

Just came back from a brutal long day (01/02) near Shavano. Did not summit. We hiked up east ridge, skinned up as far as we could and put the skis on the back. Terribly long day which ended up with us skinng down sketchy sastrugi across slide paths and my skis essentially need new bases now but it was the quickest/safest way down. Oh and our climb down with skis (we came down what we thought would be quicker) with the 45+mph gusts was pretty misearble. Much of everything is wind blown there especially the ridges so hiking ridges is pretty uneventful. Where there was loaded snow whumping was heard as well as possibly slides or blasting from Monarch (???). I won't say it will be easy but don't let the "approach" scare you off, it's the easiest part of the whole day :)

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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby TeamDino5280 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am

Yale sounds like a great option for a winter warmer, I was wondering though... CDOT and and Google maps says that CO rd 306 which accesses the Denny Creek Trailhead is closed in the winter. Am I reading this wrong or is there another way?
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Re: Angel of Shavano?

Postby Yikes » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:38 am

TeamDino5280 wrote:Yale sounds like a great option for a winter warmer, I was wondering though... CDOT and and Google maps says that CO rd 306 which accesses the Denny Creek Trailhead is closed in the winter. Am I reading this wrong or is there another way?


The last few years, the hwy was closed at Avalanche TH and you couldn't drive to Denny Creek. I believe in previous years they plowed to Denny Creek TH. I don't know if they change that year to year, or are going to keep with the Avalanche TH closure for the forseeable future. The road is usually snow packed with some icy spots once you get past the hot springs.

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