Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  05/06/2007
Date Climbed:   05/05/2007
Author:  Kevin Baker
 Getting Whipped by the Angel of Shavano  

Mt Shavano (14229‘)-CO Rank 17
via the Angel of Shavano
7 miles RT, 4380‘ gain
Participants: Jim & Karen Ohl, Jon Kark, and Kevin Baker

The intentions for this weekend were to introduce a couple my wife and I met a couple months ago to the 14ers on Quandary. With the forecast looking dreary, we decided to postpone those plans as we didn‘t want them to have a bad experience. Since Jim still needed to do Shavano and Tabeguache and I still haven‘t done the Angel of Shavano route, we decided on Shav and Tab with me heading over to the top 200 13er nearby if the weather held. The 13er ended up being a pipe dream on this day. Jim and Karen‘s friend Jon Kark from their church would join us.

We got off to a 6:22am start from the new Blank Gulch trailhead at 9760‘ under overcast skies and 28 degrees. The forecast was calling for a 90% chance of snow, but I has hoping it would be light. As we signed in, we noticed the group from the day before took 9 hrs just to do Shavano. Surely it wouldn‘t take that long! The trail was dry until around 10500‘ and the snow beyond that was hard enough to walk on w/o snowshoes other than some occassional postholes. With the cloud cover, we were hoping it wouldn‘t be too soft later in the day.

We made excellent time to the prominent switchback at 11300‘ where we left the trail and bushwacked a short distance to treeline. Here we took a break and put on our snowshoes as there was a couple inches of fresh powder on top of a firm layer of snow.


It looked like conditions were going to be great on the Angel.


The sun came out from time to time early on, and the weather was looking promising for the day.


That‘s why I rarely cancel a hike because of the forecast unless it looks real serious. We donned our crampons at the base of the Angel and cached our snowshoes, plotting a waypoint in case the snow got heavier. You could probably easily go up the Angel with poles and snowshoes as it doesn‘t get steeper than 35 degrees, but we felt crampons would be more efficient. Karen led the way with the duck walk straight up the slope, while the rest of us cut switchbacks.


I thought we would cruise up the slope in no time, but that wasn‘t the case. We took the right arm of the Angel as it looked like firm snow covered the talus all the way to the summit.

About halfway up the right arm, I headed left as it looked like I could hit the ridge to the summit quicker. Time seemed to stand still for the last hour to the summit as progress was very slow. I still had full intentions of doing the 13er as well until a few hundred feet below the summit when I bonked. It looked like everybody else was bonking too as every time I was resting so were they! 10 steps, pant, pant, pant. I feel like a flatlander doing his first 14er! It must have been because I only slept 3 hours the night before and ate only 4 fig bars, a small Milky Way, and 2 pieces of cheese all day. It‘s hard for the body to perform on that! Mama said there would be days like these. I pretty much wrote off doing the 13er when it took me 36 minutes to do the last 400‘ vertical. We staggered on the summit at 12:13. Jim was cool with passing on Tab. I guess I would have went if he did, but it would have been a brutal slog going back over Shavano!

The main reason I wanted to do this hike was the long glissade down the Angel. This was probably the third longest continous glissade I have done next to Rainier‘s Interglacier and Littly Italy on Pikes. We left the summit at 1pm and dropped down about 100‘ among the snowy talus until we found some short snowfields to glissade, the same ones I toiled up. We regrouped where Jon ditched his pack and then had an exhilirating glissade down the right arm. There were patches of icy snow that really picked up your speed, but there was plenty of powder to keep things under control. The run down the body of the Angel was awesome with powder spewing in my face. I had to put on the goggles to see where I was going. I got some video of Karen glissading down.

We glissaded probably a total of about 1500‘ in a few minutes, so the long slog was worth it.


The snow really began to come down on the hike out, but visibility was still good. The postholing on the way down was not enough to warrant snowshoes as the snow was still fairly firm. We arrived back at the car at 3:48 and all of us were pretty well spent. All of us were glad we didn‘t extend the hike or this would have been real tough. I hope I do better on the Y on Pikes next week!

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