Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  04/22/2008
Modified:  05/06/2014
Date Climbed:   04/19/2008
Author:  USAKeller
Additional Members:   comin2getcha, Carl, ajkagy, krz2fer, dustj
 Mt. Shavano: (Angel of Shavano)- Angel of Shavano TH   

Mt. Shavano: 1st Summit Ski Descent!

Date: April 19, 2008
Team: ajkagy, krz2fer, comin2getcha, Carl, USAKeller, dustj, and Tom (Carl's friend)
Route: Angel of Shavano from Angel of Shavano TH ascent, East Slopes to Angel of Shavano ski descent
Total mileage: ~8.7 miles
Total elevation gain: ~5,100ft.; 4,500ft. vertical skied
Total time out (including stop time): ~12hrs. 30min.

Our climbing route (red), and ski route (yellow), taken from U.S. 285:

Map and route profile:

Images by Tom and ajkagy

comin2getcha and I drove down Friday night, met krz2fer and ajkagy at the Angel of Shavano Trailhead, and camped there. We woke up at 4:15am, with a goal of being on trail by 5:00am. We met Carl, Tom, and dustj at the trailhead that morning, did some quick beacon checks, and started up the Colorado Trail at 5:40am. All of us brought skis, with the exception of krz2fer on snowshoes hauling his snowboard up on his back. The trail is mostly dry for the first 1- miles until it crests a small hill. From there, patches of snow became more frequent. Our plan was to take the Angel of Shavano Trail and traverse over to the Blank Gulch Trail (thanks for the suggestion, Bill and Jordan!).

First light shining through the aspen trees:

The trail is not well-marked and we ended up slightly off (just southwest) of the Angel of Shavano Trail. Tom was having quite a time post-holing, and we decided to put the skis/skins on at around 10,350ft. Continuing through the forest, we found our way to the Blank Gulch Trail and reached treeline shortly after. We grabbed a quick bite to eat here.

Our group taking a break just below a drainage. Left to right: comin2getcha, krz2fer, dustj, ajkagy, Tom, and Carl:

We started up the drainage just below the Angel, rounded a corner and saw her body, still filled in. Clear, sunny skies and little wind up to this point.

Left to right: USAKeller, comin2getcha, dustj, ajkagy, Carl, and krz2fer skinning up the drainage, with the Angel's body behind:

Carl, dustj, ajkagy, and comin2getcha entering the lower part of the body:

The lower part of the body to be a pleasant skin; it got a little steeper and we found it most beneficial to zig-zag up climber's right side of the body. We aimed for the small patch of rocks in the upper half of the body where it meets the right wing (marked by the red arrow in the photo below) for another break point before heading up the right wing.

Another look at the Angel's body. We took a break at the small rock patch marked by the red arrow
before climbing up the right (east) arm in blue:

Carl, comin2getcha, and I decided to switch to bootpack and head up the right arm, while ajkagy stayed on skins. Tom was behind us and took off his skis too. krz2fer and dustj decided to head back down at this spot.

comin2getcha booting up the right arm:

comin2getcha and I found it easier to climb up the rocky terrain and slowly made our way over to the standard south ridge. The winds had picked up out of the southwest, but they were nothing that impeded our progress. We could see Carl and ajkagy each heading up their own lines to the summit above us (photo below).

This photos shows the various routes climbed up. comin2getcha and I took the South Ridge, marked in yellow. Carl stayed on the
upper East Slope (marked in red), and ajkagy climbed up the southeast side (marked in green):

ajkagy (center) climbing up the southeast face just below the summit:

comin2getcha just below the final summit pitch on the South Ridge (taken from ~14,050ft.).
Conditions are pretty dry on this side:


With intentions of hitting Tabeguache, Carl reached the summit first (although I'm not sure at what time), decided not to head over to Tabeguache. ajakgy meet him soon after. After a 45min. summit break, they started climbing down the East Slope to where continuous snow began and started skiing from about 50 yards below the summit. Lance and I reached the summit in 8hrs. 40min. (including all stops and food breaks, 7hrs. 35min. of moving time) at 2:20pm exhausted (temperature: 41deg., not factoring in windchill).

USAKeller, Carl, and comin2getcha on the summit of Mt. Shavano:

We were so tired, and the snow looked thinner than what Bill and Jcwhite had earlier in the week. But, the most exciting part was about to happen and we didn't haul up our skis up to the top for nothing! It was already pretty late, so we had a short break, and started back down at 2:45pm. I wanted my first summit ski descent more than anything, so Lance and I each touched the summit rock (the one I'm sitting on in the above photo) with a ski pole and started down.

comin2getcha leads the way off the sparse, but continuous-snow summit:

Me, negotiating my way off of the summit:

After a few side-slips, steps over rocks, and minor turns later, we found continuous sastrugi on the upper East Slope, and had some nice turns from there down to the right arm as seen in the photo below.

Snow conditions on the East Slope (taken from ~13,600ft.):

Carl skiing down the East Slope:

Carl told us via radio that he and ajkagy ran into a few dry spots in the right arm of the Angel. We found this to be true about half-way down the arm, yet still we opted not to take the skis off and ended up stepping over the rocky patches.

Just slightly above the first of a few dry patches in the east arm of the Angel:

Finally, we were on nice corn again...

ajakgy havin' his way down the arm:

Carltaking his turns:


comin2getcha and I still had to ski the body; we figured the rest of the group was down near (if not in) the trees. Still, we had nice corn to ski down...

dustj skiing the Angel's body earlier in the day:

comin2getcha in the body:

Yours Truly skiing the body:


Looking back at all of our turns (good day ) :

We skied down to treeline, and stayed skiers' right from where we came out of the trees on the way up, following our group's ski tracks. Of course by this time in the day, the snow was totally soft and sticky, and made for an unpleasant ski through the trees; it seemed as though snow-plowing was easier in some areas. The trail, however, did not look familiar to Lance or me on the way down. cdowdy was a few hundred feet below and kept us posted via radio where they were, and mentioned he thought they were too low. We took off our skis for the first time from the summit around 9,900ft., hiked down a short hill, and found ourselves to be on the actual Angel of Shavano Trail. We had a better feeling now. Intermittent patches of snow still were present along this trail (photo below).

Current (but typical) conditions of the Angel of Shavano Trail - broken patches of mashed potatoes:

Tom making his way back through the forest on his pontoons. This entailed maneuvering
around and through really soft snow, rocks, streams, and logs:


Skiing over plenty of rocks, logs, and grass, we finally removed the skis for the remainder of the trip at the hill we crested along the Colorado Trail earlier that morning. Everyone had left by the time Lance and I arrived back to the truck at 6:15pm. It took us 3hrs. 30min. to get back to the car from the summit, and at least of that time was devoted to navigating back through rotten snow in the forest. It was an extremely long day (longer than it should have been), but we were quite pleased grabbing our first 'official' summit ski descents, and thrilled to have that day complete. We all thought that this was a physically draining climb, but technically very straightforward. It was so nice to meet all of you and make new backcountry climbing/skiing partners. Great day boys!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice Job!
02/05/2011 00:22
Way to go guys! Looked like you had a great day up there. Wow, that east arm had a lot less snow than when we skied it last week. Looks like Shavano's narrow window for a continous ski has just about ended. Great report.


Very nice!
04/22/2008 21:02
Looks like May will be a ditch the board at the top of the body month...


04/22/2008 21:22
Excellent report and pics!


04/22/2008 21:23
Nice TR Caroline! Great job getting to summit I think I learned a valuable lesson about snowboarding: get a split board and save my energy. Rock on!


awesome report
04/23/2008 00:53
it was great skiing with you all! I‘d definitely be up for skiing more 14ers. Caroline, way to stick with skiing from the summit! I dropped down a hundred feet or so with Carl to where the snow was a bit more continuous. We were both super tired and running out of water after making the summit, so we decided to try and get down in a hurry...had a great time though!


Nice Caroline!
04/23/2008 01:07
looks like a great day! Congrats on your first ski descent of a 14er!


08/28/2008 00:37
Well done on your first ski descent! I just ditched my board this year on got back on skis...and had a LOT of fun doing it! Looking forward to skiing down some of these!


04/23/2008 22:24
Thanks Caroline for putting the TR together and once again congrats on the descent. It was great meeting all of you. I‘m hoping to get in a couple of 14ers before the end of May if any are interested.


Well Done!
11/30/2010 17:28
Congratulation's on your 1st ski descent!


nice work
11/30/2010 17:28
great weather and successful summit and descent, good stuff Caroline. I'll be lugging my Dynastars up there sunday, hopefully I can find your trail, thanks for the trip report. So much more fun and rewarding than skiing at a resort.


Thanks for your comments!
11/30/2010 17:28
It was a really fun albeit exhausting day. But, I'm looking forward to (hopefully) many more this spring with all of you. Thanks again everyone - I really appreciate it!

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