Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  11/21/2009
Date Climbed:   11/21/2009
Author:  rolo tomassi

 Mt shavano- south side, new route?  

Mt shavano- south ridge, (Tomassi aręte?).
red dots show the route I took
I parked at the angel of Shavano campground and walked about a mile up the road.
a warm start
The river has a mini-gorge and you need to get high enough to get around it. I left the road at a large dirt pull-off, walked down the slope and crossed the river.
Climbing through the talus was not as bad as I thought it was going to be and I made good time on the first 1000 vertical feet. At the first headwall I encountered I toyed with the notion of going straight up it and explored the face for a bit. It would involve some low 5th class and mostly friction on downsloping holds. As I was in my stiff boots I opted to go around this to the left.
In fact if anyone decides to try this route any time you encounter something you don't want to climb go to the left, do not ever go to the right.

After more scrambling and some talus I came to the first tower. I took an ascending traverse to the right, ending up in at a dead end. To the right was nothing but air and above me 3-5 5th class moves, which I could not see past. My curiosity got the best of me and I climbed up to have a look around. The ridgeline becomes about 2-4 feet wide and 100-200 high at that point. This was not something I felt comfortable scrambling on by myself in boots. With a rope and some gear this looks as thought it would be pretty good. I contoured along the ridge for 100 feet and climbed up into a weak spot hoping I could cross the ridge and get to the left as the right wasn't looking good. The weak spot did not provide any way to get to the left and I had to decide if I wanted to turn around and downclimb the 5th class moves or try to force the right side.
I wasted at least an hour here and gained 200 vertical feet. To the right of the aręte is an extremely in-cut couloir, it almost looks like a tunnel at times. Getting from the ridge to the couloir itself was difficult, involving down climbing 40-degree scree.

As I started climbing up the couloir I hoped that it would provide an exit as everywhere else was a cliff and there was no way I could climb out. The temptation to turn around here and call it a day was very strong. I could be home in time for lunch and just count this as an exploratory trip. In hindsight that might have been the better option.
The top 100 feet of the couloir has two 15 foot high headwalls separated by 40-50 degree scree. The first headwall did not present much difficulty in climbing, the second headwall merits an entirely new rating system, and I rate this D5.6, as in 5.6 dirt. I was balanced on the left side of the dihedral when my foot hold exploded, it literally exploded into pieces and fell down the gully. I listed to the rocks fall for some time and wondered if I fell just how far I would go before I stopped tumbling. I scrambled up the dirt and rock hoping that what I was using for hand and foot holds would support my weight. I wondered if I slipped here how long it would be until someone discovered my broken body. I also made a deal with myself that if I got out of this I would bring a rope or a partner or both.
This is why I say to stay to the left, as the right presents no decent options what so ever.
Following the D5.6 pitch I was able to get up and around to the left side of the aręte. From that point there is 500 vertical feet of excellent class 3-4 scrambling. Upon reaching the top of the aręte the angle relents and several disappointing false summits must be traversed before reaching point "Esprit".
pic of the l arm and head of the angel
From the top of point "Esprit" I checked my watch and had to decide to keep going or turn around. Going for the summit would have me returning very close to dark or I could turn around now and walk down the sunny East ridge. I decided to go for the summit and to descend via the Angel snowfield and the standard route, knowing that climbing back up point "Esprit" would be unpleasant.
I reached the summit, had a snack and started down, hoping to get back to my car in the daylight. Things went well until I got into the trees.
No one has been on the trail in a while, there were no footprints and the snow was knee deep in places in the trees. It didn't take long until I lost the trail and was stumbling down through the woods. At that point my plan was to keep going down until I hit the Colorado trial. I could tell I was getting tired as I found myself becoming mad ad irrational things. I was angry that no one had been up the Angel trail and that I was the only one out doing this sort of thing. In hindsight I probably should have eaten something right then. I was also worried that no one had been on the Colorado trail and that I would miss it, which would mean I would have to bushwack back to the car. I also started to wonder if I was going to be spending the night in the woods. I resolved myself to getting to my car that evening no matter what. My plan was that at 4:30 if I had not hit the Co trail I was going to turn to the right and start bush whacking to my car. At 4:26 I hit the trail about half mile N of the actual intersection of the Co trail and the Mt Shavano trail. From there it was just a two mile walk back to the car on the Colorado trail, finishing by headlight I arrived at my car around 5:40ish.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

holy cow...
11/22/2009 02:36
Holy cow, the Tomassi Arete looks spooky. Not sure if all that choss is worth it for that solid looking 500 foot section of rock. Nice it was dry, though. Quite a day. And kudos for having the guts to explore this. It may not get a second any time soon ... but it‘s cool that you stuck it out and looped the summit. Nice job!

Doctor No

Great report!
11/22/2009 18:14
Always nice to see rare routes well documented here - it gives rise to the imagination!

I think that Roach‘s book has a route very close to this one for Shavano - but the book is at my office, so I cannot check.


11/23/2009 18:02
looks like quite the adventure! Did the angel have enough snow for a ski descent?

rolo tomassi

the angel
11/23/2009 19:07
You could ski the angel down to tree line-ish. I dont think you could ski from the summit, but the angel is definitely there and could be skied.
Plus it looks like it was snowing up there this am.

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