Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  04/17/2010
Date Climbed:   04/14/2010
Author:  pioletski
 Sojourn on Shavano   

Skiing with the Angel

Mt Shavano, 4/14/2010 - climb and summit ski via Angel from the Angel of Shavano TH
Pioletski (solo)
11 miles, 5040' climbed and skied

Last spring I joined Martynda and crew for a climb of Shavano (thanks again, gents, that was a nice trip). Unfortunately I was there a bit late in the season for a summit descent. Shavano's summit tends to blow clear of snow, so one has to make hay while the iron is hot (or something like that). On Wednesday I had the opportunity for a rematch, on a glorious bluebird day.

I chose the Angel of Shavano trailhead as a starting point, being unsure how close I would be able to drive to the Blank's Cabin TH. Usually, with snow, this saves some distance and some vertical, at the potential cost of a sloppy return along the Colorado Trail in the soft afternoon snow. I left the trailhead around 5:30 am, hiking up the dry hillside as dawn broke over Salida:

Dawn breaks over Salida

I set an easy pace, being tired from an unnecessarily long march on Columbia the day before. The snow was frozen hard, which made the going easy, and before too long I was looking up at the Angel snowfield. (The Grinch is just starting to form, beginning with his smile, like the Cheshire Cat.)

First view of the Angel

Arriving at the steep portion of the Angel, I paused to eat and don crampons. The latter turned out to be unnecessary, as the dirty snow was softening fast in the morning sun. Still, it was the first time I had worn points since last June, and it felt good. I kept them on well above 13 grand.

Puttin' on the points

As I was preoccupied with thinking about my adventures of the previous day (another story entirely), I didn't pause to take many pictures. Hiking on familiar ground allows one's mind to wander. Around noon I found myself looking at the fragmented remains of the summit register:

Rough place for a register

Did I mention that the weather was perfect? View to the north from the summit (Antero, et al):

Summit view to north...

and to the west (Carbonate):

... and west...

and the Monarch ski area to the southwest:

... and southwest

The 10 second self-timer on my camera isn't enough time for me to get my skis on, so I captured myself in the process. This is the closest I can get to an action shot... The summit register is on the rock next to my pack:

Skis on at the summit

The initial move off the summit was a quick S-turn around the boulder on the right of this photo, followed by a traverse onto the south ridge and back to the east:

First 2 turns go here

Once that was done, it was clear sailing down the east ridge and onto the Angel's northeast wing. (I have gotten out of the habit of describing her wings as "left" or "right." Quite apart from the political overtones, it creates confusion as to whether one is talking about the climber's or skier's point of view, etc.)

Clear sailing

The Colorado Trail back to the trailhead was sloppy, as one must expect, but at that point it would have taken a lot to ruin my good mood. The views remained spectacular:

Looking south from treeline

Here's Shavano, shining in the sun, as I headed up to BV to prepare for the next day's adventure.

Shavano from the highway

Thanks for reading!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Nice solo! So how do you like skiing on those Dynafit FT10‘s


Summit register
04/17/2010 19:11
Congrats on your summit and successful ski descent. That summit register was buried. I took the time to unbury it last Sunday only to find the bottom missing. oh well.


Enjoyed the TR!
04/17/2010 21:06
Matt, looks like you‘ve really been on it. How was Columbia? Hope we‘ll see a TR on that one too!

Hey - let us know how conditions look in the Sawatch tomorrow after today‘s weather.



Thanks gents
11/30/2010 17:28
Jim - The Sawatch improved a bit with the snow but there are still big brown spots that melt early. Early starts are important (what else is new?). Columbia TR is up, right next to your Shavano TR.

Chuckski - thanks! The FT10s are nice, I am confident skiing just about anything in them though they're not great in powder. They are light as feathers, which is nice on the way up, but means you need a boot that will show 'em who's boss in crud, etc. They would be more versatile if they were fatter but that would require more torsional stiffness, which would add weight... bottom line is, there are compromises as with all backcountry gear, but they definitely work for me.

Micah - cheers!


Nice work!
04/22/2010 21:09
Way to get Shavano in good conditions and weather, Matt!

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