Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  05/17/2011
Date Climbed:   05/16/2011
Author:  jimmtman
 Bluebird Day on the Angel  

I’d been looking for a good snow route to do and based on other’s posts and reports the Angel of Shavano was sounding good. I watched the weather for about a week and decided to go on Monday. The forecast was a 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon and mostly sunny, with a high near 44 with wind of 20 and 25 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. The forecast turned out to be pretty accurate.

I left Highlands Ranch at 3 AM and got to the new Blank Cabin trailhead around 5:45 AM. The dirt roads to the TH are clear and dry with no snow. On the way in there was quite a bit of fog and low level clouds so didn’t get great views of Shavano Here is 1 photo on the dirt road to the TH.

Shavano from road

Left the car at 6 AM and the temperature was 27 F. The trail was melted out and dry for the first mile or so up to an elevation of 10400 ft. The trail was hard to follow between 10600 and 10800 ft. At 10600 ft you hit the crest of the hill and the trail is flat and trending left. At this point there are several trails of boot marks – the most prominent one actually turns to the left and goes downhill. I followed that one for a short distance and retraced my steps. The correct way to go is up to the right in a NW direction and ascend a fairly steep hill. Soon afterwards the trail gets better defined as there is more snow and more boot prints.

At 10900 ft there is a small trail leading left off the main trail and there is a small cairn there. This is the takeoff to go up to the Angel. This trail looked to be less used than some others with deeper snow and here I put on the snowshoes. In general the snow was pretty well frozen except for the occasional punch through. There were a few more paths coming from the right (from higher on the main TH) but eventually these all joined into 1 easy to follow trail heading up to treeline. Popped out of the trees and greeted to a nice view.

At Treeline

The clouds in the valley were neat.

Cloud Forrest

Traversed up around the corner and got the first view of the Angel.

The Angel

Cached my snowshoes and trekking poles here and switched to crampons.

Started up the base on the Angel at 7:50 AM. The snow was well frozen and made for great cramponing. Here is a view straight up the Angel.


The great conditions made for quick climbing. Progress was slowed some due to the fact the wind had picked up. It was blowing 25-40 mph right down the Angel into my face and the stronger gusts would knock me off balance some.

The head of the Angel curves to the right.


The top of the Angel is at about 13100 ft. From here there is less continuous snow. I headed more of less straight up connecting patches of snow to the top.


Continued up and reached Shavano summit at 9:50 AM. Excluding breaks the hike up took 3.5 hrs. Very nice views on top.

Tab from Shavano Summit

Sizeable peak to South

View NW - Uncompahgre in distance



Had some food and water and left after 15 min to go over to Tabeguache. The rocky ridge down to the saddle was a bit of a pain in my plastic boots. I had decided to take off the crampons and this was a good move.

Tab from saddle

The saddle was very windy and this made for icy conditions but not enough to need the crampons. Went up Tab on very nice snow.

Route up Tab

Near the top of Tab

Near the top the snow was softening and going in to boot depth. Reached the top right around 11 AM.

With the softening snow and increased risk of slides I didn’t spend much time on top of Tab. I snapped a quick photo of Shavano and headed down.

Shav from Tab

Blitzed down to the saddle and across to a little ways up Shavano in less than 10 minutes. Took a food/water break and headed back up Shav. I found the hike up better than the hike down as it was easier to find level places to step going up. Made it back to Shav at 11:45 AM. Took a summit photo – got lots of sun that day.

Lots of Sun!

Started back down and the snow was getting soft. Trended more to the East ridge proper to get more snow. Was able to glissade once or twice on the East ridge from 13800 ft down to the top of the Angel at 13100 ft. Made 1 awesome glissade down the entire Angel (about 1000 ft drop). Dropped the 2200 vertical feet back to my snowshoe cache in about 45 min.

Nice Pine tree at treeline

Switched to snowshoes and headed down. The snow was soft now and even with 22” shoes was punching though some. Once I got back below treeline the snow was firmer since it hadn’t gotten the sun exposure and didn’t punch through. Got back to the car at 2:20 pm. Got back to HR at 5:30 pm in time to pick up my son from baseball practice

All in all, an awesome day with great weather and excellent snow conditions. The great snow made for quick and easy travel. There is a high amount of vertical here at 5600 ft but I suspect it is tougher in the summer – you can’t slide down half the mountain on your butt! I did Bel/Ox last fall with similar distance and vertical and that felt tougher. If you are thinking about doing the Angel this year you should go for it as the conditions are great.

Nice Aspen at TH - must be great in fall!

Shavano and Angel from 285

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

05/18/2011 01:16
Thanks for the trip report. Good to see the conditions.


Great Report!
05/19/2011 12:37
I was there the week before and got blown of the Tab ridge after rounding the summit of Shavano. Good to see you made it despite the intense winds!

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