Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  05/23/2011
Date Climbed:   05/21/2011
Author:  bergsteigen
 Angels and Demons   

Mt Shavano

Route: Angel
Mileage: 7.5
Elevation Gain: 4,600'
Vertical Ski: ~3,550'
Snowdevil Skiers: kansas (Darrin) and me

Other stats....
Start of snow (end of ski down): ~10,800' & ~1mi from TH
Skinnable slopes: ~10,800 - ~13,750'
Summit Ski: In

Once again, with fresh powder in May, and iffy Avy conditions - I was searching out a reasonably easy ski for the weekend. With the Angel's ~30 degree slope and 'minimal' inherent avy danger, as well as the recent snow should fill in the summit ski, it was the best to be found.

So Darrin and I head up to the dry trailhead Friday night to sleep for a few hours before booting up the annoyingly rocky trail for a mile. Thankfully around 10,800' the snow becomes continuous so that we can start skinning. The wind started as occasional gusts, but as we neared the base of the Angel, had picked up and was a steady annoyance. We geared up for the windy onslaught just at treeline. Once out onto the Angel the wind would pick up snow and ice shards and throw them at us from all directions.

We could see Eric (lostsheep5) and Zach (EatinHardtack) up on a higher slope digging a pit on the most avy prone slope. With the swirling winds, there wasn't a consistent wind direction to cause much of a wind slab layer. Within a few feet of each other, you would have reworked powder, old crust surface and wind slab layer. I felt that with the lack of continuity in the snow surface, the wind slab patches would be isolated and wouldn't be a problem on the lower slope angles we would be experiencing. Plus the wind kept the snow surface very cool most of the day. So we only had to battle the winds today, and the less than ideal snow conditions, that made either booting or skinning up a challenge. All the skiers, except me, booted up after the skinning the first slope. I found it easier to battle the winds with the skis on my feet. Learned a few lessons about wind on Columbia earlier this year...

First view of the Angel, shrowded in snow mist

Skiers booting up...

Skinning up the angel - Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin battling the winds

Darrin booting up

The wind was absolutely horrid, almost knocked me down a couple times. Most of us would brace during the worst of the wind, and then sprint as far as we could go before the next gusts or ice tornadoes hit us. Any exposed skin got quite the exfoliation. Snow vortexes were the worst, as it was hard to gauge the wind direction to brace for, as it rapidly changed. Little did I know at the time, but my camera would fall victim to this snow pelting, and refused to work until I melted out the snow that filled in my light sensor. So I missed all photos from the top of the Angel and back from the summit.

First view of summit

Winds cleared for a momment

After 7.5 hours we reached the summit, all 6 skiers in attendance. The last 1k was brutal, and it felt never ending. At 13,750' I had to swap out my skis for crampons, as the fresh snow was all ablated away, and an icy surface remained. Thankfully the summit wasn't as windy as the Angel, so we could relax for a few minutes, before we all departed. The fresh snow filled in all the rocky spots, and the ski was almost perfectly continuous. Only a few side stepping areas.

Me dropping in - Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin dropping in - GoPro Image

Darrin fighting the warm ski, snow sticky - GoPro Image

First Turns - Photo Credit: Darrin

Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin standing like a skier, so proud! - GoPro Image

Fisheye effect.... - GoPro Image

Ski conditions were pretty good, and the areas of fresh snow were nice! I think we had most every type of snow type along our route down, powder, sustrugi, ice and corn. Lots of fun was had by all, including ulvetano's dog. Who while uncomfortable looking on the summit, had tons of fun racing down the snow! (Got some GoPro video of the happy dog)

Darrin skiing. My camera started working again! Hurray!

The valley, winds have died down

Skiing the body of the Angel - Photo Credit: Darrin

Ripping it past the snowshoers - Photo Credit: Darrin

Having some fun - Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin enjoying the corn

Darrin throwing some snow

Me enjoying the final corn turns - Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin's perspective of the ski - Photo Credit: Darrin

Darrin with a Smile! - Skiing is NOT stupid ;) - GoPro image

It looks so nice... now!

6 sets of ski tracks

Shavano in the late afternoon light

Music inspired by the failed Rapture while skiing the Angel....

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

 Comments or Questions

great report
05/23/2011 20:15
Another summit ski - you're racking 'em up. Nice work, Otina


Lets make a deal...
05/23/2011 21:57
Eric- I will make that my signature if you post a video showing the first 15 seconds of your descent...


Skiing IS DUMB.
05/23/2011 23:07
There, now Darrin doesn't have to say it.


The climb looks familiar
05/23/2011 23:26
Elbert felt the same way on the route up the east ridge. The wind never made up its mind as far as direction. Sounds like the descent was really enjoyable though, grats! Wish I could say the same of the northern side of the range hahah.


nice report
05/23/2011 23:49
and I wish I had come out and went up with the 14er folk instead of staying on the front range, we would have had a much better day from the sounds of it. looks like you all had an awesome time!


Horrible Wind, BUT...
05/24/2011 00:14
A great ski down. It's too bad I went first off the summit. I didn't see Eric take his digger, video was good.


05/24/2011 00:22
Bold, Eric. That's awesome! You are a true man of your word. Darrin???


Well played sir, well played.
05/24/2011 00:30
That video was even better than I could have hoped. Much better than the pathetic fall I took lower down.
Signature changed...and I'm sure Otina loves it...
Keith- Thanks, you're a true friend!


05/24/2011 12:59
Classic video! Good thing you didn't do that on Crestone Peak.


Ski 'em while you can
05/24/2011 16:04
Dan - With such a great snow year, it would be sacrilege to not ski a few

Eric - Great to see you too. That was one awesome video! I wasn't expecting to see skis up in the air after you dropped in


nice group
05/25/2011 01:12
Looks like you guys had a good time. We were'nt to far away on Huron (only ones). Glad to see Otina got her guy on the slopes. Eric, nice vid, great to see you on skis. Nice group and TR. What a season.

Well Done!
05/25/2011 06:39
Quick question: I and a friend plan on climbing the angel this saturday (not skiing), would you recommend snowshoes or crampons since we will not be skinning? Given the relatively low degree of slope, did you encounter many slide paths or avy prone areas? Thank You.


Depends on snow conditions...
05/25/2011 16:19
As long as your snowshoes have good metal prongs (?) on the bottom, or have decent grip, they should be fine. The problem will be if the surface has turned thick with ice. (Ie previously really warm day followed by significant freeze at night)

The biggest avy prone slope(s) is the one above to your left as you start up the angel. Also wet slides could be a problem in general, late in the day if the slopes have been baking in the sun. Try to be down and off the Angel well before noon, and earlier if it's a hot sunny day. We didn't see any recent activity on any slope around us

bckcntryskr - I bet Huron was fun! Hope the slog in/out wasn't too long...


That was...
03/04/2012 18:31
...A brutal day. Good work and nice seeing you again.
you gotta get Darrin to say skiing is NOT dumb.


03/04/2012 18:31
Ha your on...
The snow was shallow and variable near the summit, the first turn I made I broke through the whole snowpack and caught my ski on a piece of talus that lay hidden in sugar snow. I did one summersault and stopped. My camera slid down another 5ft.
Heres the link to the video:
Let me see the signature Darrin.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.