Mount Shavano

snow Angel of Shavano
Difficulty Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Easy 
Ski/Board: Intermediate, D3 / R2 / III  
Risk FactorsExposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start9,750 feet
Summit14,230 feet
Total Gain4,600 feet
RT Length7.50 miles
SheriffChaffee: 719-539-2596
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated snow, in spring or early summer. Climbing this route in mid-winter could put you in deadly avalanche conditions.


On U.S. 285, one mile north of the U.S. 50 junction near Poncha Springs, turn west onto County Road (CR) 140. This turn is about 21 miles south of Buena Vista, and across the highway from the Salida airport. Measure from here. On CR 140, drive 1.7 miles and then turn right on CR 250. Continue to 2.6 miles where the road turns to dirt. Once you enter BLM land the road becomes rough and rocky. At 5.9 miles, stay left at a junction and continue on FR 252. At 9.0 miles, stay left at another junction and continue a bit farther to reach the trailhead at 9.2 miles. If the lot is full, there is overflow parking if you continue 0.1 mile beyond the trailhead.


The "Angel of Shavano" is a snow feature that sort of looks like an angel with arms and wings - 1. It's located in the center of Shavano's southeast slopes and is frequently used as a spring snow climb and ski route. In some years, it's possible to climb snow up the Angel and then continue on snow up to the east ridge and to the summit. The Angel-to-East Ridge combination ( 2 and 3) provides the best possibility for continuous snow from the summit down into the Angel.

From the Shavano/Tabeguache trailhead ( 4), follow the trail approximately 0.1 mile to a trail junction. Turn right onto the Colorado Trail and hike along a fence above the old Blank Cabin trailhead - 5. Near the corner of the fence, cross a cattle guard and continue 1/4 mile ( 6) to another trail junction - 7. Turn left onto the Mt. Shavano trail - 8. Hike over 3/4 mile into the forest ( 9) to a point where the terrain levels near 10,600'. Continue up to a larger flat area, near 10,700'. Walk northwest before ascending west along a small stream. Near 10,900', cross to the north side of the stream and continue weaving through the forest. Near 11,100', leave the trail by turning left and hiking west along the drainage below the Angel. To the north, you should be able to see a steep, tree-covered slope that forms the north side of the drainage - the main trail goes in that direction but you want to turn left and continue through the forest without a trail. If you are unsure about where to turn, continue on the main trail to 11,200' where it makes a hard right to climb east up the hill. Turn left here and hike west into the drainage to your left - 10.

Without a trail, continue west through the trees on easy terrain. Locate the stream in the drainage and follow it west/northwest toward tree line. If there is snow coverage, simply take the path of least resistance through the forest - 11. The terrain never gets too steep, just some small hills. Near 11,600', pop out of the trees near the center of the basin below the Angel - 12 and 13. Consolidated snow coverage provides some easy trekking. Continue around a corner and above 11,600' to get your first head-on view of the Angel - 14. This is a good area to turn on your avalanche beacons and study the snow conditions ahead.

Continue up the center of the basin to reach the bottom of the Angel - 15. As 14ers go, the Angel is an easy snow climb and ski/ride. Begin your ascent of the Angel - 16. The steepest terrain is between 12,200' and 12,600' - 17 and 18. Taken on a different climb and in early summer, 19 is a look across the Angel from the standard trail. Continue through the upper body and to the head where you finally get a view of the summit - 20. The terrain becomes easier above 13,300', near the top of the Angel - 21.

If you run out of snow, this is a good area to decide if you want to use the upper Mt. Shavano - East Slopes Route to gain the summit. If there is more snow above (right of the summit), the most direct route is to continue north up the slope ( 22) and gain the east ridge ( 23) on the saddle between the summit and Point 13,617' - 24. Turn left and hike steeper, rocky terrain up toward the summit - 25. It's difficult to see the exact summit until you are just a few feet below the top - 26, 27 and 28.


Skiing the upper East Ridge: 29, 30, 31
Into the Angel: 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
Down through the body: 38, 39, 40, 41
Down into the basin: 42, 43
Looking back: 44, 45
Heading into the forest: 46


If there is heavy snow cover, the hike up through the forest can be confusing if you aren't familiar with it. A GPS with pre-loaded route/waypoint data or some careful map preparation is helpful.
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Caution: The information contained in this route description 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 route description 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 route description 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.

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