Angel of Shavano Ski Descent - 05/10/08

Page Type
Trip Report
Colorado, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
May 10, 2008
Hiking, Mountaineering, Skiing
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Angel of Shavano Ski Descent - 05/10/08
Created On: May 14, 2008
Last Edited On: May 14, 2008


Mountains: Mt. Shavano (14,229’)
Route: Started at the Angel of Shavano Campground (9100’), climbed and skied the Angel
Elevation Gain - 5200’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 9 miles (approx)
Crew: Stephanie, Eric, Scott, Fritjof, Prakash

Eric, Stephanie and I met Fritjof at Golden and drove down to Poncha Springs together. We camped at the Angel of Shavano Campground on Friday night and watched our friends the Jamies getting hammered as Mike looked on. We were looking at a 40% snow forecast with an inch or two of accumulation for Saturday. We were to meet Scott at the TH the following morning and begin climbing.

The Trail

We got little precipitation that night. We slept pretty soundly, woke up early and began to eat and gear up. Scott arrived at 6:30AM and we started up the Colorado trail 10 minutes later. Except for Steph who was carrying a snowboard and snowshoes, and Fritjof who was on Tele, the rest of us carried AT gear. The night’s snowfall had left a dusting but none of it was planning to stick.

5104CO Trail

5106Looking back down the CO Trail

In a little under an hour we joined the Mt. Shavano trail coming from the Shav+Tab trailhead.

5108Mt. Shavano Trail

We continued on up the dry trail to the base of a drainage that we ascended. Here the snow started getting a little deeper and we postholed and broke trail for a short while. The snow was patchy and we didn’t put our skis on quite yet. A short while up the drainage (~10,400’) Steph put on her snowshoes and the rest of us began skinning up.

5111Skis and Snowshoes On

Here’s what this section looked like…

5113Snowshoes Aren't so Bad After All

5114Fresh Unbroken Snow

Ascending the Angel

We soon reached the flat area described in the route description. We went off the summer trail for a bit here and after a short while found our way to the base of the Angel.

5119Base of the Angel

Here’s looking back down the way we came up…

5121Where we came from...

Once up in the basin the winds set about being a nuisance.

5122Banshee Activity

The snow in the angel was great for skinning up most of the way. It started getting icy higher up close to the top of the narrow part of the Angel’s body. We had to make large switchbacks here and soon decided to begin booting to pick up speed. The wind picked up speed too and blew down the Angel in random directions… very moody, menopausal behavior IMHO. Bad, baaad wind. I lost one of my sweet mittens that has survived 2 Calendar Winters Climbing Seasons on a @$%^&$@ Spring climb. If any of you find a blue AK Burton Primaloft ‘Oven Mitt’ somewhere along the Angel’s arm/body I’d greatly appreciate having it back. It has served me well and is the first piece of gear I’ve lost on the mountains.

Eric 1Scott Does Battle. Photo © Eric

We reached the top of the Angel and took a short break and decided to leave our skis mostly because the wind was threatening to blow us down the mountain skis, packs and all.

Break TimeSkiers Without Skis. Photo © Stephanie


The wind was pretty strong above 13,000’ and we were not too sad to have left the skis behind. We decided to head NW straight up to the summit block as opposed to heading right and catching the East Ridge. Here I saw a poof of smoke and all of a sudden Steph was on the summit with Fritjof snapping at her heels. The wind was fairly regular all the way to the top. Some summit shots…

5123Summit Block!

5124Summit Scenic

The Ski Down

At around 3PM Eric, Fritjof and I began descending down to meet Scott and Steph. We plunge-stepped the partially covered East Ridge down to where we’d left our skis. We strapped on our skis and began skiing some bulletproof stuff on the arm of the angel. After a few hundred painful feet I took skis off and traversed rock bands toward the body of the Angel. Eric, Fritjof and Scott had skied that part and waited below. Steph was boarding for the first time and decided to plunge-step down lower to find better snow conditions.

Fritjof tears it up…

Scott 2Fritjof Killing It. Photo © Scott

Scott 3Scott Kills it with the Camera. Photo © Scott

There was some nice powder lower down that’d been blown in by the wind. It took no more than 5 minutes for tracks to fill in given the wind’s nasty behavior.

Scott follows suit…

Eric 4Scott Killing It... Photo © Eric


Scott 1Eric Gets Artsy. Photo © Scott

Looking down the Angel…

5129Looking Down the Angel's Body

Eric goes first…

5131Eric Enters the Angel's Body...?

Scott and Fritjof prepare to follow…

5135Scott and Fritjof Drool in Anticipation

We were soon at the bottom of the Angel and began the descent through the trees. The snow was beginning to get a little slushy and snowshoes will be helpful if you’re planning to climb this route this weekend. I took the time out to explore several slushy treewells while the others shook their heads in disbelief… it was a delightful experience. Below snowline the trail seemed to go on forever as is always the case. One last scenic…

5136Is the Day Over Yet?

We got down to Eric’s car totally beat and blistered. A bunch of well chosen expletives aimed at Shavano and a few burritos ended another sweet day in the mountains… great preparation for Sleep-in Sunday. It was a great day out with some very special idiots. Steph, Eric, it's always a pleasure getting out with you guys. Scott, Fritjof it was good to meet you both. We should do this again soon. For more of Scott’s pictures and his own trip report please visit his website at Sorry for the delayed conditions post.


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ScottieB - May 14, 2008 11:46 pm - Voted 10/10


Looks like the link did not work. My trip report can be found HERE

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Angel of Shavano Ski Descent - 05/10/08

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