A Bluebird Day to Remember
Take four strong, mountain-loving women, two fabulous Sawatch Fourteeners, mix in some low-angle snow climbing and some dynamite glissades, and you've got one amazing day in the Colorado High Country. Many years Memorial Weekend brings horrendous weather to Colorado (think: Spring blizzards), but this year a high pressure system parked itself over the center of the state and brought nothing but warm sunshine with no white-outs or afternoon thunderstorms.
The snow on the lower reaches of the Angel of Shavano was unfortunately rock-hard when we reached the bottom of the coulior. Having listened to recommendations to leave the crampons at home (last time I make that mistake) I found myself having to self-belay and even chop steps on the steeper and icier sections. Whisps of fog rising from the Arkansas River ebbed and flowed up the gulley, lending a dramatic air to our ascent. Higher up in the Angel, where the sun began thawing the snow chute, the snow gave a bit more purchase. By the time we reached the top of Mount Shavano, the snow was downright punchy. We enjoyed a brief rest, snacks and views from Shavano before beginning our ridge run to the west toward Tabeguache Peak.
The eastern summit ridge of Tabeguache Peak was dressed in a fine snow fin which was a joy to ascend. The glissade down the east ridge of Tabeguache re-energized us for the re-ascent of Mount Shavano. After a very brief pause during our second visit to Shavano's bouldery summit, we started our descent toward the "head" of the Angel of Shavano. We managed to glissade, with only minor interuptions to avoid rock, all the way to the base of the coulior. We had a little adventure re-gaining the main trail after leaving the drainage of the Angel, but reached the cars pretty thrilled (and exhausted) by our fantastic day.