Spring Ski Descent, Mt. Shavano, Colorado
Participants: Mike Sullivan, Andy Griedef
Mt. Shavano (14,229') is the southernmost 14er in the Sawatch Range.
It's east bowl sports a very prominent three-fingered snowfield - the
Angel of Shavano. When in condition, it offers a moderate-angled 3000'
ski descent. It was "in", so Andy and I decided to jump on it. We took
off from the trailhead in pre-dawn twilight and were able to boot up a
mostly dry trail for the first hour of the ascent, stopping once to
splint a broken pole. Eventually we switched to skis and skinned up to
the base of the east bowl. When the pitch got steep we packed the skis
and booted up to the top on nice, solidly-frozen snow.
We summited about 9:30 in spectacular weather, and spent the next two
hours exploring, taking photos, telling lies, and waiting for the snow
to soften. At the appointed time, we descended 75' to the spot where we
had cached our skis below the rocky summit. The first 200' of skiing
involved picking our way around a few rock outcrops and getting into a
rhythm. Then the Angel started for real... an uninterrupted 2800'
descent on the most heavenly corn snow either of us ever carved an edge
into. (Until now, I'd always thought it was called the Angel because of
it's shape.) We skied until our lungs were screeching, then stopped and
laughed and bellowed for the sheer euphoria of it all, and repeated the
process all the way to the bottom. In about 10 minutes we shot down the
slope that took us 3 hours to climb.
We finally hit the inevitable mush at the bottom, and ducked into the
trees to enjoy the pleasure of a mush/crust/treewell goulash. The fun
might be over, but the adventure was just beginning... We wallowed our
way back down below snowline and had a huge lunch, babbling about how
great the route was. We continued down, missed the trail by about 200
yards, and wound up descending through a beautiful aspen glade that was
way more styley than the pounded-out trail. The car came into view about
3 PM, and we headed down to Cottonwood Hot Springs to round out the day
in a jacuzzi. Yeah, it's a tough life...