Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Date Posted:  05/26/2009
Modified:  05/29/2009
Date Climbed:   05/25/2009
Author:  BKS
 Two boys, a dog and their Dad on Shavano   

Peak: Mt Shavano
Route: Standard East ridge up, Angel down
Partners: Brian, Keith & Kaleb Sommers
Date: Monday, May 25, 2009

I write this trip report on the long drive on I-70 back to Kansas City. My boys and I had planned for weeks on a Memorial Day trip. We had checked out renting AT skis in Salida before leaving, but decided against it as a trip report from last weekend indicated the Angel was getting thin.


After two days of constant rain, fog, and snow, we questioned if we'd get a chance to climb. We logged on to check out reports and updates at the "Rooster Café" in Beuna Vista after church Sunday morning. After consuming a huge brunch and watching a youtube video on how to self-arrest, we decided to head to the trailhead with our brand new ice axes and "expert" knowledge of the technique.

The route to the trailhead isn't fail-safe. One turn-off fooled us and we ended up finding a great place to cut firewood. I've never seen a fourteener trailhead so deserted. We had planned to backpack up to 11,000 to get a head-start for the next day, but because of the ongoing rain we opted to set up camp around the trailhead and drive to Salida and buy gaitors.

We got started on the trail just before 5:00 am Monday morning. After leaving the Colorado trail, we heard a voice from behind us, "Greetings Earthlings". I asked the man where he was headed (thinking there was more than one destination on this trail). He replied, "Arriba... that's Mexican for up." I need to check a Spanish-English dictionary on that one. He asked if we had been up before, and told us that it was a Ute Indian ritual to climb Shavano. So it was our first and his sixth assent.

We lost the trail after the creek around 11,200 and ended up on a steep grunt through the trees to the shoulder.


We found the trail again before treeline and gaitored up for the snow ahead on the ascending traverse north of the angel.


There was enough new snow that the angel was mostly indistinguishable.


As the route crossed the top of the body, it wasn't clear which would be the best way to go.


We opted to zig-zag up between the two arms. My oldest, Keith, questioned his dad's route finding ability.

The last 700 feet up the summit cone seemed to last forever.


My barometric altimeter was stuck at 13,700 as a front moved through. I knew we were making elevation, but the lack of progress on the dial was messing with my mind. I couldn't tell if the hump before us was the real thing or a falsie. After the front passed, my altimeter read 14,100.


We have a ritual of praying on the summit of each mountain that our family climbs.


It goes something like this, I pray that each one us will be overcomers in life as we have overcome the difficulties of this mountain. I pray that perseverance, endurance, courage, and strength will shape our character. This prayer comes from the call to be an overcomer in the Biblical book of Revelation and from Romans 5:3-5 that reads... "suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love in to our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us."


Samson, our 2 year old wheaten terrier made his first summit. Last year, he wound up tied to a rock at 13,500 on top of Lavender col on Sneffels after failing to do the bouldering on leash in the upper couloir. We have a harness for him that is reversible- one way to stop him from pulling and the other so he will pull. He pulled all the way up the hill - amazing how much a 35lb dog can assist one in going up. The breed must have some sled dog in them - great mountain dog - ate snow to hydrate, rolled in the snow, and showed no sign of tiring while we were dragging.

This being our first climb in snow, I could not believe how much easier descending was. I had heard the term, 'plunge stepping', but we didn't need a video to figure that one out. Plunge steeping in the softening snow on the steeper parts of the south ridge was much easier and more comfortable than it would have been on dirt, talus, and loose scree.

Now for the part we had waited for - the glissade down the angel.


We got the shinning new axes out and practiced the technique. I told the boys to wait for me to get down a ways and then turn the dog loose.


I sat down on a previous track and pushed off - nothing - the snow was getting too soft for my 220 lbs. They followed and couldn't keep it going either.


We were all disappointed -- seemed like we had wasted all that anticipation and $300 on the axes and leashes.

Kaleb, my youngest kept the dog on leash. Samson pulled Kaleb all the way down the angel "sled dog" style.


It was only in the steeper lower parts that we could really experience what a glissade is supposed to be. The snow ran out far too soon.


We rearranged our pants and underwear and set out through the boulder field.

In the trees at 11,200 before gaining the standard trail, Kaleb announced he hadn't pooped for three days and decided the time had come. By an old log cabin he laid a monster log that had a base so big that it stood upright like the Eifel tower. Picture not available.


Everything was downhill from then on.

We were 5 ˝ hours up and 3 hours down. Slow, I know, but I'm an overweight middle aged flatlander who does more dreaming and reading about climbing fourteeners than actually climbing.


Wish I lived closer.

This is my first trip report but my 23rd fourteener. I love this site - it's the first thing I read in the morning and last at night. The time I've spent on this site the last year has served to keep me motivated through the off season to exercise more regularly in preparation for the mountains. I am grateful that my boys want to climb with their ole dad.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

05/27/2009 16:15
Great report with great pics. It is a great family activity for sure...I always love hiking with my kids. Looks like Shavano is ready for me! What did Tabeguache look like?


Angel is classic
05/28/2009 03:46
Gerry Roach is right the angel is defintely a classic. I still want to go back for the ski down - it would have been prime.

We were too pooped to go onto Tabeguache - weather was a little iffy. There looked to be quite a bit of snow - a sizeable cornice on low point on ridge. One couple did it before us with crampons (didn‘t get to talk with them)- not sure if they were necessary as I read some TR before that indicated extra gear wasn‘t required.


Good work
05/28/2009 17:11
Thanks for the report, I‘ll be heading there this weekend.


05/29/2009 03:58
I‘ve got crampons & ice axe I‘ll take just in case. Ugh, I-70 from Denver to KC, talk about a long slog....I loved the year I went to college & lived in Lenexa but once I got west of Wichita on the drives home there wasn‘t much to see...except the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, the World‘s Largest Hand Dug Well in Greensburg and Dorothy‘s house in Liberal. Alright that isn‘t much

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