September 15, 2016

Mount Shavano – 14,229′

14er rank:

# of climbs:
First climbed:
Last climbed:
Routes climbed:


1,619' (Mt. Antero - 3.8 mi N)
Chaffee County
14 mi NW of Salida
16 mi SW of Buena Vista

Angel of Shavano (Class 2)

Google Maps


*This is not the standard route to the summit of Mount Shavano! 

This is the 13th 14er I've hiked, back in May 2014 with my friend Mike. It is the 17th tallest peak in Colorado and the southernmost 14er in the Sawatch Range. Mount Shavano is easily seen from the Arkansas River Valley to the east, especially from around the town of Salida. It is often climbed together with neighboring Tabeguache Peak, which connects with Shavano to the northwest via a high saddle at 13,700'. 

The standard route follows a trail up Mount Shavano's southeast slopes to its south ridge and then continues up the ridge to the summit, an 8.5 mile Class 2 hike with ~4,400' of elevation gain. When there is still a decent amount of snow on the mountain, you can also choose to ascend via the Angel of Shavano, a snow-filled slope southeast of the summit that, from afar, often takes on the appearance of an angel with its arms raised. 

To hike the Angel, begin at the Blank Gulch Trailhead at 9,800' and follow the Colorado trail a quarter mile north to the Mount Shavano Trail near 9,900'. Take this new trail and follow it up through the forest to the west. When there is snow, you will probably lose the trail at some point, as we did. In that case, just continue on up through the forest until you reach treeline at 11,600'. If you keep on the trail, make sure not to follow it when it turns right (north) and starts heading up the slopes above the forest. This would be the way to go if you were taking the standard route. Instead, leave the trail and continue west up the through the forest to treeline.

Once out of the forest, continue west until you see the snow-filled Angel slopes ahead of you to the northwest. Make your way to the base of the slopes along the easiest path. From here, it is an ~800' climb up the snow, which looks steep from afar but never slopes more than about 30 degrees. It's probably a good idea to have an ice ax here since, if you slip and fall, you may gain enough momentum to slide all the way down to the bottom - especially if it's early in the day and the snow is firm. 

You can choose to take either "arm" of the Angel, or it's "head". The left arm takes you to Shavano's south ridge while the right arm dumps you out high on the east ridge, close to the summit. The head of the Angel aims directly up Shavano's southeast slopes and can be quite grueling since it is pretty steep. I would know, since that what I took to the top. The best choice of action is to follow the snow that takes you as far up as possible. 

After summiting, you can take the standard route down, or, if you're up for an adventure, glissade (or ski) down the Angel. We glissaded from the top of the Angel's head and had a grand time descending the 800' back to the bottom in about 60 seconds or so. If doing a glissade, make sure to have an ice ax in case you lose control and need to do a self arrest. Otherwise, your adventure could turn into a painful meeting with some rocks. 


Trip Reports

Mount Shavano (May 2014)