Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mount Sherman 2/2/2012

Total Mileage: ~10 miles
Elevation gained: ~3000 feet
Party: solo
Starting point: .75 miles before the Leavick site

Mount Sherman 14,036 feet (summit not visible) 
It was time to get out again. The forecast wasn't ideal but it rarely is this time of year here. It was about 5:30 am when I arrived at the trailhead. No other cars had arrived before me so I had no idea who I might be sharing this mountain with today. I got suited up and headed up the snowdrifted road. I may have been able to  get another .5 miles up the road but better judgement got the better of me. The snow was about 8-10 inches deep where I stopped. It didn't take long before I donned my snowshoes. Made such a huge difference in energy expenditure.

There's a lot of people who claim Sherman as one of the most boring 14ers in all Colorado. I think it helps to climb it in winter covered in 1-2 feet of snow. It really was awesome and quite challenging for me. I made it to the Leavick site fairly quickly which is the normal summer trailhead for most people.

This area is rich with mining history.  That's the extent of my knowledge though.

A lot of signs warning to keep out. Might be a secret fight club location.
About a mile in it became light enough to turn off my headlamp. The sun never really came out that day. It tried to all day but the fog cover just hovered in the wrong place all day long. It still was quite scenic but I would have loved some unobstructed views.

From the Leavick site it's just up and up the road. Passing what remains of a once thriving mining operation.

You can see the wind picking up here and the sun trying to get though creating a kind of eerie scene.

The mountain ahead of me covered in clouds.

Further up the road this is another look back. 

Mining stuff.

This is the Hilltop Mine at ~13,000 feet. The wind hit a fever pitch right as I topped out at the mine.

White Ridge 13,684 feet shares a saddle with Sherman
Well, everything was manageable until I hit the Hilltop Mine shown above. The standard route gains the southwest ridge of Sherman via a saddle connecting it to Mount Sheridan. The entire saddle was obstructed by a huge snow cornice essentially making it impassable. To add to the difficulty the wind was rip-roaring and tearing through the area just below the saddle. I had determined that I was done and had actually started to turn around. I made one last look to assess any other way up. I spotted a line that I thought might work. It was fairly steep but I thought I might be protected by the wind so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The basic route I took up vs.....

Here is Mount Sheridan and the massive cornice obstructing access to the saddle from below. 
As I gained further up my chosen route it become clear that I had made the right choice. It also protected me from the wind until I gained the ridge. The route I had chosen carried me to the southwest ridge at about 13,700 feet. Once there I had to face even stronger winds but only had about 400 vertical feet to climb before I could start climbing back down. It wasn't the strongest winds I have ever been in but it was consistent and relentless.

This is most of the remaining route from where I gained the southwest ridge. 
Very cool snow crystal formations on the rock at just under 14,000 feet.

I guess you'll just have to trust me that this is me and that I am standing on the summit. 
No views from the summit which is always a bit of a disappointment. I was glad to be at the top and I was glad to start descending. I had purchased some new OR gloves that were a huge improvement from my old ones. My hands still froze instantly when I removed my gloves to take some of these pictures. But they didn't stay frozen for long like they used to. Once off the ridge I began to warm up quickly and made good time getting off the mountain. I had my axe with me so I could enjoy a controlled slide down the mountain. I was able to slide down about 1000 vertical feet total. A huge break for the knees.

It took me about 5 hours to summit and just over two hours to get back to the car. There was another car parked next to mine when I arrived back. But I never saw a single soul the entire day. I had the whole mountain to myself.


  1. Very cool. You shouldnt be up there solo, but I know its hard to find hiking partners (I have the same issue with workout partners). How many peaks does this make? SS

    1. I prefer partners but it is hard sometimes. This was my 33rd 14,000 foot peak.

  2. If you are looking still for some climbing partners, I am located in Colorado Springs and would be interested in doing some climbs with you.