Start Elevation: 11,305 ft. (Leavick)
Summit Elevation: 14,036 ft.
Elevation Gain: 2731 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 6.39 mi
TRIP REPORT:The last time I was up Mt. Sherman was August 3, 1992. That happened to be only my second 14er hike and being so young and so new at this, it was a rough one for me. The one thing that really stuck in my head from Sherman was how windy it was. I can recall hitting the Sherman-Sheridan saddle and the wind was just awful the whole summit ridge.
Fast forward 19 years and we are looking for a great option at our 2nd attempted winter ascent. After having summited Quandary Peak last March and fallen in love with the winter hiking, we decided another attempt was in order. We found a short window here in February 2011 to make this happen (2 hiking days to be precise) and settled upon Sherman for our first. The earliest weather reports had this day pegged at a high in the 20s with mostly sunny skies. As the days grew nearer to the hike the weather began to deteriorate. Last we checked, the forecast was for highs around 10 with wind chills and a low in the -15 range. Winds would be in the 20-30mph range and a 30% chance of snow with clouds. Well, with a window such as we had, we would find a way to endure the cold, just praying for no white-out conditions.
We arrived at the trailhead right around 7am. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the road had been plowed all the way up to the Leavick mining site.
|Pano of Peerless, Sheridan, Sherman, White Ridge|
As we hiked closer to Sherman though, the winds began to pick up. About 3/4 mile in on the road we decided to take off the snowshoes and mount them on our packs. The road was in just that good of condition that you were on rocks or hard snow almost the whole time. About a half mile later, at around 11700, the winds were really beginning to howl at us and so another stop was in order to put on goggles and balaclava. I was starting to wonder if my nose was going to fall off.
We hit the gully at the base of White Ridge at about 2.2 miles in and 12500 in elevation. We ascended towards the right side of the gully trying to stick near the rocks as much as possible since we were in boots. There was some minor postholing going on at times (3-6 inches). We again paused around 12,700 to put the ole snowshoes back on as we wanted the great flotation and we were also to the point where the traction on the steeper slopes was also helpful. It was about 13000 and 2.5 miles in that we got our first good look at the point where you turn due north and make a bee-line for the summit. By our reckoning this point was at 2.68 miles in and 13200 in elevation. The hiking of the gully to that point was a work-out but still enjoyable.
After 13200 the slope begins to get much steeper. It was also at that point we had a great trail debate as to whether to ascend the rocks to our northeast to gain the saddle or basically "run the ball up the middle" and stick to the snow headed straight for the summit. Liking our snowshoes we decided "up the middle". This began nicely but at around 13450 the slope angle hit 40 degrees and didn't let up. The surface snow was also mostly soft which meant with each step we took we could lose half of it from slippage. About 100 feet into this we could spy what looked like the flatter portions of the saddle and we started veering northeast to hit these quicker.
As we descended, starting around 13900 we started contouring to the east hoping to gain the flatter saddle sooner. We were also still contemplating a descent on the rocks. About 60 feet into this contour I decided I liked the look of the slope and just headed straight down.
TRACKS:I have two tracks taken from this hike. One is of the ascent route and one of the descent route. It is rather interesting actually to compare the two as our route varied somewhat between. On the descent we tried to avoid some of the steeper sections near the top and we also had some variations in search for a good glissade slope. Here is the KML download: