Monday, July 1, 2013

Mount Sherman

Mount Sherman

A few of my friends wanted to get out and climb a 14er this weekend.  They didn’t have to even twist my arm.  We chose Mount Sherman, since I think this is the easiest 14er and a good way to get introduced to high altitude climbing in Colorado.  The original plan had eight of us heading up together, but as we left our meet-up location only five of us were on the way to Sherman: Chris, Angie, Craig, Brian and myself. 
We met at the Meyer Ranch Lot off of 285 around 5:30 and were soon off after everyone arrived.  From Meyer Ranch it is about an hour and a half drive to the TH of Sherman.  Since we could all fit in one vehicle Craig offered to drive his minivan, so we were off in style. Shortly after the Four Mile Creek turn-off the road turns to dirt for the last 12 miles.  This can take some time, but any operational vehicle could make it.  As we arrived there was a good 20 cars already at the TH.  The parking near the gate was full so we parked about 100 vertical feet below in a pull out.
The Crew on the Summit
Chris, Angie and Craig on the Route
Not long after we arrived at the TH we were off up the dirt road.  It was a little chilly and the sky was blue, so a good start for a 14er.  One of the nice things about this mountain, is it is never hidden so you can visibly see yourself getting closer every step.  I got off to a quick pace and after the first quarter mile slowed down after I heard people gasping for air.  We set on a much slower pace after that since I didn’t think the weather would be an issue for us.  The first section of the hike weaves around some old mining equipment of the Dauntless Mine then you work on gaining the ridge.  There was still some good chunks of snow hanging onto the ridge, so we made our way around the snow on the ascent.  Now that we were on the ridge we were half way there, 1,000ft to go but in a much more direct line.
Once on the ridge the wind had picked up which is a common trait of ridges.  I put on my light jacket as did the others and we were off on the ridge.  There is a good trail leading the entire ridge.  But, now the “ants” were out and the mountain was well covered in numerous groups of people.  A good reason to get a real early start is to avoid a lot of this congestion.  It was nice on the ridge because it’s more of a route than the road leading to the ridge, so now Chris and Angie were getting a feel of what 14ers were really like.  They did very well keeping up with the pace the entire way.  It is definitely a different place with a lack of oxygen and they both adapted well to it.
After a few false humps along the ridge we finally made it to the long summit ridge.  I think everyone was glad to see the mob of people at the summit since that meant we were nearly there.  The wind was quite frigid along the ridge and clouds were building so we would lose the sun here and there making it really chilly at times.  The view all around was pretty clear as long as you could dodge the other humans.  It was a bit after 10am and the clouds were starting to build up so after some photos and a little fuel we decided it was time to head back down.
Sheridan Covered in a Cloud
We took our time heading down the route so nobody injured themselves.  With our group heading down we had to step off the trail numerous times to give right of way to uphill climbers, this gets pretty old after a bit and is probably one reason I enjoy 13ers or 14ers, since there is rarely anybody else on the trail.  Brian and Craig were contemplating on adding Sheridan as another mountain today, but the cloud build up sent us all down the mountain as hoards of people continued upward.  One of the best skills in the high mountains is your ability to read the weather and I fear that not many people on Sherman had that ability.
Now we were back the main ridge on the long saddle and had to figure a way down or around the snow.  Some people were recklessly glissading, apparently a pile of rocks at the end of the glissade doesn’t deter too many people.  Well it deterred us; we hiked across one section of snow till I deemed it was safe to slide down.  I went first and it was a nice short slide that was not dangerous so everyone followed.  On the photo album link you can view each person in the group making their glissade.  After getting over the snow, it was a nice hike down the road to the car.  I was amazed to see that people were still heading up after 11am, but it really shouldn’t shock me.
Everyone did great, and I hope Chris and Angie got a bit of a “bug” so they will come out and do this again.  It’s always fun introducing people into the high mountains, so let me know if you want to try something new, I’m always up for a repeat.  I’m off to Idaho this week, but hope to get back and do a few 14ers in the next few weeks.
GPS Track

Date: 6/30/2013
Starting Elevation: 11,903ft
Mount Sherman Summit: 14,009ft
Total Gained Elevation: 2,200ft
Distance: 5.53 miles
Time: 3:29 moving, 1:15 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Chris, Angie, Craig, Brian

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