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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,036 feet
 Post Date:  12/04/2011 Modified: 12/06/2011
 Date Climbed:   12/03/2011
 Posted By:  RJansen77
 Additional Members:   Upstate Hiker, tmathews, SurfNTurf, dillonsarnelli, Brian Thomas

 Whiteout on Mount Sherman   

"Is this safe?"

Those were the first words out of SurfNTurf's mouth as he greeted me on his front porch at 5:30am Saturday morning. Curtains of white were descending upon Denver, and I felt more inclined to grab my planks and Epic Local Pass than my ice axe and microspikes. Despite the heavy snow in town that morning, SurfNTurf, Breanna, Dillon and myself drove up to Fairplay and met Brian Thomas and upstatehiker for an attempt on Mount Sherman. Driving up the snowy Fourmile Creek Road, we met up with Terry (tmathews) about 0.9 miles below the Leavick Mine site and geared up. The snow here was maybe 8-10 inches of powder over a packed base, and it got deeper as our group of seven set off up the road around 8:30am.


Image
Looking up the Fourmile Creek Road


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The group hiking up


Most of the group started in snowshoes and stashed them near the gate on the road. We then changed into microspikes as the terrain steepened. Conditions above the gate were anywhere from 2 inches of powder to knee-deep drifts. It didn't seem that any consolidated snow was sitting under the powder, as we regularly slipped downhill on the loose scree underneath.

Image
Terry after the gate


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Jeff made some wands the night before in case of a whiteout. While conditions weren't too dire, they were used nonetheless.


We meandered towards the mine buildings, trying to avoid deep postholing and elevation loss when possible.
Image
Looking up toward Sheridan


Once we passed the highest mine buildings, we were faced with the decision to take the direct snow climb to the ridge or the long, gradual route that switchbacked above the mine buildings. We all had microspikes on, and elected to take the direct line to the ridge. It wound up being much shorter than we had all anticipated, and the slope was composed of great step-kicking snow; firm enough to take weight but soft enough for good purchase with boots. We gained the ridge quickly and stared up at the summit ridge.
Image
Dillon approaching snow climb to the ridge


Image
Breanna, Jeff and Terry


Image
Looking up the summit ridge


Image
Mount Sheridan


The forecast had called for cloudy skies with 1-3 inches of snow, but visibility had improved on our approach. Alas, that changed in an instant when we reached the ridge, as the wind picked up, the clouds moved in, and we all agreed the temperature dropped ~15 degrees in a ~90 minute time span with the loss of the sun.

Image
Jeff, Breanna and Terry in deteriorating conditions


We continued climbing the ridge, while the conditions changed from blue sky above, to foggy and everything in between. It made for some neat conditions and really gave you that "milk bottle" feeling!

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Dillon on the ridge


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Dillon climbing the ridge


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Looking back at Dillon and Terry


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The final push


The ghostly figure of Dillon appears.
Image
Dillon appears out of the smoke


We reached the summit around 2:35pm, and lingered in the whiteout only to take a few pictures and grab some water. The only view we caught besides those of the greater Sherman massif was a 30 second glimpse of the upper reaches of Massive and Elbert. We knew we would have to boogie if we wanted to reach the cars by dark, and we started the descent around 2:50pm.

Image
Approaching the summit


Image
Dillon, myself and Terry on the summit


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Terry descending the snow slope from the ridge with Dillon having glissaded below


Image
White Ridge looking cold


Image
A chilly hike out


We scurried down toward the road, and once we hit the gate thoughts of food and beer sent us into cruise control. Upon reaching the cars around 4:50pm, Terry informed us that his dashboard was reading a temperature of -3F. By the time we reached Fairplay for a post-climb meal, it had dropped to -11F! Thank goodness it was uncharacteristically calm up there.

It was great climbing with you guys, lets do it again soon!

If you have questions about the road / route conditions, feel free to PM me. Thanks for reading!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
EmmaM


SO MUCH SNOW!     2011-12-04 19:10:39
Wow. Things can really change in a week.


nkan02


Sherman is almost ready for skiing!     2011-12-04 19:18:24
I felt more inclined to grab my planks and Epic Local Pass than my ice axe and microspikes.

Good thing you did not! There was NO new snow in Breckenridge on Saturday.


Monster5


Congrats!     2011-12-04 22:18:26
Looks like a well-earned summit.


dillonsarnelli


brrrrrrrr     2011-12-05 08:41:58
My first post... I guess I can officially climb 14ers now that i have a screen name. This was a great trip with great people. I think we realized how cold it actually was when our bare hands froze to the ice axes back at the car... Jeff - thanks for putting it together, Rob - well done report. See you all soon.


SurfNTurf


Still can't feel my fingers     2011-12-05 09:49:48
Talk about cold! Thanks for putting together this nice trip report Rob, it was a great day in the mountains despite everything.


greglohr


Can't wait!     2011-12-05 13:13:45
Wow, great looking climb guys. I'm doing this in 3 weeks and I'm pretty excited!


Dancesatmoonrise


Nice     2011-12-06 09:17:48
Sherman can sure throw some interesting weather this time of year, huh?

Looks like a fun trip. Nice write-up and photos, Rob!


MountainHiker


Nice report.     2011-12-06 11:01:32
Wintery! One of the many faces Sherman can show you!


tmathews

Yo     2011-12-06 15:29:09
Great seeing you guys again!



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