Sherman via IA gulch - snowshoes and big Jeeps rock
Ready to put some new snowshoes to work, I easily got my friend Brian to sign up for an attempt at Sherman, fully expecting to start from the turnoff 3 miles from the summer trailhead. Brian has already been an animal above treelike these last few months but this would be my first 14er of the year, and due to the horrible ski season, definitely the most outdoor physical effort I'd signed up for in a while. Staying in Leadville the previous evening we had a chance to check out the TH and was pleasantly surprised that even in the dark we could drive 1.5 miles up the road. We decided that would let us sleep in a bit, yay! Heading out of the Leadville Super 8 at 7am we were ready to see how far his Jeep would get us up the road. We ended up breaking trail on the road in just a few inches of snow and made it 2.5 miles up the road. At this section there are large drifts in the road that slope towards a big rollover off the right side of the road. SO we parked there and headed up the road on all 4 feet. Note: driver of said Jeep darkhelmet1983 updated the trailhead status for Iowa Gulch in better detail a day or 2 ago for better info from the actual driver. I just sat there drinking my obligatory morning Mountain Dew humming Master of Puppets going up the road. I didn't even take any pics of the fresh snow in front of us on the road. Oops.
Master of Puppets is good for everything, including hiking
Arriving at the summer trailhead, we donned the snowshoes which we left on until we were past the narrowest part of the gully, probably around 12,500'-12,600'. The snowshoeing was rather good and we also gave ourselves a nice trail to follow back (although the wind did do a decent job of filling in our tracks).
In the gully:
We climbed the snow gully 2nd to the right (not the longest one, see photo where you can see the snowshoe tracks) to a point where it intersected the summer trail and we stashed our snowshoes there and continued on. It was easy foot travel up to the Sherman/Sheridan saddle. From there we could see it would be a pretty dry approach from there on. It's a good thing we couldn't see the exfoliating winds that would greet us on the ridge because it would have made it worse looking forward to it!
Looking down the gully. You can see our snowshoe tracks going up and about where we stashed the snowshoes.
Looking back to the Sherman/Sheridan saddle around 13,300'-13,400.
The snow on the summit ridge was easily manageable, not worth lugging the snowshoes the extra 1,500' or so at all. We both had crampons just in case but they ended up being dead weight. Brian carried his axe to look cool. I wish I brought mine just for the chance to glissade down more and play with it/do some arrest practice. Oh well nothing that steep is even possible on this route.
Like I said earlier, the winds up high were PAINFUL like sand was hitting our faces. We decided adding Gemini and/or Dyer at this point just didn't sound like fun at all so after a few quick summit shots we began the easy descent, dreams of hot food and cold beer being talked about in abundance.
And I learned I should check my nose before taking very cold summit photos in the future...
A few more photos
I wish we had better photos of the ridge to Dyer but our goal never continued on to there so neither of us ended up with good (or really, any) photos of the ridge and I apologize, someone was asking me about that. I'm sure it's doable but I'd say that if you can come up with a ski line off Dyer, way to go! All in all it was great to link up with an old friend and finally bag a peak with him - thanks Brian, can't wait for the next one!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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