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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,036 feet
 Post Date:  07/01/2013 Modified: 07/02/2013
 Date Climbed:   06/22/2013
 Posted By:  SurfNTurf
 Additional Members:   MountainMedic, dmccool, binvers2, BenfromtheEast

 First Ascent on Shermapangma   


Named Mt. Sherman in 1881 for Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, most climbers instead opt to refer to this majestic mountain by its local name, Shermapangma. The stunning pyramid of black rock, shimmering ice and eternal snow is the crown jewel of the Rocky Mountains, and Shermapangma’s aesthetic lines have inspired generations of climbers to dare against the impossible.

Often called the world's most beautiful mountain.

For me, Shermapangma was something I'd never even dreamed of attempting. It was simply out of my league. I was content to limit myself to lesser mountains such as Capitol Peak, Little Bear Peak and Mt. Eolus, but as my peak list grew, so did my ambition. I heard the mountain’s siren song luring me every time I laid eyes on it from nearby summits. Alas, to attempt Shermapangma is the pinnacle of alpinism, and the skills of the fabled few who have touched its apex far surpass my own.

Then, I received a fateful phone call from Dan McCool. Our life-changing discussion centered on a pipe dream: the first alpine-ascent of the mythical Fischer Face, without bottled oxygen. His idea was so ludicrous I almost hung up the phone and unfriended him on Facebook. The route, named for a mountaineer who reached its base, looked up, and promptly quit climbing altogether to live a life as a missionary in the flatlands of Brazil, is a perfect storm of challenges.

First, one must complete an arduous one-mile approach through a region so desolate only the ruins of civilization still exist. The lack of inhabitants also means a lack of porters; prospective climbers must carry murderous 10- to 15-pound loads themselves. The face itself is a towering 100 feet high, the longest continuous mountain face in the world -- or at least within a quarter-mile radius. The only previous party to have attempted the face had to bivouac three times, hanging from ice screws, before retreating without reaching the top.

If by some miracle we surmounted the face, the route turns right and joins the standard South Col. From there the infamous Rangerguy2010 Step looms overhead, blocking easy access to the summit cone. The Rangerguy2010 Step had never been free climbed, and every successful Shermapangma summiter has relied on a ladder bolted to the rock by the Koreans in 1956.

My hands were sweating by the time I got off the phone with Dan. And yet, I’d agreed. A chance at the first ascent of the Fischer Face, followed by an attempt to free the Rangerguy2010 Step, was a once-in-a-lifetime proposition. I immediately began writing my Piolet d’Or acceptance speech. Now all we had to do was assemble a team.

Dan, expedition leader and world-class mountaineer.

Jeff, climbing leader and owner of Pyramid Peak.

Tyler was a logical choice as expedition doctor, but we were concerned about his rampant weight gain over the past year.

Ben, expedition janitor (except dishes).

Kate gets a real picture because I'd have to deal with the consequences otherwise.

The five-member team complete, we threw ourselves into training. We asked many questions on the Facebook group. We traveled to Texas to learn rope work from the master himself. We completed acclimatization climbs to Denali, Aconcagua and Makalu. Those three years flew by, and before we knew it we were waving goodbye to our loved ones at a Park and Ride in Morrison. I didn’t feel ready, but I’m not sure anyone can feel ready for something like Shermapangma. All we could do was try our best.

The first views of the Fischer Face would have made my wet myself, but I was wearing my Wrangler Technical Jorts so that’s not really possible. It didn’t take us long to have to rope up, as the consequences of slipping on a pebble were dire. Over the course of our training we’d become a well-oiled machine, almost moving faster as one as we could as individuals. Also I was in front and pulling on those slow bastards like Buck from Call of the Wild. If you don’t get that reference, please read more often. By the way, this is one of those expedition reports that airs dirty laundry.

Roping up.

Posing for the expedition blog.

Kate was underdressed and regretted her lack of jorts.

A pesky Himalayan Raven started following us.

The meandering approach crossed near several snowfields. We willow-wanded the route for safety in case of a sudden blizzard. Before long I called the rope team to a halt and belayed them in for a discussion. This was it. The Fischer Face rose endlessly into the sky above our heads, and the climbing was about to begin. I racked up our ice screws and snow pickets, then took a few moments to compose myself. As usual in these situations, I sang Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” to get psyched up. I’m a lot like Mark Twight in that regard (and most others).

By the end of the second verse, Tyler told me to shut up and start climbing or he’d cut the rope. It was on.

The climbing was initially easy. I climbed out almost 30 feet before placing my first screw, a risk that made Kate weep. We simul-climbed the first half of the face before it got too steep, and I brought Tyler in. I could see the fear in his eyes. He reminded me of Bambi. But deep down in his soul I saw a reserve of strength that would see us through. Just to be sure, I tossed a Twinkie up and over the top of the route to ensure Tyler didn’t want to turn back.

Me and Tyler, on Pitch 1 of the Fischer Face.

Climbing near a group of free-soloists on the South Col route.

The challenge awaits.

Dan, Kate and Ben rest at a belay station.

I hammered in a picket, my last piece of pro, and tentatively inched toward the overhanging summit mushroom. I paused at the base of it only long enough to take a breath and settle myself. Then I began the assault. It’s amazing the emotions that such climbing will bring. Alive, free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change. I realized I was singing again when Tyler threatened to yank me off the ice.

Finally, I reached up to sink my tool and hit only air. No. Could it be? Had we done it? A few more careful kicks and I was pulling over the lip, pausing only for a series of mandatory hero shots. My estimate is the crux went at WI9.

I brought the rest of the team up and we celebrated accordingly. Our joy was cut short, however, by the impressive tower of the Rangerguy2010 Step. We established a high camp on the South Col with the intention of staying overnight, but we’d climbed so well and the weather was holding perfectly. We agreed instead to take only a brief rest before mounting a summit attempt.

Calming myself before the crux pitch, with the pesky Raven still in tow.

Woody looks on as I begin my desperate assault.

On the Edge.


The rest of the team nears the crux summit mushroom.

A master at work.

Ben crushes the lip.

Dan crawls into his bivy, exhausted, as I set up my tent at Camp VIII.

This is what a mountaineer looks like.

Rejoining the standard South Col route, we began encountering other climbers. Almost all of these brave souls were free-soloing. I blame Alex Honnold.

The climbing was easy compared with what we’d just accomplished, but the insidious step waited above and the thin air began to take its toll without the aid of supplemental oxygen. We crawled our way upwards, often doubled over our ice axes trying desperately to fill our lungs.

The ascent rate was about 150 feet/hour in the Death Zone.

Traversing to the horrendous Rangerguy2010 Step, which had never been free-climbed.

Finally, we rounded a corner and came face-to-face with the glittering Korean ladder. Once it was removed, I racked up and began the treacherous lead, one that had never before been done. It soon became clear why. The crumbly dirt was so loose it wouldn’t accept protection, so I steeled my mind and continued the climb free-solo. The ascent was most eventful for those below me, as my modified Wrangler Technical Jorts provided quite the impressive display.

I couldn’t believe it. When I topped out, the summit pyramid and its easy slopes beckoned like an eager lover. The Rangerguy2010 Step was behind me. We had done it. I belayed the team up and we hardly even paused to consider our feat; the summit called. We more or less ran to up the final section and offered Shermapangma our thanks.

The Wrangler Technical Jorts, performing once again.

The rest of the team follows up the vanquished step.


A little man-love.

On top, we made a difficult choice. Kate had a small blister, Dan said he’d only slept like six hours the night before and I was starting to feel slightly hungry for a cheeseburger. It became clear we only had one option. I hit the “Free Helicopter Ride” button on my SPOT and prepared to be whisked down to the glory that now surely awaits all of us.

I want to thank Kate, Ben, Dan and Tyler for daring to dream the impossible. I look forward to seeing you all frequently this year at all of our awards ceremonies, and I hope you’ll be there when the time comes for an even more lofty goal: the never-before climbed Graysverest. We'll save that one for 14er No. 200...

Oh yeah, the point of all this was having a little fun on my 100th 14er.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Love it!     2013-07-01 17:04:25


Be careful with those jorts.....     2013-07-01 17:59:00
The mouse is nearly outta the house.....frostbite up in the death zone ”down there” probably would suck.

Great report by the way and thanks for the laughs !


Dude     2013-07-01 18:41:37
Seriously this is freaking brilliant. I almost peed myself several times laughing. The Rangerguy reference, tyler and the twinkie, the jorts. I am so mad I missed this.


Camp VIII     2013-07-02 11:41:58
Wow. I was there and I still can't believe it. Photo #4 got me all hot 'n bothered...but then I realized it was just nausea. Makin' memories, Jeffro. Congrats on #100


Question     2013-07-01 18:57:24
Having followed up the orange flags planted by your expedition leader, I, somehow, feel like I cheated and didn't feel the full wrath of the Shermanator, as I like to call it. I also blatantly trail poached. Glad you all got down safely. Most accidents happen on the descent and a few of you lads looked vulnerable to HAPE when you were coming down as I was on the ridgeline. I do want to note...I made summit without supplemental oxygen.

Brian Thomas

Shermapangpa     2013-07-01 18:59:24
I heard Park County charges the $8,000 permit fee, even if you're not going any higher than Base Camp! Is that true?


Awesome     2013-07-01 19:00:33
This is phenomenal!


I don't get it     2013-07-01 20:21:54
Is this for real? I thought this was supposed to be one of the easier 14eener's. Is it really that difficult?


Finally.....     2013-07-01 20:59:03
I've been waiting an entire week for this report.


This is gold.     2013-07-01 21:44:36
Thanks for the laughs

Dave B

i discovered today     2013-07-01 22:07:00
that I lack a sense of humor


Humor     2013-07-01 22:31:18
Love it. Glad you got this up - hilarious! Nice work on number 100, and thanks for the laughs!


Funniest Post of the Year!     2013-07-02 06:26:06
Camp VIII? Impressive man! NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!! You have just inspired me to run the Ft. Worth Cowton 5k!!!! It's been a dream of mine to run long distance...and now, after reading your death defying summit success on arguably the crown jewel of Mountaineering (In JORTS)...I now can stand with you and say...DAMN IT! I WILL RUN A 5K (IN JORTS)!!!!!!!!


Great!     2013-07-02 07:29:48
I absolutely love it! I needed that laugh!


Images #18, #26, #27 ...     2013-07-03 13:54:51
Dude, you're on the edge with those them views of the infamous jorts and accoutrements ... I was afraid we'd need to add a PG13 rating ... just sayin'. Ridiculously over-the-top hilarity. I don't know what you're wasting your life doing for your ”regular job” in order to afford climbing, but stop ... and pursue this idiocy right now. Happy trails!


Fantastic!     2013-07-02 08:13:10
At first I thought, ”A Sherman trip report with 14 comments and 17 likes?!” Then I saw who wrote it.

Way to bring yet another classic TR!


Awesome     2013-07-02 08:17:46
great laughs this morning, thanks!


HAHA     2013-07-02 08:24:04
Great for a laugh this morning! Loving the Rangerguy references! Thanks for that!


Wait...     2013-07-02 08:44:06
I'm almost positive that's the same tent TGC used on his four ascents of K2.


Awesome     2013-07-02 09:01:10
Hilarious with a capital H.


Epicc     2013-07-02 09:05:05
I tried Sherman last year but I got turned away at the RangerGuy Steppe. The winds were gusting up to 500 mph and it was -35 C so we decided to do an emergency descent by rapelling down the Fischer Face. We barely survived with all our extremeties intact.

Maybe I need a red mountaineering suit the next time we attempt it.

You could call it ”the Everest of the West”


I'm calling you out!     2013-07-02 09:45:20
You never used any of your marker flags AND those are not real Tibetan prayer flags either, colors are all wrong. Were you really even on Sherman?


Thrilling stuff     2013-07-02 09:46:59
My heart was pounding the entire time I was last, I can truly see how great a mountaineer you are at your fullest capabilities! Thank goodness for that ”Free Helicopter Ride” button, eh?

After this ambitious climb, I believe you just may be capable of one of the world's great mountaineering routes: the Northeast Ridge of Gasherbross IV!


Good stuff     2013-07-02 11:24:23
Best trip report EVER!!


Hah!     2013-07-02 11:40:15
That is all.


Impressive     2013-07-02 12:13:21
Carrying all that gear (particularly the tent) shows your dedication to hyperbole. I could almost believe in the ropes -- maybe you wanted a little snow-climbing walkabout/practice (maybe with some n00bs?) in what remains of Sherman's gentle snow, but when the ice climbing tools, tent and sleeping bag came out, it was on...

Thank goodness you were able to avoid Camp IX -- it's over on the Gemini side for people who accidentally overshoot Sherman's summit. Smells like patchouli...


5-6th ascent up Shermapangma?     2013-07-02 13:39:40
Time to start your guide service soon!


Ya!     2013-07-02 13:56:08
Now you own both Pyramid and Shermapangma!! Good work and congrats on 100!


Hilarious     2013-07-02 15:10:45
The pictures of you roped up, in jorts, hiking Mt. Sherman are the funniest pictures I've seen.


Funniest Thing I've Read In While     2013-07-02 15:46:02
Good work. And excellent staging for the photos.

Thanks for putting this together.


you     2013-07-02 16:56:14
douchebags! freaking love it. glad you had fun


Truly a gem of humor...     2013-07-02 17:35:56
”Tyler told me to shut up and start climbing or he’d cut the rope.”


Impressive ...     2013-07-02 21:13:38
... the whole team made it without supplemental oxygen ...


Fischer Face     2013-07-02 22:02:34
Can we get this thing officially named to the Fischer Face? I can't think of a better way to be immortalized in Colorado mountaineer lore.


Favorite Line     2013-07-02 22:49:30
”Finally, I reached up to sink my tool and hit only air...”

May your mountaineering make you famous, may your sexual technique keep you humble. Way to go Team!


Superb.     2013-07-03 07:16:35
I cannot lie....I just Peed my pants a little.


A Great Laugh!     2013-07-03 09:29:05
Just when you think you seen it all. Well Done, great trip report and photos


Classic     2013-07-05 11:03:14
My son & I loved this... Sherman was his 1st 14er last year. At 9-yrs-old, even he picked up on the sarcasm. Classic.


Hilarious     2013-07-05 16:11:15
I'm laughing my ass off right now! So funny! Well done on the climbing jorts!


Book deal     2013-07-07 12:29:04
These TRs should be syndicated!!!


Great report     2013-07-07 21:43:51
you had me at ”I was content to limit myself to lesser mountains such as Capitol Peak, Little Bear Peak and Mt. Eolus,” I chose to climb this as my 14er finisher and now almost a year later I realize why! Great TR.


Brilliant     2013-07-07 23:05:12
concept, climb, pics and TR!
Thank God you didn't have an emergency that required use of your escape kits... or worse yet the services of Colorado's ”poorly organized and amateur” rescue organizations.

Geoff (aka ”the dude at REI” and a 10-year volunteer with CO SAR)


Wow     2013-07-08 17:39:16
This is the most incredible thing I have ever read. Love it!


Freakin' hilarious!!     2013-07-18 09:10:17
This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time! Kudos you brave souls.


Brilliant!     2013-07-28 16:21:53
I burst out laughing and couldn't stop at, ”Dan crawls into his bivy, exhausted, as I set up my tent at Camp VIII.”

Mel McKinney

Whatever...     2014-02-18 12:10:34
I've climbed Shermapangma, like three times. However, I didn't get a free helicopter ride.

Funny stuff. Thank you!


Humbled...     2014-05-15 16:46:50
... at the sheer and unmistakable bravery of you fine souls, risking your very lives.
I may have to consider adding the Wrangler Technical Jorts to my 14er Critical Survivor Pack. Clearly they make the difference.
Eagerly awaiting the tale of Graysverest... LOL.

Thanks for the best laugh I've had in awhile

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