RT Time: 7h30m
RT Mileage: 10.5 mi
Total Elevation: 3227 ft
A friend and I became acquainted/addicted with winter 14ers with a Black Friday ascent of Quandary so we decided to take the next step and try Sherman on Saturday. We left the Springs at around 5:00 and had an uneventful drive until about halfway down the Fourmile Creek road when we spotted a giant bull moose hanging out in the creek, staring us down curiously.
Moose off Fourmile Creek Road
I was able to drive (Subaru Outback) until about 10,900 when the road became pretty snowpacked and hadn't been plowed nor driven on since the previous snowfall. The tires were spinning a bit and figuring this was a bad place to get the car stuck, we decided this would be our trailhead. We geared up as the sun hit the peaks to the west and started hiking the road, waiting anxiously for our fingers to regain feeling.
It was obvious that no one had been on the trail in a while as there were no tracks to follow and we broke trail for most of the way up the road, until we entered a more windblown area beyond the Leavick mine. It was rough going with 6-8 inches of powder and we began to regret leaving the snowshoes in the car, opting only for Microspikes instead.
Snowpack on the Road
Road Finally Clears Up
Looks Windy Up There
After the first mine, a fierce wind presented itself for the first time and provided only a small preview of what would come later. We bundled up with masks and goggles and pressed on. We continued up the road, passing the road closure gate and all the mine detritus, and into the upper basin below Sherman and Sheridan. The wind was blowing quite ridiculously as we looked for the route up to the Sherman-Sheridan saddle and pondered how much worse the wind would get on the ridge.
This section proved to be the most difficult because the snow was quite deep here - anywhere from 1-3 feet - and the route to the saddle was not very obvious. I'm not sure if we missed something, but having no tracks to follow, we picked our way up a snow-covered boulder field on a pretty steep slope before finally pulling ourselves up over a snowbank and onto the saddle, getting blasted with both an intense wind and an amazing view of the snow-caked Sawatch.
Lunch Before the Saddle
After getting the saddle, it was just a matter of fighting the arctic hurricane as we clamored up the ridge, just putting our heads down and trying not to get blown over, but every so often taking glances around as more and more snow-crusted peaks revealed themselves. After cresting the final false summit we made the easy walk over to the proper summit and settled in to enjoy the surroundings. Amazingly, the wind actually eased up on the summit and we were able to relax for about 15 minutes, grab a bite and take some photos before the wind kicked back up and feeling began to leave my fingers.
Massive and Elbert From Summit
Looking Back on the Ridge
We were back to the saddle in no time, negotiated the sketchy descent down the snow slope we'd come up and met back up with the road below the Hilltop mine. The rest of the afternoon was just a long trek back to the car, the most mundane part being another post-holing adventure the final two miles down the road, all-the-while thinking that it seemed to be taking much longer than on the way up.
While we were pretty happy with our accomplishment, we were surprised at how much more difficult this was than Quandary, especially since they are similarly rated and often suggested as good first winter 14ers. I'm sure it was the combination of parking farther down the road than we anticipated, breaking trail up and down the road, and fighting the wind for 90% of the day that added up to us being pretty exhausted by the end of it. But, most surprising - pleasantly I would add - was that we didn't see another person the entire day.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.