| 05/10/2005 - Fourmile Creek
I hiked Mt Sherman yesterday, May 10, from the Fourmile Creek TH. I expected a lot of snow, just not quite that much.
CR 18 had not been plowed recently and there were a few thick snow patches; maybe no big deal for a 4WD SUV, but I was in a front-wheel drive passenger car (I know, bad decision, long story). The early morning hard snow was passable enough to make it to the 10-mile mark, just shy of the Leavick building ruins, before encountering road snow too deep for my comfort.
I walked in regular hiking boots until just above the Gate, then strapped on the snow shoes (MSR EVO Ascents, highly recommended). I followed some earlier tracks up to the Hilltop Mine and faced my first real challenge. The standard route up to the Sheridan-Sherman saddle clearly wouldnt work. The road was buried in snow, and the saddle ridge was highly corniced and, in my opinion and ability, impassable. I made one attempt to gain the ridge on the Sheridan side of the saddle at what looked like a gap in the cornice, but was unsuccessful as the snow got just too deep and steep to continue. I retreated back to the Mine and developed an alternate plan.
From the Mine, I hiked about 200 yards up Shermans south face, and then did a long ascending traverse over to the southwest ridge. It was a little after 10AM and fortunately the snow was still firm. I finally gained the ridge well above the saddle, and clear of the cornice. Once on the ridge, it was a steady grind up to the summit, staying on snow pack the entire way. The number of false "summits" was both surprising and frustrating. When I reached the top, I wasnt sure which hill was the true summit, so I just hiked over to farthest and stopped. There was a LOT of snow on the summit.
The view was spectacular! The sky was clear, there was no wind, and all the snow-covered peaks surrounding me were gorgeous! It was truly a "high and white" experience!
The trip down was slow and careful, placing my snowshoes in the same prints I made coming up. The snow was softer now, and I was very careful on the descending traverse of the south face, using my trekking poles for "4-legged drive". Back at the car, my GPS said I did 9.24 miles, so my failed attempt at the saddle ridge probably cost me 3/4 of a mile.
I plan to do another snowshoe 14er in the next couple weeks, perhaps Quandry.
PS: My car got real stuck in the (now quite soft) road snow when I tried to leave. Fortunately I had excellent cell phone reception and was able to call for a tow truck. It arrived 3 hours later and got me out safely. But thats a story for another time and another forum...