| Mount Sherman in March - Fourmile Creek
As I graduate student in Illinois, I've been slowly hacking away at the 14ers since 2000, bagging the summits closest to Denver and Breckenridge, where my friends live. I was looking for an easy winter 14er last weekend and attempted Mount Sherman, 14,036 feet. The only other 14er I climbed in winter was Mount Bierstadt, almost exactly two years earlier, and while it was a long climb, it was also fairly calm and safe. Mount Sherman was only slightly more exciting.
My companions and I left Breckenridge just after 7am and were able to drive a Subaru Forrester up the Fourmile Creek road to 11,000 feet. The road was snow-free up to this point and two other vehicles were parked here. We donned snowshoes and started climbing just after 8am.
We passed the old Leavick site after about a half mile and hiked under sunny skies. The road up to the gate at 12,100 feet was clear of snow in many places, but we were also able to keep our snowshoes off the dirt and rock most of the way.
I felt like I was huffing and puffing just to get to the gate and the climb hadn't even really started yet. My flatlander lungs were gasping to keep up with my Colorado companions. One foot after another, stopping frequently, but briefly, and keeping a steady pace. We took a roundabout route on the way up, for no apparent reason, and chose a fairly steep face of snow/talus to climb up.
A few hundred feet from the ridge, the wind started to rip and I felt like I could be blown over, left to roll down the rocks, wasting energy and negating progress. Proceeding like a drunken mountaineer, I stumbled my way up the face, using the upwind gusts to propel my hurried steps up the slope. I could only imagine how windy the saddle and summit would be.
The steepness of our chosen path suggested that an ice ax would have been useful, but we were able to kick nice footholds in the crusty snow. Once on the summit ridge, the wind was calmer and we reveled in the satisfaction of another summit surmounted. We reached the summit at 12:20pm, after about 4 hours of climbing.
We descended down the gradual slope of the east face , sliding down the snowfield on our bums and eventually turning south and down a gully to the road. After a nice lunch break, we returned to our vehicle about 3pm. The hike was just over 3,000 feet and took 7 hours to complete. Although we used snowshoes to complete the climb, they weren't really necessary. Crampons would have been nice for a small portion of the route , but overall, the climb was pretty easy. It was exactly what I had anticipated.
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