| Sherman Summit Ski Descent
Fourmile Creek Road near 11,000'
White Ridge SE Slopes
Saddle from White Ridge to Sherman
Ski Descent of Sherman SE ridge to SW slopes
-Elevation Climbed: 3,200'
-Vert skied: 3,200'
-Mileage RT: 7.5 miles
- Round Trip Time: 5 hours
Some wildlife on the way up
Ascent to White Ridge:
The weekend's weather and an inability of me to find climbing partners led to a backup plan: Sherman. After sleeping in on Sunday I headed up to the Fourmile Creek Road which is snowed in at 11,000'. My skins were sliding at noon. Cold temps make this start time a possibility which is nice since sleep is valuable. I wasn't sure how much new snow had actually fallen in the area as forecast predicted anything from 4 to 12 inches through the previous three days. Being solo meant I should choose a very avalanche safe route, White Ridge was in my sites.
Sheep and Lamb mountains from near 11,000' on the Fourmile Creek Road
The terrain from the fourmile creek road at 11,000' to tree line on the SE slopes of White Ridge is a mix of dense pine, aspen and grass/mud slopes. Snowcover ranged from several feet to nothing. The snow was heavy and loved my skins. They were so freaking heavy after a few hundred feet I didn't use them again until the final 400' of the climb. Instead I skinned using my skis alone, which worked fair enough.
Within the trees on the way to White Ridge
The snowcover ended shortly before tree line, so I booted up mud and grass slopes.
Looking back toward Sheep Mountain with a clear cut in the foreground
The terrain ahead consisted of willow thickets and grassy slopes.
The lower SE slopes of White Ridge
As I crested tree line, the first of many short waves of moisture filled South Park to the east. The weather was clearly becoming an upslope. Visibility dropped and compass headings ensued. The vertical through this rolling terrain was gentle but seemed to take forever. A break was in store…
Taking a break below the summit of White Ridge
Eventually I found myself on the White Ridge summit, which had a register from a while back. Periodically I could see bits of the route ahead through the heavy clouds…
Looking along the long drawn out ridgeline toward my goal
White Ridge to Sherman, Hiking in a Space:
I wasn't really feeling in to the climb today. Perhaps too little food yesterday? Anyway, I was able to ski down the White Ridge to the saddle with Sherman. Drifts of snow several feet thick have built in leeward areas through this area.
Looking back at White Ridge from the Sherman/White Ridge Saddle
This is when the day got interesting. I knew I only needed to ascend 400' to Sherman in a NW direction up gentle slopes. I headed out and immediately all I could see was this…
It takes a degree of mental focus to not loose it when you can't see anything but featureless white wasteland and all it takes for vertigo to set in is to look up from your skis. My eyes were playing tricks on me generating fake ridgelines and non-existent sastrugi features in the white background. I debated upon turning around, but the summit was close and the terrain was non-threatening. I just needed to plow on and find the top. Eventually I was there.
A post on the summit with an empty register
Sherman Summit Ski Descent:
There were feet upon feet of snow on the summit built into disorganized cornices. The weather was doing its best to simulate winter. Time to ski. I headed back down the southeast slopes keeping one eye on my skin track to avoid vertigo. Back at the saddle things began to clear up. The southwest slopes off the saddle have a foot or more of fresh snow on them, but no base below. This made for tricky turns through thin terrain. If your looking for a tough ski, these K2 Seth Vicious skis I have had taken a beating beyond what most skiers will dish out and they have no issues.
Turns through the SW slopes of Sherman
The views of Sheridan and the mines in the basin below Sherman were outstanding. I hit this at the perfect time for sure.
The loading below the cornice behind the mines is probably 2+' deep and likely very unstable. I noticed some fractures propagating from my turns on the SW face which has far less snow and many more anchor points. The rest of the basin was well coated. Following a drainage out I found a crazy terrain trap.
Terrain trap in the basin below Sherman's south face
Needless to say I hiked up and around it. The road out involved forty minutes of skiing as the snow was sticky.
Good coverage for this basin. Some Horseshoe mountain beta…