| Snow and Wind on Sherman (West Slopes)
There are two routes to climb Mt. Sherman, approaching either from the west via Leadville or from the east via Fairplay. The route via Fairplay is considered the standard route, probably because it is closer to Denver. Coming up from Salida, I chose the Leadville side, primarily because Leadville had more to offer in accommodations and dining.
Driving east from Leadville, the turnoff for Mt. Sherman from Lake County 2 onto Lake County 2B is well marked:
The road is indeed rough. Be careful. I scraped bottom once in the Ford Taurus rent car that I was driving.
After driving about three miles on the rough dirt road, you will see in
the distance an abandoned mine building. Pull off and park near these
There‘s a sporadic trail across Iowa Gulch until you reach the west slope of Sherman, where the trail becomes very well defined. Mt. Sheridan is in the center of this picture, with the west slope of Mt. Sherman to the left:
There was quite a bit of snow, not only across Iowa Gulch, but also on the west slope of Sherman. I didn‘t have any trouble with the snow, as I was able to avoid postholing by stepping in the footprints of previous hikers:
The route from Iowa Gulch up to the saddle between Sherman and Sheridan is well-marked with numerous cairns:
Here‘s a view of Sherman from the saddle:
Once I reached the saddle there wasn‘t much snow, but the wind picked up. There‘s no way to show it in the pictures that I took, but wind was absolutely brutal. I would estimate 40-50 m.p.h. winds, with gusts up to 60 m.p.h.
From the saddle, there is a braid of trails on the slope leading to the
ridge. Pick whichever trail suits you, as all trails lead to the ridge:
A view of the summit from near the top of the slope leading to the ridge:
A view from the ridge to the west:
On the ridge I found temporary shelter from the fierce winds in a recess within a huge rock. I stopped to rest, and found that the water in the necks of my water bottles had frozen. Fortunately, I was able to break the ice with my thumb and hydrate for the final push to the summit. I left my backpack here for the final push:
A closer view of the final summit pitch:
Finally, some views from the summit:
Oddly, the wind at the summit, although fierce, was not quite as bad as the wind at the saddle and on the ridge. And the wind at the trail head was calm both at the start and at the end of my hike.
After the hike I thought about the line from the movie "The Perfect Storm" that goes something like "The Grand Banks in October are no joke." The winds on Sherman in November are no joke either.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):