| Perfect weekend double: Yale + Sherman
First, for those of you who were NOT outdoors and on a 14er this past weekend, I offer my condolences. Although the weather forecast was sketchy, it turned out to be one of the most perfect weekends I‘ve experienced in the high country!
I made my way to Denny Creek on Saturday, just before 7am. One other car arrived at the same time, and the hiker started up the trail about five minutes ahead of me. I stopped him to see if he had snowshoes, since I was unsure about lugging mine along. Peer pressure is strong, so I left the ‘shoes in the car! Clouds over the collegiates:
After a scenic, but uneventful hike through the woods, I met up with my fellow hiker (he already posted a great trip report, George Kaplan) at a set of large boulders, trying to figure out the route. We informally joined forces (more like I followed him the rest of the way up the mountain!) Up the ridge:
There had been at least four hikers on this route on the previous day, and they apparently missed the crucial turn-off in the woods for the standard route. Upon further review, there is a cairn at this junction, but it was drifted over. No matter, we pressed on. As long as you‘re going uphill, it‘s all good!
This improvised route got us to the pointy ridge that lies directly south of the Yale summit. It‘s an intimidating view from there! We traversed a small snow field which got us to the bottom of the steep slope, and back to the standard route again. It was a difficult slog to this point, but there wasn‘t much snow to battle. Clouds starting to clear over the Yale summit:
The rest of the climb was uneventful, but awesome. The clouds cleared out just as we reached the ridge, so we dropped our packs and climbed the rest of the way up to the summit. The ice crystals on the rocks made for some beautiful scenery, and the ice was too crusty to be slick. The scramble was fairly easy, and we stood on top by about 12:30pm. Ben leading the scramble up to the summit:
Cheesy summit photo:
Looking south over the Collegiates from the summit:
After locating the correct route on the descent, we broke that trail in properly for the three climbers remaining up top, who would be coming down in partial darkness. We hit the trailhead at precisely 4:20pm, wrapping up a perfect day on Yale! Back at the trailhead:
Since my time in Colorado was limited, I scheduled myself for double-duty with a trip to Sherman on Sunday. I was very concerned about the weather, as the forecast was calling for an ugly mix of rain, snow, lightning, locusts, etc. Sunrise on CR18 heading for Sherman:
I was going to park at the Leavick site, but decided to continue driving all the way to the gate. The way I see it, parking at Leavick still wouldn‘t get me 3,000ft of vertical, and although it would get me a couple more miles, those are not exactly scenic miles. I was willing to "cheat" a little bit to maximize my chances for beating the weather to the summit!
I was utterly alone on the mountain, which was odd. . .but I guess the weather scared everyone off. No complaints here! It was a balmy 14 degrees when I started up at 7:15am, but the sun was poking through. Looking up toward Sherman on the approach:
I followed the standard route up beyond the Hilltop Mine, with little resistance from snow. There was a singular set of tracks from Saturday, and I studied their direction. It looks like the hiker went WAY left of the standard route, and bumped up against the cornice that is forming under Sheridan. It‘s already close to six feet thick, and although it is too early to pose much of a threat, I would avoid that route in the very near future. Looking at the weather rolling in over Sheridan:
Once gaining the saddle, there is one very well-defined trail the traverses to the right of the ridge, and several smaller ones that go straight up to the ridge itself. I opted to get up to the ridge as quickly as possible, because it was hiding my view of the incoming weather. Although I was leaving myself plenty of time to escape, I still wanted to see what was coming.
From the ridge, I followed the good climber‘s trail on the left (west) side, up over the multiple bumps that form the Sherman approach. The trail was drifted over in a few places, creating a bit of exposure that normally doesn‘t exist on Sherman. I made the decision to stash my trekking poles and keep my axe in hand, just in case of an unexpected ride!
Say what you will about Sherman being easy to climb, but the final trudge across the ridge feels like forever. I didn‘t start counting "false summits", but there must be six places where I thought I was at the top, only to find out I wasn‘t! The final icy slog to the summit:
I finally stood alone on the snowy summit at 9:20am, for my 11th Colorado 14er. Part of me said, "It‘s just Sherman. . ." but the rest of me was happy to have beaten the weather, AND to have this mountain all to myself. Some people aren‘t too fond of Sherman, but the snow and ice up high made this big brown pile of mine tailings look rather Himalayan! Alone up top:
With the weather holding, I stopped on the way down to scarf some food and take some photos of the old Hilltop mine site. Ugly or not, I‘m fascinated by the history of those mines, and how hard-core those miners must have been to live and work in that harsh environment!
I was back at my rental car by 11:30am, and went in search of a burrito. I will say this. . .finding a good burrito in Buena Vista on a Sunday is not an easy task!
Looking back on it, I couldn‘t have asked for a better weekend in the mountains. Two successful summits in two days, with beautiful weather and no crowds!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):