| snowblind on Sherman
I was hoping to attempt Decalibron on Monday but decided last minute to go try Sherman. I arrived around 8:15am at the normal winter closure(about 1 mile below Leavick). I was surprised how much snow was still on the road from the previous weeks worth of storms. I had attempted Sherman in January and there was much less snow then!
I had considered renting some snowshoes for the trip but ended up decided against it, figuring they would only be needed occasionally. In retrospect this was a mistake. The entire first mile up to Leavick was breaking trail through crusty snow 6"-18" deep. I set a good pace and didn't get overly tired but it still sapped quite a bit of energy.
The second mistake, an seemingly innocuous one at the time, was that I forgot my sunglasses. Now I've done several long winter hikes without them in the past, but this time it would prove to be a big mistake...but more on that to come
Leavick and Horshoe Mountain
I made good time up past Leavick, with the snow conditions a mix of powder and crust. There were a few places where the road was without snow, but for the most part the snow was consistent. The wind was really howling that morning, but as I continued up the road it began to die down, and by 11am it was probably only gusting up to 15-20mph at most. When my altimeter read about 12,000 feet I turned off the main road and headed up the talus of the southern slope. On my previous attempt I had followed the road to the Hilltop mine but this time I knew better and I had a couple old snowshoe tracks I could follow up the snow route on the southern slope. My route was inexact as I tried to avoid postholing at all costs, which worked at times, and other times put me in knee deep drifts.
Heading up the slope
Taking a break
White Ridge as I head up the southern slope
My inital thought was to meet up with the White Ridge - Sherman saddle but as I headed up I simply followed the drainage. I stayed out of the drainage and followed a higher line on the talus about 50 ft. northeast. I was in more of a scrambling mood at that point rather than kicking steps in the snow. I joined the saddle not more than a few hundred feet below summit, and pushed on from there. I reached the summit at 12:45, about 4 hours after I set off from the winter road closure. I had to excavate the register as it was buried in solid snow/ice. I spent about 20 minutes on the summit where my temp. gauge read 27 degrees, and the sun shone through cobalt blue skies.
Excavating the register
Jet trail over summit
On a sidenote:
I picked up this Highgear Axis watch on Steep and Cheap a couple weeks ago for 23 bucks. I really just wanted a temp gauge and altimeter so when this came up I jumped on it. Some of the reviews were mixed, but I found it to perform quite well. I calibrated it in Colorado Springs only once that morning and by the time I was on the summit it was only 25 ft. off! Granted, the weather was fairly stable but it seemed to work great.
As I headed down from the summit the I had the sun in my face and the snow softened up quite a bit. I plunge stepped my way down and quickly arrived down at the road in about 40 minutes or so. By the temperature had risen to nearly 40 degrees and the snow had turned heavy and wet. The rest of the way back was a tiring slog that made me yearn for summer, or at the very least, snowshoes. I arrived back at the car a little after 3pm for a roundtrip of about 6.5 hours.
There and back again
After my drive back to Colorado Springs, I noticed my eyes becoming irritated. I didn't think much of it until I woke up at 1am that night with my eyes burning! I contemplated driving to Walmart for some Visine, but my vision was too blurred to do anything. I downed some Ibuprofen and eventually fell asleep, but I awoke to similiar pain and swelling. I was able to make it to the opthamologist that afternoon where he diagnosed me with UV keratitis aka Snow Blindness, and hooked me up with some steroid eyedrops. As of today, with still swollen eyes, I'm feeling much improved and able to view a computer monitor in focus! Perfect time for a trip report....
So lesson learned:
Wear UV eye protection!