| Fog, snow, and third attempt on Sherman
Route: Southwest Ridge from Fourmile Creek
Round-trip mileage and elevation: 7.49 miles, +2805'
This was our third trip to Mt. Sherman and our first summit. Our first attempt was September 21, 2008, and Mt. Sherman threw rain and wind at us with unpleasant temperatures; we were not prepared for the rain and wind aspect. Our second attempt was January 2, 2009, and Mt. Sherman threw more wind and bitter cold at us. We thought we were prepared for both, but obviously we were not. Our third attempt, Mt. Sherman relented and let us summit. This was our first 14er of 2009 and my 8th (different) total and Amber's 5th total.
We woke at 3:00 AM by our alarm clock's request but lazed around until finally clawing out of bed at 3:20 AM. It seems that it is much easier to get up for a hike if you sleep in a tent and sleeping bag as opposed to a bed. At any rate, we were out the door by 4:00 AM and at the trail head around 6:15 AM. We began hiking a tad after 6:30 AM and made quick progress along the Fourmile Creek Rd. Here is a picture of the road with the sun starting to warm us.
Our thermometer registered a whopping 35 degrees here in the morning shadows. Further down the road we find that Mt. Sherman has clouds lingering above.
Above the gate, we find more hikers and the old mine buildings and Mt. Sherman still cloud covered.
The trail (road) is easy to follow past the second mine building, seen here…
…and then there are two short sections of snow to ascend followed by punching through a very soft snow ridge, the saddle between Mt. Sheridan and Mt. Sherman. Here, we are above 13,000' and hiking in the fog that still blankets Mt. Sherman. The trail continues around the corner, I swear it does.
And did I mention that once we gained this ridge that the wind really picked up? After all, it is Mt. Sherman. All the previous thoughts I had about shedding my outer layer were quickly put aside as we wanted more layers. Alas, we had no more. At any rate, we continued along the ridge, every step through the fog bringing us closer to the summit. Here are two more photos of the foggy ridge.
Now, Mt. Sherman is considered very easy, and by 14er standards, I would agree. But, many people never talk about exposure on Mt. Sherman and I would not particularly say there is exposure. Amber felt differently and thanks to a heads-up from Aubrey, she was mentally preparing herself for that exposure. Here, you can see through the fog down the side of the ridge.
On the ridge we chose a line to the West on the rocks and out of the snow until we gained the long summit ridge. We gained the summit around 9:45 AM. Here you can see others approaching the summit. The clouds and fog are finally lifting.
We sequestered a nice couple on the summit to take our summit photo.
We enjoyed the summit views for about 15 minutes or so, all the while the clouds were moving out. Shortly after leaving the summit, we see our ridge traverse with many hikers still on the way up, and Mt. Sheridan looming large to the left.
Amber is navigating the ridge much faster now than on the way up (I think the lack of fog helped her see that the exposure was not as bad as she first thought).
From the ridge, we are afforded great views of Iowa Gulch, Leadville, and the Collegiate Range…
… and a look down into the Fourmile Creek area.
We continue making good progress on our descent and look back at Mt. Sherman to see the mountain that was covered earlier.
Amber takes it easy over one of those snow fields I mentioned earlier.
There were many people who chose to glissade instead of hike down, including a couple of groups with dogs. We stopped and watched several groups get their kicks in losing some quick elevation. We continued on down the trail, making it back to the car just before noon. There were still some folks heading up the trail but there were no immediate storm threats; it still seemed a little late to be heading up though.
Mt. Sherman may be one of Colorado's easiest 14ers, but all mountains must be respected and your personal limits (physical and mental) known. As such, our third time on Mt. Sherman was a charm.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):