| Is this actually winter?!
• Total Distance: 10.5mi (Winter closure below Leadvick)
• Elevation Gain 3,100ft
• Trailhead Time: 9:00am
• Summit time: 1:26pm
• Completion Time:5:07pm
• Total Time: 8 hours
The weather was almost surreal throughout the hike. From sunrise all the way to sunset, the temperature never dropped lower than about 28 degrees. I would estimate that it was even warmer during the day. There were a few segments of climbing, especially on the snow, where I rolled up my sleeves because it was so warm. Wind was worst on the summit, and was no more than 10 to 15mph. Definitely better than when I was on the mountain back in July!
Originally, I had blocked off January 16, along with a number of other Saturdays in January, as climbing days, hoping to get a higher winter 14er count. Fresh off a summit of Elbert on the 9th, I started the work of getting a hike plan together for Mt. Sherman. Thinking I'd need to be back in Denver by 4pm, I was ready to scrap my plans when I received word that my schedule had cleared. While sitting at school wrapping up work on that Friday, Travis (Travis19877) showed some interest in making Sherman his first 14er. By the next morning, we had all of our gear together, and took off for Fairplay.
The first challenge of the day was the last 100 feet of the road up to the winter closure. The road, while drivable by cars with 4WD, is not very easy to turn around on. It took us almost 1.5 hours to turn the vehicle around, a process that involved turning in small increments while digging out the tires at every turn. Finally, at around 8:40, we finally began a push to the summit.
We had snowshoes on up to Leadvick mine where we stowed them, realizing that between the wind and warm, they would accomplish no good what so ever. After quickly making our way to the gate, I decided against my original plan of attempting the snow route listed on 14ers.com in favor of following the tracks the group ahead of us had left. We worked our way up the road almost all the way to Hilltop mine. At 12,730, we took a snow route up to cut off the last switchback on the road below the mine.
Looking into South Park from the ridge on Mt. Sherman
After a break at the mine, the group ahead of us picked one line of snow to the ridge, another hiker behind us chose another line, and we chose a third. As usual out in the field, there is always room to learn. Today's lesson? Carefully study the TOP of your line before beginning the bottom. After running out of snow, Travis and I were faced with a few hundred feet of climbing on loose scree slopes back up to the ridgeline. With that behind us, we were able to make a beeline to the summit, where Travis gained his first 14er summit, and first in the winter. It was my 44rd summit (with repeats) and 3rd winter summit.
Me on the summit
Travis on the summit
Torreys Peak and Grays Peak
Looking south into the Sangre de Cristo range - Crestone Peak's double summit is visible. To it's right is the rounded summit of Kit Carson.
Mt. of the Holy Cross
Another hiker descending off of the summit
The remainder of the day was enjoyable, albeit slow. Travis, being new to the sport, was dealing with some significant muscle pain in one of his hip flexors and one of his calves. I reassured him that the pain is reasonably expected given the amount of exercise we were doing, especially kicking in steps up the snow route. Thankfully, our rather fast ascent allowed time for a slow downhill. The views remained just as amazing as always. We enjoyed a glissade down from the Sheridan-Sherman saddle (13,132ft) into the Hilltop mine area (12,920ft), and then from the mine (12,894ft) all the way down to 12,617ft. From there, the remainder of the downhill went smoothly.
We closed out the day with a trip to the Pizza Hut in Fairplay, where we enjoyed a large meat-lovers pizza for $10. How can you beat that?
GPS Log. Blue represents the standard summit route, while red is our ascent and descent routes.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):