Sherman is supposed to be the easiest of the 14ers, but today it kicked my butt. My friend Scott and I left a little later than I hoped for, leaving Morrison for Fairplay at 0630. By the time we reached Fairplay it was already 0830. We headed up 4 mile creek and then... stuck in the 4 inches of fresh powder.
So many uses for the ice axe
I had left my avy shovel in my car when we took his. Bummer. We instead used snowshoes and ice axes to dig it out for the next hour. Hint: play some music while you are digging the car out, we actually had a good time with it by the time we were done. So there went an hour and a good bit of energy pulling the thing out. We also noticed we were about a mile short of the main trail head by the mine, thus adding 2 miles to the overall trip. We got our gear on and headed out (1030). From that point it took about an hour and a half to get to the end of the valley (not the road) where the incline starts increasing. Scott had brought some huge redfeather snowshoes that were very heavy and had little traction (compared to the MSR Evos I was wearing). He had started lagging behind and with our late start he knew he wouldn't be able to make the summit today. Before I started the slog up the mountain, he decided to turn around (1200).
Scott tuckered out from lugging those huge shoes
I headed up toward the mine setting time goals to get there since it was so late in the day. Winds were already at 10-15 sustained and temps were around 0 with wind chill. I made the mine just under the 1245 cutoff I had set for myself and grabbed a quick drink before pushing on.
High winds over the mine
At this point I looked at the standard route that heads to the saddle between Mt. Sheridan and Mt. Sherman. Due to the fresh snow and the high winds, there was a massive cornice overhanging the leeward side (my side) of the route.
She's beautiful but deadly
I assessed the other options and deemed traversing over to White Ridge too much effort on my limited remaining time. I cut over to a talus hill to the north of the mine and put on my micro spikes and helmet (crampons were not needed for the entire trip). I then began traversing to the Sheridan/Sherman saddle to a point above the cornice.
Slightly modified standard route
As soon as I reached the ridge, the winds picked up to 35-40 mph sustained winds. Luckily the ridge on Sherman is pretty wide or else I would have called off the summit entirely. I made very good time and reached the summit by my cutoff (1530).
Summit! It's 2 I'm showing, not trying to be a Charlie's Angel...
Hey look! I have 2 bars and 3G on the summit!
I then made a hasty retreat from the mountain knowing I had an extra mile at the end. I took nearly the same route back, again taking special care to avoid the corniced saddle. Glissading helped with this tremendously
I was off the mountain at the car by 1730. I woke up Scott and we helped dig another car out before heading home. We preordered a victory pizza on the way back and picked it up piping hot before demolishing it. What a day!