Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,036 feet
Date Posted:  12/04/2011
Modified:  12/06/2011
Date Climbed:   12/03/2011
Author:  RJansen77
Additional Members:   dillonsarnelli, Upstate Hiker, Brian Thomas, SurfNTurf, tmathews
 Whiteout on Mount Sherman  

"Is this safe?"

Those were the first words out of SurfNTurf's mouth as he greeted me on his front porch at 5:30am Saturday morning. Curtains of white were descending upon Denver, and I felt more inclined to grab my planks and Epic Local Pass than my ice axe and microspikes. Despite the heavy snow in town that morning, SurfNTurf, Breanna, Dillon and myself drove up to Fairplay and met Brian Thomas and upstatehiker for an attempt on Mount Sherman. Driving up the snowy Fourmile Creek Road, we met up with Terry (tmathews) about 0.9 miles below the Leavick Mine site and geared up. The snow here was maybe 8-10 inches of powder over a packed base, and it got deeper as our group of seven set off up the road around 8:30am.

Looking up the Fourmile Creek Road

The group hiking up

Most of the group started in snowshoes and stashed them near the gate on the road. We then changed into microspikes as the terrain steepened. Conditions above the gate were anywhere from 2 inches of powder to knee-deep drifts. It didn't seem that any consolidated snow was sitting under the powder, as we regularly slipped downhill on the loose scree underneath.

Terry after the gate

Jeff made some wands the night before in case of a whiteout. While conditions weren't too dire, they were used nonetheless.

We meandered towards the mine buildings, trying to avoid deep postholing and elevation loss when possible.
Looking up toward Sheridan

Once we passed the highest mine buildings, we were faced with the decision to take the direct snow climb to the ridge or the long, gradual route that switchbacked above the mine buildings. We all had microspikes on, and elected to take the direct line to the ridge. It wound up being much shorter than we had all anticipated, and the slope was composed of great step-kicking snow; firm enough to take weight but soft enough for good purchase with boots. We gained the ridge quickly and stared up at the summit ridge.
Dillon approaching snow climb to the ridge

Breanna, Jeff and Terry

Looking up the summit ridge

Mount Sheridan

The forecast had called for cloudy skies with 1-3 inches of snow, but visibility had improved on our approach. Alas, that changed in an instant when we reached the ridge, as the wind picked up, the clouds moved in, and we all agreed the temperature dropped ~15 degrees in a ~90 minute time span with the loss of the sun.

Jeff, Breanna and Terry in deteriorating conditions

We continued climbing the ridge, while the conditions changed from blue sky above, to foggy and everything in between. It made for some neat conditions and really gave you that "milk bottle" feeling!

Dillon on the ridge

Dillon climbing the ridge

Looking back at Dillon and Terry

The final push

The ghostly figure of Dillon appears.
Dillon appears out of the smoke

We reached the summit around 2:35pm, and lingered in the whiteout only to take a few pictures and grab some water. The only view we caught besides those of the greater Sherman massif was a 30 second glimpse of the upper reaches of Massive and Elbert. We knew we would have to boogie if we wanted to reach the cars by dark, and we started the descent around 2:50pm.

Approaching the summit

Dillon, myself and Terry on the summit

Terry descending the snow slope from the ridge with Dillon having glissaded below

White Ridge looking cold

A chilly hike out

We scurried down toward the road, and once we hit the gate thoughts of food and beer sent us into cruise control. Upon reaching the cars around 4:50pm, Terry informed us that his dashboard was reading a temperature of -3F. By the time we reached Fairplay for a post-climb meal, it had dropped to -11F! Thank goodness it was uncharacteristically calm up there.

It was great climbing with you guys, lets do it again soon!

If you have questions about the road / route conditions, feel free to PM me. Thanks for reading!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

12/05/2011 02:10
Wow. Things can really change in a week.


Sherman is almost ready for skiing!
04/02/2015 19:45
I felt more inclined to grab my planks and Epic Local Pass than my ice axe and microspikes.

Good thing you did not! There was NO new snow in Breckenridge on Saturday.


12/05/2011 05:18
Looks like a well-earned summit.


12/05/2011 15:41
My first post... I guess I can officially climb 14ers now that i have a screen name. This was a great trip with great people. I think we realized how cold it actually was when our bare hands froze to the ice axes back at the car... Jeff - thanks for putting it together, Rob - well done report. See you all soon.


Still can't feel my fingers
12/05/2011 16:49
Talk about cold! Thanks for putting together this nice trip report Rob, it was a great day in the mountains despite everything.


Can't wait!
12/05/2011 20:13
Wow, great looking climb guys. I'm doing this in 3 weeks and I'm pretty excited!


12/06/2011 16:17
Sherman can sure throw some interesting weather this time of year, huh?

Looks like a fun trip. Nice write-up and photos, Rob!


Nice report.
12/06/2011 18:01
Wintery! One of the many faces Sherman can show you!


12/06/2011 22:29
Great seeing you guys again!

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