Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,036 feet
Date Posted:  06/12/2012
Date Climbed:   06/11/2012
Author:  choinque
 Mount Sherman Reflections  

Mount Sherman | 11 June 2012

A Proper Start | Check the Temperature

4.00 a.m. wakeup.


Eggs for breakfast.

Coffee and cocoa to go.

When my fifteen-year-old daughter Tori and I left our home in Pine, CO, the temperature was 31 degrees, much cooler than Sunday morning. We packed warmer coats and headgear accordingly. A recent Mount Sherman trip report described 51 degrees at trailhead start. Nice reminder to check the weather beforehand!

CR 18 | Four Mile Creek Road

We listened to podcasts on our early morning US 285 drive, and observed landmarks. Rustic Station in Bailey. Coney Island | The Giant Hot Dog. Grant | Guanella Pass Road. Kenosha Pass. Red Hill Pass. An open gas station in Fairplay. A well-marked sign welcomed us to CR18 just a bit past Fairplay. A surprised deer ran alongside our right for a few seconds and then darted between barbed wire to safety. Smooth pavement quickly ended and we maintained a steady 30 mph on the gravel road noticing isolated homes and land for sale signs. Our dust cloud trailed, alerting the ghosts of Dauntless and Hilltop mines.

Eventually the road narrowed, climbed, and became rougher. We slowed and noticed one parked vehicle that arrived before us - a Jeep. We noticed the gate.


I turned our Yukon around for easy departure. 7.00 a.m. 19 degrees outside. We layered and started. Today is Tori's climb - not mine. We agreed Tori would set the pace, we decided to take pictures and we agreed to attempt our first trip report posting on the 14er site. Great idea!

Making Friends

Jan and Annie arrived in their Jeep just before we did. We introduced ourselves to each other as we started up the road toward Dauntless Mine. Jan is a nurse, and Annie is a hair stylist - Denver locals. We live in Florida and Colorado, and have just arrived for summer. Jan has climbed over a dozen 14ers, Sherman will be my eighth and Tori's fourth. I take a picture of Jan, Annie and Tori and we continue toward the abandoned mining buildings.

Tori, Jan & Annie (L-R)

Dauntless Mine

We try to imagine what this area looked like before; pioneers, railcars, deep shafts, and how everything might have been brought up here. At the edge of safe viewing, we peek down at an underground creek, which emerged from what may have been a tunnel. More pictures.

Tori and Jim at Dauntless Mine

Dauntless Annie

We climb above Dauntless, and looking back notice reddish-brown railroad track; old, twisted, sinewy relics. Jan and Annie pick up their pace without noticing The Arrow.

Follow The Arrow

Just above Dauntless Mine, Tori notices a group of rocks forming an arrow,

The Arrow

directing us to the right. It reminds me of the Big X in the Venetian Library from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Jan and Annie went straight ahead toward a metal structure. Tori believes it looks like a misplaced submarine. It appears Jan and Annie will have an opportunity to turn right near the submarine and meet us before Hilltop Mine. Tori and I both agree the submarine should be painted yellow.

Small Lake

We pass a small lake to our left, fed by a sheet of snow and ice. It looks cold, with fringes of ice along the edges.

The Lake

Switchbacks appear ahead of us, and in the distance we can see the appropriately named Hilltop Mine, a lonely sentinel, lost in place as well as time. Time to climb. We look back at the lake, and notice the stunning blue hues in the morning sky.

Looking back at the lake

We continue our ascent, and Hilltop Mine begins to emerge.

Switchbacks toward Hilltop Mine

Beneath the switchbacks, remnants of Hilltop Mine litter the incline; tangled metal strands and great shards of wood, as though a giant child tore apart a train set.

Hilltop Mine | Tori's Fixer Upper

We notice other structures since the trail maintains a distance from Hilltop Mine; a lonely building sits below a magnificent bluebird day sky.

Bluebird sky

Four Mile Creek Road is still visible, now a garter snake in the background.

Tori at Hilltop Mine

We declare an unfortunate foreclosure Tori's Fixer Upper.

An unfortunate foreclosure?

Tori's fixer-upper

We approach a juncture.

Stay Left | Short Cut

A poetic pile of rocks


presents us a fork in the road ; an aggressive path to the right climbing to the ridge, or a standard path to the left. We take the road more traveled. Sorry Mr. Frost. Jan and Annie rejoin us as we take a water break, and inform us that Tori's submarine was really an ancient steam engine. Jan and I begin to share stories about what inspires us and why we climb these 14ers. Jan has read Erik Weihenmayer's incredible story, and I have read Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic account, South. We have both read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. Small world.

We talk about leadership.

We agree to complete the summit together, cross a small patch of deep snow and begin to approach the rockier climb to the summit. The cairns offer a crunchy chorus as we cross them, and the well-marked path grows steeper. Jan wants to climb Longs Peak, but like many of us, is intimidated by the stories of tragedy and the path beyond the Keyhole. I recall my Longs ascent from last August, and share that Longs is a different kind of climb one must approach with both humility and confidence. And the Cardinal Rule: Only pass the Keyhole and attempt a summit if conditions and confidence are favorable. Jan would like for Annie to climb Longs with her.

Summit | View

10.15 a.m. Summit! Tori's body language says it all.

Tori atop Mount Sherman

Check out that view

A picture of Tori and Daddy.

Tori and Daddy

Notice the fashionable Sock Monkey Hat I am wearing Early lunch and a group photo from a friendly arrival.

Annie, Jan, Tori, Jim (L-R)

A spectacular view. We're not really sure what mountains are visible, my guess is Collegiate Peaks and the Mosquito Range - with Quandary tucked behind. 11.00 a.m. Time to descend.

A Dog's Day

We encounter many climbers with their dogs on the descent, and I can't recall another environment where everyone was so friendly and cheerful. In most cases, it was clear the dogs had the advantage at 13,500 feet! Tori greeted each and every dog with enthusiasm. Jan's later appointment required her and Annie to pick up the pace, we waved goodbye, and I started to think about the glissade opportunity ahead.


Tori's descent


So what's this fancy glissade term all about? Do I tilt my head back to pronounce it? Here's what I figured out. There's a couple hundred feet of a pretty steep snowy/icy decline and I'm my daughter's fearless role model. As I offer a hedge to Tori, that we can take a couple steps into the deep snow and simply traverse the ridge if we choose not to glissade, Tori announces "Might As Well!" I lean back, slide and turn downward.

So this is what glissade is all about I notice a mound of snow at the bottom, which allows me to stop just short of the rocks, stand and turn around to see Tori following and yelling at me to catch her.

Of course I caught Tori, role model intact.


Sorry Splash Mountain, not even close An intrepid father and even more intrepid nine-year-old son follow us. Note the scale with Tori in the foreground.

Intrepid father and son

We return,


reaching the car at 1.00 pm. Indeed this was Tori's day, and Tori's climb.

Flat Tire

Exhilarated we drive away, high fives, fist bumps and all Up ahead we notice a vehicle on the side of the road. A flat tire perhaps? It is Jan and Annie, their Jeep with a flat tire and two gentlemen tightening the spare competently and quickly.

I pull over, grab a piece of paper, and jot down an email address, my leadership web site and offer it to Jan. Small world.

Until next time

Jim & Tori

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Get 'em started young
06/14/2012 16:42
I regret that I only started getting into the 14ers later rather than sooner. I would have liked my family to have been more outdoorsy when I was a teenager.

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