Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mount Sherman

Laurel wanted to hike Mount Sherman for her birthday -- the closest 14er she hasn't summited yet.

We got up at 4am, packed up the Xterra, and hit the road. By 7am we reached the trailhead at the end of the 4x4 road. Amazingly, there were only a handful of vehicles up there.

Every other 14er we've hiked has been a parade up an obvious trail. When we started up Sherman though, the trail was mostly buried in snow and there was only one other group of hikers who chose a different route.

Two Ptarmigan followed us at the start of the trail.

We decided to aim for the saddle between Sherman and White Ridge. Once atop that saddle, Gemini Peak to the north caught our attention. Instead of heading right up Sherman we adjusted course for Gemini.

The twin peaks of Gemini look similar from a distance, but each has its own character. The first we summited was not very steep-sided, and there were actually two smaller sub-peaks nearby that we also hiked up. The view was fantastic from these summits.

The main Gemini Peak is taller and fairly steep. We decided not to hike the steep southeast rock slope right in front of us or the equally steep south snow slope. Instead we hiked around to the east side of the peak and went up from there. On the topo it doesn't look any less steep, but it seemed to be in the field.

We took a short break on the summit of Gemini. At 13,951' elevation, it is almost a 14er itself. Our next stop was Mount Sherman.

The most remarkable thing about Mt. Sherman was that we were the only people on the summit for 20 minutes! That's a first for us on a 14er.

We hiked down the southwest ridge of Sherman. This was a nice part of the hike -- good exposure on either side of the ridge, but flat enough on the top that it was a hike and not a scramble. It was neat to look off to the distance and see a distinct line cutting across the Sawatch range.

As we were hiking down Sherman and towards Sheridan (another 13er), we crossed paths with two CMC folks hiking the other way. The girl had just finished WTS and the guy was an assistant this year to the instructor we had for WTS last spring. Small world in the mountains.

The summit of Sheridan was spectacular in its own way. From there you could see clear across the trough containing Leadville and the Arkansas Headwaters to the Sawatch 14ers.

We were getting tired, so after a short break atop our third real summit of the day, we headed down Sheridan's south ridge. This slippery slope of scree required careful footing. From the bottom of that slope we followed an old 4x4 road and some snow slopes back to the car. The snow was soft enough in the afternoon that we had to get out the snowshoes.

At the end of the day we had covered just over 7 miles. Since it was mostly off trail it took us 8.5 hours. We were above 13,000' elevation for over 6 hours.

View Mount Sherman in a larger map

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