Friday, July 10, 2015

Mt. Sherman

Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 12,000 ft - 14,035 ft
Elevation Gain: 2,035 ft
Date Hiked: 18 September 2015
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Tags: #14er, #mountainpeak, #gearguide
Other 14ers: Lincoln, Democrat, Handies, Quandary, Bierstadt, Grays, Torres

Looking down on Mt. Sheridan (13,748 ft) from the ridge to Mt. Sherman
Mount Sherman, near Fairplay Colorado, is one of the fifty-four named peaks above 14,000 ft that are such an obsession. "Bag them all" is the rallying cry as experienced climbers and novitiates alike stand in line for their chance to slog their way to the top of each and every one. Mt. Sherman is relatively close to Denver, and so it is more crowded than most. If you can, climb it on a weekday or at least slightly off season.

Heading up at 12,000 ft
Looking up at the ridge from the mining road
Close up of the hilltop mine
The trailhead to Mt. Sherman can be found on County Road 18 (Four Mile Creek Road), located one mile south of Fairplay on  U.S. Highway 185. CO 18 is a dirt road but is passable by passenger cars even up to the gate at 12,000 ft. Where you begin to hike depends upon your vehicle, your temperament, and of course the weather.

Looking back down the route
Heading into the talus
Mt. Sherman is considered one of the easier 14ers to climb and I can't disagree. The first 1.5 miles is up an old mining road and so is relatively smooth and broad. This early part of the route passes two historic mining complexes, the Dauntless Mine at 12,300 ft and the Hilltop Mine at 12,900 ft. Both are rather scenic, particularly the Dauntless Mine, which perches majestically against the ridge line when viewed from below.

Heading towards the saddle
On the saddle
After the Hilltop Mine, the route begins to switchback up true talus to the saddle between Mt. Sheridan and Mt. Sherman. Just before the saddle is a small rock barrier that has been erected to give folks a chance to gear up before crossing into the saddle, which traditionally is blasted by gale force winds. While Leadville can be viewed from the saddle, it is a bit of a walk to see it and most people scurry onwards towards the ridge on the other side.

Heading up the ridge
View of Iowa Gulch to the west
The ridge leading up to the summit of Mt. Sherman is either a jungle gym or a terror inducing experience depending upon your stomach for loose rock, high winds and visible but not life threatening exposure. When the winds are blowing, you might as well pack up the hiking poles and be prepared to lurch from rock outcropping to rock outcropping. On a blissful day, you can bring your  grandmother.

Still not there
The final pitch
The final summit ridge is very flat and it is a short quarter mile to the small bump that is the summit. There are several rock shelters to hide behind, but for some reason the winds on the summit are usually less than those below.

View of White Ridge (13, 684 ft) from the summit ridge
The summit is just ahead
If you have the energy, there are numerous other peaks to be bagged in the area. You pass Mt. Sheridan (13,748 ft) on the way, Gemini Peak (13,951 ft) and Dyer Mountain (13, 855 ft) are to the north, and White Ridge (13, 684 ft) is to the east. As with any 14er, the views makes the struggle worth while.

View of the Iowa Amphitheater from the summit

1 comment:

KT said...

Oh, Sherman is on our list...we skipped it last time because we didn't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle...good to know it is possible (at least some seasons) with a standard car. Always another reason to go back to Colorado.