Another student in the Physics department expressed interest in climbing a 14er so I picked this route on Sherman because it has one of the lowest average slopes (700ft/mile) of any short 14er route. The road to the trailhead was surprisingly good, and I was able to average about 25mph on it, which is excellent for my car. Roach's guidebook gives the 'trailhead' as the old Leavick town site. This is 10.5 miles down the road and there's a parking area for about ten cars just past some old buildings, so we started our hike here. However, as we found out, the road is still OK for passenger cars for another mile or so and that was where most people parked, except for a few 4WD vehicles that went to the end of the road at 12,000ft.
Our start was rather late (9:15) but the weather was pretty good. Once past the forest road you encounter the abandoned Dauntless mine beside the trail, where in addition to mine buildings, there are still remnants of railroad track.
You eventually end up at the 13,140ft saddle between Mount Sheridan and Sherman, but there are many routes through here and it's not obvious which is the best. The main problem being all the remnants of mining roads bewteen Dauntless and the Hilltop mine, which is a few rickety buildings just below the bottom of Sheridan's north ridge.
At the saddle, we felt the full force of the westerly wind which was averaging bewteen 30 and 40mph, and could see that a lot of Sheridan's north and west side was snow-covered. There was only a little bit of snow on and near the trail. The wind lessened as we ascended Sherman's southwest ridge, except for in a small saddle on the way up. By the time we got near the summit ridge, we could see the weather worsening to the south and snow was falling far enough below the clouds to reach the mountains. It looked like it might stay to the south of us and this ended up being the case. The summit ridge is long and gentle and after a few false summits, we reached the top at about 12:30pm, for her first 14er, and my tenth.
Leadville is just 8 miles west of here and along with Turquoise Lake and patches of aspens, made for a nice tableau. In fact, there were several areas of aspens near peak color that could be seen from the summit, as well as some on the forest road. There was no register here, and I was concerned about the weather, so we took some quick pictures and headed back down. I think we found the best route coming down, aided by the view from above.
Shortly after reaching the forest road we had about 10 minutes of light flurries. We reached the car at about 2:30pm, for a round-trip of 5:15, a little slow for me but very respectable for a first 14er. Last week when I climbed Quandary Peak, the aspens were just starting to change, so on the way back Saturday, we drove up highway 9 to see the large stand of aspens south of Breckenridge, and they didn't disappoint. For some reason, the 5 or so miles of I-70 west of the Eisenhower Tunnel became like rush hour traffic and it took about a half hour to get through this.
Sherman is probably the easiest 14er that I've done, and makes a good first one. However, there are a lot of high summits in this area, and sometime I'll go back and do some ridge hiking here.
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File last modified: 18 December 2004