Trip report from: 6/08/08 (This is the “short” version of a long day on Mt Sherman.) and 06/17/10 the Standard route up Sherman.
06/08/08 My three guy friends and I arrived in Leadville late afternoon, just in time to find a camping site in Mosquito Gulch. We were aware that the forecast overnight called for a chance of around a half inch of snow, but when we woke up around 7 AM we found at least a couple of inches on the ground and covering our tents.
Reluctantly I sat in the car. I wasn’t wearing the appropriate gear (I didn’t even know what the appropriate gear was at this point). I struggled to take down a cold bagel with pineapple cream cheese. I had already attempted to climb Mt Beirstadt last summer, but had to turn around due to altitude sickness between 11,00 or 12,500 ft. Seeing a cloudy cold day wasn’t exactly boosting my confidence that this would be a great time to try to hike another 14er.
After we packed up all of our gear, we jumped in to the cars and headed up the road to the trailhead.
I trusted my friends, but later realized that none of them knew exactly where the real trail was. We were all just following our friend who said he knew the way. All of us were new to Colorado and we were making one mistake after another, without realizing it.
The hike was rough. I had no experience with hiking in the snow and it was a lot of hiking 10 yards over a scree field then putting snow shoes on and hiking through the snow, until I reached another scree field. My friend helped me take the shoes on and off and help me stay balanced on the snow/ice to keep from falling or getting hurt. The weather continued to stay cloudy with an occasional clear up, but in the distance we could see more clouds coming—it didn’t look promising, but none of us understood the dangers of being caught in the storm above 14,000′.
The higher we got the more the wind started picking up. My dog Bradley was becoming tired and slowing down. I assumed I was close to the summit and after a miserable start to the hike I just wanted to make it to the top. I abandoned all reasoning.
When we hit the ridge I realized that we weren’t as close to the summit as I had hoped. I had pretty much used up all my energy at that point but I still thought I could make it. The wind got worse and worse as we continued on, pushing myself because the summit had to be just over the next “little” steep part. I had never been so exhausted in my life.
We eventually crossed paths with the Standard trail and other climbers warned us that a storm was blowing in. I started to panic and realize I didn’t want to be on a 14,000′ in a storm, and I was still frustrated that this wouldn’t be my first 14er summit. I wanted to keep going, but was convinced not to.
The way down was the worst, I was exhausted and having a hard time walking in the snow shoes. I cried, and fell a lot. I started feeling dazed and couldn’t think straight. My friends had to walk with me.
It was by far the most exhausted I’ve ever been. It taught me a great deal about myself as well as how to better prepare for 14ers. I wasn’t ready to be hiking in the snow, I had no practice with self arresting or snow shoes, and zero understanding of when I should call it quits and turn around.Today I researching the hike even when friends “know the route” and I have acquired better clothing for a winter hiking. I feel lucky that we made it down safely and have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
06/17/10 Mt Sherman
This time went a lot smoother. Kat (my room-mate) and Stacy (member of 14ers.com) met up at the trail head of the Standard route of Mt Sherman (opposite side then we started from last time). The weather couldn’t have been more of a complete opposite from the first attempt—it was hot! Maybe the sunniest and warmest day I’ve ever had on a 14er summit. With little problems we reached the summit before noon, ate some lunch and made our way back down.