Mount Sherman
Descent Route: East Side From Leavick
March 14, 2006

The last time I tried to ski Mt. Sherman, back in January, we got blown off the summit ridge by 30 below temps, heavy snow, and ferocious winds. Today was much of the same, yet thankfully the temperature was more managable, and allowed Ted Mahon and I to tag the summit and ski down.

We left Aspen at 5:30 a.m., made the requisite stop at Starbucks in Breckinridge, and arrived on the east side of Mt. Sherman, south of Fairplay, at 8:30 a.m. The trend on the Sawatch Range and Tenmile/ Mosquito Range this winter is that all the snow on the west sides of the mountains has been blown onto the east sides, so we began our day on the east side with a snowmobile ride up the Fourmile Creek road to the old ghost town of Leavick, which lies at 11,270 ft. Mt. Sherman is a virtual lump of a mountain, and must be considered one of the easiest and most boring 14ers out there. From a skier's perspective it's a green run.

The summit was in the cloads and snow as we approached on our skins. Taking pictures in the low visibility and flat light was tough, as you can see by the lame shots we have on the right. But after two hours we found the summit ridge in a total whiteout. Ted went right and found himself going down, and I went left and was going down, so we came back to the highest point, declared it the top, and prepeared to ski. You literally could not see more than 20 feet in any direction, and unless there were rocks in front of you to give perspective, it was often hard to tell what was up or down. As we began to ski, we both experienced times of vertigo. Imagine thinking you are skiing down the mountain, only to look over and watch your friend ski past because you are actually standing still. At this point you usually just fall over because your brain can not figure out a reference point to keep you standing up. It's all pretty funny, as long as there is no danger like avalanches or large cliffs around.

as we descended through 12,000 feet on hard windpack, the visibility improved and we made it back to the snowmobile and car in a round trip time of three hours. Because it had been so snowy and windy, neither Ted nor I had eaten or drank anything on the mountain. We both agreed it was our first 14er climbed without ever drinking a drop of water.

So on a day of terrible weather we managed to dispatch with peak #10 of my project. I just got back from a week on Switzerland, and thankfully it snowed the entire time I was gone here in Colorado. The southern mountains, including the San Juans and the Sangre de Cristos picked up anywhere from 40" to 100" during this time, so I may have a fighting chance now down there. Now we are looking at a weekend of stormy weather again, so I'll be back at it next week.... stay tuned and have a great weekend.


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