Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mt. Sherman Trip Report

On Saturday April 10th, I went on my first 14er of the year.  I figured Mt. Sherman would be a good climb because it's close and rated as an easy climb.  Unfortunately I did not have this blog last year to capture my first 2 14ers - Mt Yale on July 4th, and Pike's Peak on July 18th, so you'll have to take my word for it that this was number three. 

The climb actually started in Greenland in January.  They have a 750 ft geological feature called Mt. Dumas that the locals like to climb, so I and some co-workers decided to attempt it, despite its being fairly steep and coverend in snow.  I really enjoyed the climb and started getting a hankering for doing some more 14ers in Colorado, and realized that snow doesn't have to be a limiting factor.  So I bought some snow shoes and started looking for a partner on   I found someone willing to do Bross, Lincoln and Cameron, and we started making hiking plans for the 3rd of April.  The weather was uncooperative, so we ended up hiking with a group of her friends on North Star instead.  That was a great experience, despite the hurricane winds, and really whetted my appetite for climbing again.

Keifer Sutherland voiceover: The following takes place between 4 am, and 1 pm.  (Doop...dop...doop... dop... doop)

4:00 am: The alarm goes off and I quickly get up and ready, excited for the day to come.  I pack my car and hit the road.
6:20 am:  As I am driving the twisties through the mountains a few thoughts come to mind, such as "Wow, this is fun", and "This would be even more fun on my motorcycle", and also "This would be even more fun if not for the Jeep in front of me slowing me down". 
7:45 am:  After missing my turn thanks to my GPS not having the correct final coords loaded, I finally make it to the 10 mile dirt road that leads to the trail head.  As I approach the trail head a few things became evident: The slushy snow is going to prevent me from getting to the trail head, necessitating a longer hike, and my visions of a day alone on the mountain are quickly evaporating as I park along the side of the road in a long line of cars.  I begin my hike, finishing putting my gear on as I go.
8:00 am: My hands are getting cold.  Not finishing getting the gear adjusted while in the car seems like less of a good idea.  My snowshoes are strapped to my pack, since the snow is well packed.

8:20 am: I just got passed by two guys who are hauling skis up the mountain.  I'm a bit embarrassed, since their packs look much bigger and heavier than mine.
8:25 am: I pass the skiers while they take a break.  Take that!
8:27 am: I am passed by the skiers again.  Dang it!!
8:50 am: I'm working my way up the first decent hill of the day.  Ok, the jacket must come off.  I'm sure I'll be putting it on in another 15 minutes when I get cold considering this under armor shirt isn't exactly well insulated, but I'm burning up so what's a guy to do.  It turns out I move much faster without the jacket, and apparently I am a furnace when exercising, as I'm the only one without a jacket on, and I don't put mine back on until right before the summit 2 hours later, after climbing almost the entire mountain without it.
9:50 am: After getting away from the line of climbers early on, I meet up with a couple of guys who are nice enough to take my picture.  They break trail for a bit, postholing as they go, then I take the lead.  My indentations in the snow are much shallower, since I am lighter, making climbing easier.  Every once in a while it pays to be built like a 12 yr old boy.

10:20 am: I have left the two hikers behind, and run into another guy who is taking a breather.  We chat for a bit and he informs me that he really got into doing 14ers in November when he weighed 300 pounds.  He is now 210.  I'm duly impressed, both by his weight loss and the fact that he hauled 300 pounds of flesh up the side of a mountain.  Well done, sir, well done.

10:30 am: Walking along a narrow ridgeline and hands are getting cold.  My mittens are in my jacket, which is in my pack.  I remove my pack and re-don my jacket and mittens.  I almost lose my balance putting the pack back on.  I realize that a two foot wide trail overlooking hundreds of feet of rock-covered steep incline is probably not the best place to swing my pack onto my back.

10:57 am: I arrive at the top of the mountain.  The views are much better than last week when white-out conditions prevented seeing more than 20 ft.  I call Heather to let her know I made it and leave a message.

11:10 am: Views having been taken in, it is time to start working my way down.  Coming down is much quicker and easier than going up, as expected.  The snow makes it easier on the knees than descending on dry ground.  I take a much more direct path that may or may not be an avalanche danger.  I figure if others are skiing down this path it must be safe.  (*Safety disclaimer: Actually the snow was very stable, and dozens of climbers had been taking the same route throughout the day. Always choose your route carefully.) 

11:20 am:  I am halfway down the mountain and nowwhere near the tree line.  I don't see anybody around, and I really need to go pee.  Can I hold it for another hour or more until I can find someplace more private to go to the bathroom?
11:22 am: I feel much better.  Sorry if there were any hikers with binoculars at the base looking for wildlife.
11:30 am: The snow is warm enough that I am post-holing up to my thighs.  Glad I brought the snowshoes.  Time to put them on.
12:00 pm: I am back on the road to the car.  I'm not feeling so well.  I'm hungry but don't want to stop until I get to the car.  A gentleman apparently from Austria who looks nothing like Arnold Swartzenegger but sounds just like him joins me for a while, making the walk go faster.  I keep wanting him to leave so he can say "Ah'll be bahck".
1:00 pm:  I finally get to the car and eat.  I'm a bit dehydrated and sunburned, which is why I wasn't feeling so well.  All in all a good hike, and I can't wait for the next one.  I'll make sure the suncreen is in my bag next time!

First Blog

I guess this is my mandatory first blog.  Wow, I'm moving into the 21st century.  Why a blog?  A couple friends recommended/asked me to post descriptions/pictures from my hiking adventures this summer on a blog.  So Gary and Vicky, this blog is your fault! 

I figured as long as I'm making a blog for capturing my outings, I may as well put other random thoughts to the page.  Especially since it is very annoying to run out of space on Facebook.  I know, I can use notes, but that doesn't help one join the blogging masses, now does it?  My goal is to use this blog to get out some of the thoughts that circle around in my head.  I don't expect many people will read it, but that's ok, because A: that's not the reason for this blog, and B: I'm pretty boring, so I'm used to it.  In fact, I can see your eyes rolling back in your head so it's time to finish this post.  I hereby smash a proverbial bottle of champagne against the hindquarters of this blog (don't worry, it was a cheap bottle).