Last weekend ended up being perfect for one last fair weather 14er of 2012. We had planned on doing several others this summer, but our plans were changed in June when we decided to help with recovery efforts from the High Park Fire instead. So, this was a long overdue summit fix after a busy couple of months.
We were able to get our Elantra all the way up County Rd 18 to the gate at 12000 feet and hit the trail right at sunrise just after 7:00. The snow the area received earlier in the week was completely gone from the road and all east and south slopes we could see from the trailhead. There was a trickle of water over the road that was ice from the freeze the night before, but that was all the solid water we would encounter.
We made a quick stop to inspect the Dauntless Mine ruins on the way. Quite the operation they had back in the day. Very impressive. Must have been lots of work to get all that material up there.
Sunrise at the Dauntless Mine
We followed what looked like the main road, but forgot about the right turn the route description mentioned. After realizing we were headed up the wrong slope we picked what looked like the best way back over to the right and were on track once more. In no time we were on the saddle between Sherman and Sheridan. From there we took the more straight forward route, basically following the most obvious kerns and other hikers. By this time the sun was out enough to require a heat stop and layers were peeled. The short section of exposed ridge just below the final push was amazing.
At the top we ate a quick lunch and chatted a little with other hikers while taking in the gorgeous vistas. To the west was Mt. Massive. What a sight looking down Iowa Gulch and at Leadville in the valley below, which was highlighted by aspen in all their autumn glory.
Aspen glow in Iowa Gulch with Mt. Massive overhead.
To the north we could identify Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross -- a trek we made several years ago with our now 12-year-old son in the toddler pack. We are pretty sure we could also see Quandry Peak even farther north, which the three of us summitted earlier this summer. Mt. Sherman wraps up the 10-Mile/Mosquito Group for us. It is 14er number 15 for my wife and me and our son's fifth 14er on his own two feet.
The Fam at 14036 feet
On the trip back down we decided to try following the group ahead of us who were headed past the west side of the Hilltop Mine rather than taking the main route. It was interesting at first walking through more of the ruins and checking out the cable system that used to take ore down the slopes. However, the trail down from that point quickly became very steep over unstable talus, making for a less than enjoyable quarter mile. Still can't complain much though. Overall, I would say this is probably the easiest of the 14ers we have climbed and would definitely recommend this for beginners or for quick one for someone on vacation in Colorado.