| SHERMAN, Sheridan, and Peerless
What: Four Mile Creek Triple
When: March 21st, 2010
Where: Park County, Mosquito Range
Why: Self-inflicted punishment for KU's loss
The way I see it, you clicked on this report for one (or more) of a few simple reasons.
First, this TR might provide beta for your forthcoming adventure.
TH Beta: Park County Rd 18 was a mess this morning. Consistent strong winds + new snow kept the final 6 miles of road (MM 4 - 10) packed, crusty, and frustrating to drive. I had to ditch my Exterra over 2 miles below the Leavick Mine. However, by the afternoon a few trucks had blown through the snow to within 3/4 of a mile of the site. Would still recommend a 4WD vehicle through Mon/Tuesday, as the deep ruts were still resulting in fishtales during my exit.
Sherman is in from the summit. The SE face had a good amount of wind-deposited snow, making for a continuous descent to the car. The avy danger was listed as considerable on all aspects above treeline due to storm/wind slabs, so I stuck extreme skiers left of the face, into the leftmost gully (leads under the oft pictured tramway ruins).
Second, this TR might have interesting images.
Or third, I might be able to string a few words togther into an articulate report that stimulates stoke. Editors Note: I was a math and physics major. Words and I don't get along.
After an incredible Saturday of powder lap after powder lap in the VP region, I needed to get out and stretch the legs. The winter storm that swept through much of Colorado was extremely random in its giving of snow, completely missing one county (summit) only to drop feet on the next (clear creek). Since I was planning to solo, I selected Sherman as a destination, as its SE face offers mellower slopes from which to choose, even during higher danger.
I arrived in Fairplay at the ripe hour of 10am (it's Sherman right, only 7 miles and 2800 vert ) As I turned onto CR 18 I quickly discovered that the post-storm winds had yet to subside, as much of the approach was covered white nuckling deep drifts on a snowpacked roads. So much for the reported plowing.
As I stepped out of my vehicle well below the intended Leavick Mine TH, I entered into a vortex that would take most of the day to subside. Skinning the flat miles to treeline proved relatively brutal, as a strong westerly gale channeled straight down the Four Mile Creek basin into the access road. Balaclava, hard shell, and goggles were out of the pack, and stayed put for the remainder of the day.
Killingcokes had an interest (and a beer offering) for photo-beta on a line off Sheridan. Looking for any excuse to extend a journey into a multi-peak day, I found myself breaking trail SW towards Peerless Peak. I broke through to the alpine only to discover that the rolling faces and gullies leading to the Peerless summit offered NO protection from the wind. A fact that was reinforced once I strapped the split to my pack. Resistance training at 13K, sweet.
The climb to Peerless was straightforward, consisting of low-angle tundra trekking to a final 400 foot vert steep. The views into Horseshoe mountain and over to Sherman were awesome. I found myself smiling amidst the discomfort of the climb as I was alone in a completely new world. The horizon suddenly had meaning, as I knew little of what laid beyond.
I side-slipped the ridge and rode down the Peerless-Sheridan saddle to 12,800 feet, and repeated the familiar process of strapping the sail to my back and charging into the vortex. The climb to Sheridan's summit has pitch, very reminiscent of Fourth of July Bowl on Peak 10. The talus field contains many convexities, which made for interesting footing and several entertaining recoveries. As I crested the summit ridge and made my way over to the rock wind-break I was granted stunning views into the Northern Sawatch, Northern Mosquitos, Front Range, and even the Elks. Man it looked pleasant down in the Leadville Valley. I swear I could see people mowing yards in t-shirts. Oh well, one more to go.
Time was ticking and I had an evening date to watch Aspen Extreme, so I quickly made my way down to the NE rib of snow on Sheridan, which permitted a connected ride down to the low point on the Sherman-Sheridan saddle. At this point I was able to pick up the summer trail which had been broken by a couple of hearty hikers a few hours prior. The ascent of Sherman's S ridge was pleasant, as the wind started to die and the footing proved stable. The trail stayed just W of large continuous cornices that overhang the SE face.
Soon I found myself at the less than climactic summit of Sherman. First time at 14k since May 2009, and damn did it feel nice. As I strapped into my board for the final time of the day, I found myself focused on the task ahead. The avy danger was considerable and I was above a mid 30 degree wind-loaded face....alone. Not trying to be dramatic or anything, but I certainly was going to play the descent well on the safe side.
Any nerves over the situation quickly departed as I traversed across a mellow slope to the top of the easternmost gully on the face. There were no terrain features to negotiate, no steep pitches to cut - just consistent wind-effected snow. The upper 1000 vertical contained a mix of lightly breakable snow and wind-buff. Unfortunately, the lower gullies turned nasty - thick breakable the entire way back to the road, with the occasional exposed rock to keep things interesting. The final four miles to the car passed quickly, a nice mix of xc-snowboarding and hiking.
Overall a fantastic day. Fun peaks, a solid workout, and some ok riding mixed in.
Best estimate is 14 miles, 4500 vert, and 6.25 hours RT.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):