Mt. Sherman - South Slope
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|Difficulty:||Class 2, Easy Snow|
Ski: Novice, D3 / R2 / II
|Total Gain:||3,100 feet|
|RT Length:||8.50 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Sherman|
|County Sheriff:||Park: 719-836-2494
From Fairplay, drive just over a mile south on U.S. 285 and turn right onto County Road 18. Drive 10 miles to a large parking area at 11,250'. This is the Leavick site. There is a large mine building on the right before the parking area. The road starts to get rough after this point but passenger cars can slowly drive another 1.5 miles before the road gets harsh. There are a couple of small pull-offs between 11,700' and 11,900' and more parking before a gate near 12,000'. The gate is usually closed. In winter, the road is usually plowed only to 11,100' which is one mile below the Leavick site.
This route is recommended in winter or spring when snow coverage is adequate. Park at the winter closure or drive up as high as you like when the road is open, then continue up the road to 11,700' where you have great view of Sherman and the general route - Photo #1. In Photo #2, locate a narrow drainage that hits the right side of the road. This is the bottom of the drainage that runs between Sherman and White Ridge, and much of it will be followed during the ascent. Bypass the rugged bottom of the drainage by walking about 100 yards further up the road to a corner where the road turns left. Why leave the road here? Well, bypassing the lower portion of the drainage puts you on easier terrain and avoids some areas that may contain dangerous snowpack. The bypassed portion has been shown in yellow on Topo Map #2.
At 12,000', leave the corner of the road and hike north up onto a small slope (Photo #3) and across a small basin - Photo #4. There are several ways to hike through this area, but your goal is to head north to intersect the drainage near 12,400'. After ascending a couple of the small slopes, the drainage appears - Photo #5. Continue north by hiking directly up the drainage or on the left side. Near 12,500', Sherman comes back into view and the route up the drainage is fairly obvious - Photo #6. The route turns slightly northwest as you approach the South Slope - Photo #7. Taken from Mt. Sheridan (13,748'), Photo #8 is a different view of the entire South Slope. Above 12,800', the terrain becomes a bit steeper as you climb north below the northwest end of the Mt. Sherman-White Ridge saddle - Photo #9. Follow a wide, shallow gully that may or may not have continuous snow up to the saddle - Photo #10 and Photo #11. Near the top of the gully (13,600'), angle slightly to the right to pass under some steeper terrain up to your left. Photo #12 looks back on the route after reaching the top of the gully.
Taken from White Ridge, Photo #13 shows the remaining route to the summit that is not visible from the route. Just continue north and then northwest up the remaining slope above 13,800' - Photo #14. Photo #15 looks southeast back toward White Ridge and the top of the route. Hit the summit ridge and walk over to the summit - Photo #16 and Photo #17.
This is an excellent route if you intend to ski Sherman. It avoids having to climb the snow slope below the Sheridan-Sherman saddle and provides a more direct line to the summit. Also, if the upper South Slope has good snow coverage (Photo #18), a ski off of the summit can be more rewarding. The drainage route provides some of the most continuous skiing on Sherman and leads right back to the road.
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