Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,036 feet
Date Posted:  01/07/2021
Date Climbed:   01/07/2021
Author:  hogantheepic
 Finally, I'm Back  

Finally, I'm Back

Hogan Warlock

A few weeks after I completed my final 14er of my summer project in September, I tore my meniscus while rock climbing. I was looking forward to a lot for the coming winter season, and this injury was potentially season ending. On October 7th, I got the injury. After going to the doctor and getting an x-ray and MRI, it was concluded that I needed surgery. Most meniscus surgeries simply trim off the excess meniscus that is no longer attached to the bone, but my meniscus tear was so large that my surgeon thought that he could potentially sew the unattached flap of meniscus, thus leaving me with a full size meniscus rather than a smaller-than-normal one, which was something I needed greatly as such an active person.

The standard meniscectomy recovery time is 4-6 weeks, but my special surgery was expected to take around 4 months to recover from and to be back to doing high-intensity sports, like skiing and running. With a surgery scheduled for November 12th, I would end up losing about half of my ski season and pretty much all of the winter calendar period of the season for bagging 14ers. I was extremely bummed out about the prospects of losing my ski season, but I decided that I would have the special surgery anyways because I'd rather be set for life than have one season back. I ended up mentally preparing myself for the 4 months of boredom and inactivity by rationalizing that it wasn't the end of the world, but for my entire life, my lifestyle had revolved around the outdoors and being active, so to suddenly switch to being house-bound, even couch-bound, for months would be very difficult for me. I accepted it in the end and came into the surgery prepared to make such a change. Of course, after a month of having pain and a limited range of motion in my left knee, about 4 days before the surgery, I did a quick lap of the 2nd flatiron as one last hurrah. My knee was feeling its best that weekend and I felt that it was something I could handle. Luckily, it was, and I had no problems getting up the flatiron, and the descent was done entirely by limp.

I had never had surgery before, and wasn't sure what to expect. It's a pretty strange feeling to put your complete trust and life in the hands of a bunch of strangers who would be poking around inside your body to (hopefully) fix something in you. Weirder yet is what happened during my surgery.

Dr. Bravman is one of the most qualified individuals in the country for surgeries of this nature, and I fully expected him to do a perfect job. When he opened up my knee, he discovered that I actually had an abnormal meniscus growth, and it was this growth that was causing the problems. He simply switched the procedure from reattaching the meniscus to a simple meniscectomy, where he trimmed off the excess growth. The effect of this was that I now had a perfectly normal meniscus, as well as a 4-6 week recovery rather than a 4 month recovery. This was even better than the perfect scenario any of us had been envisioning, and I feel extremely lucky and grateful about this outcome. It is because of this that I was able to begin skiing, rock-climbing, and peakbagging again in January.

After 2 months of virtually zero physical activity, and even a little longer without climbing a 14er, I was in terrible shape and un-acclimatized. I was invited on a trip to climb Mt Adams and California Peak in the Sangre de Cristos, and I hoped that I would be able to do these peaks despite the months of inactivity. I don't want to talk about that trip, other than to say that it was an eye-opener, and a disaster for me. I realized I needed to start doing some climbing and such again, and to do some easy 14ers in order to get back into it. Mt Sherman it is, then.

I woke up at 7 am at my apartment in Boulder, and was audi by 7:20. I drove the 2.5 ish hours to four mile creek trailhead (the winter trailhead). By the time I started hiking, it was about 10:20.

There were a surprising number of cars at this trailhead, but I only saw 2 other parties the whole time. One of them were nearly back to the trailhead when I saw them, and I don't even think they climbed anything. They were just on a walk.

The other party was another soloer, whom I stopped and talked to for a little bit. Apparently he was training for a Denali attempt in May. If you're reading this Matt, good luck with that! Sounds awesome!

I made decent time getting up the road. Eventually, I hitched up a snow-less hill towards Sherman. There were routes up the mountain which touched virtually no snow until near the summit. It was a pretty bare hike.

That said, there was a gully that ran for around a thousand feet down the mountain that was pretty safe against avalanches due to how thin the snowpack was (only about a foot deep on average) and how the slope angle of most of the gully was quite shallow. I brought my skis and everything up with me, but I decided to leave it in the car because I wanted an easy hike for acclimatizing and to get into shape, but after climbing up this gully, I majorly regretted not bringing the skis because it would've been an extremely fun ski down the gully.

Once I was near the top of the gully and close to the saddle, the winds had picked up to like 30-40 mph at least, and it was blowing from the east rather than from the west, which meant that for moments I was in a whiteout of super strong snow-laden winds. I was having fun, though, battling the wind and its' subsequent chill.

Naturally, right when I reached the summit, the wind disappeared, and my hopes to the wind-forces had been answered. I took some pictures, and then headed back down.

I practically flew down the mountain, glissading where I could and striding down the snow and rocks. It was a pretty fun descent, even without skis. I would've gone over and done Gemini and taken a little more time on the summit, except, due to me beginning the hike at like 10:20 am, the daylight was running out, and I wanted to get back to the car before twilight.

I got back to the car and stopped Strava, which claimed that the hike had been exactly 7 hours. Nice.

The cars ended up not making it in the picture besides mine
The winter closure doesn't have a gate but it does have a sign that you should listen to
Starting the hike
Horseshoe Mountain saying hello
A lot of the road was actually bare
Almost to treeline
It got windy quick
Almost to where I left the road
Sheridan in the background, an avalanche that probably happened in the last couple days in the foreground
Following the right side of the gully up most of the mountain
Gettin that snowflake
An old mine nearly buried
The upper part of the gully
It was very windy
Somewhere in winter
Nearing the top
Looking along the summit ridge
Looking up to the true summit
From the summit
Summit pic
Mt Sherman
I really wanna ski this couloir this spring but I have no idea if it's skiable without a rappel or whether it fills in or if it's even named or anything

As always,

Risk is for managing, not for chance.

~Hogan Warlock~

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

01/08/2021 19:08
You passed me and my brother after we bailed on Horseshoe due to some gnarly wind slabs and cracking snowfields that spooked us. Glad you had a better time than we did.

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