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Sheep Mountain C

 
Sheep Mountain C

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.15881°N / 107.46588°W

Object Title: Sheep Mountain C

County: Gunnison

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 13168 ft / 4014 m

 

Page By: Liba Kopeckova

Created/Edited: Jul 30, 2017 / Aug 8, 2017

Object ID: 1004192

Hits: 178 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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Overview

Sheep Mountain C is a low 13er located in the northern San Juan Mountain range in Colorado. C because they are actually 4 Sheep Mountains in Colorado, all 13ers (above 13,000 feet high) and all within San Juan Mountain Range. 

Sheep Mountain A 13,292 feet is located near Stony Pass and Continental Divide trail. 
Sheep Mountain B is 13,188 feet, and is unranked mountain since the neighboring peak saddle is less than 300 feet in elevation change. It is located next to ranked San Miguel Peak.
Sheep Mountain D is 13,070 feet high and is located in a remote Weminuche Wilderness. 

Sheep Mountain C combines really nicely with unnamed 13100 B peak and you can do it as a nice long hike along Little Cimarron trail. There is not much scree to deal with and if you do the easiest way, it is dog friendly. (I did scramble down a different way and my scramble short cut involved 3rd to 4th class moves). 

Sheep Mountain C and UN 13100 B
Sheep Mountain C (right) and UN 13100 B (left) as seen from the approach - after bushwhack through forest, Little Cimarron Trail would be about one mile below. 


The views from its summit are spectacular, especially over the 14ers Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn and across the valley towards Precipice, Coxcomb, Redcliff and Fortress 13ers. You can expect solitude here. 

Guide to Colorado Mountains with Robert Ormes (sort of a Bible of Colorado mountains) provide some description: "Sheep Mountain 13,1688 gives a fine look at the rough and steep north faces of Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn and company. Unfortunately, to reach it is a marathon. From US-50, 3 miles southeast of Cimarron, turn south on Little Cimarron Road for about 15 miles to reach the Little Cimarron Trail (#229). Where the trail turns briefly west and crosses the 11,000' contour, turn due west to follow a drainage to treeline and then hike up Sheep's broad southeast ridge to the summit. It's a long way in here and you may want to make it a weekend by bagging both Silver Mountain (13,714') and Peak 13,681'. "
Sheep Mountain C
Sheep Mountain C as seen from Little Cimarron Trail - its long east ridge


Colorado Rank: 507

Parent Lineage: Unnamed 13681

Class: 2

Wilderness: Uncompahgre

Nearby Mountains:

Getting There

The Little Cimarron Trail # 229 begins at the Alpine-Little Cimarron Trailhead on Forest Service Road 864. 

From Montrose travel approximately 21 miles on US highway 50 east (towards Gunnison) to the intersection with County Road 864 = Little Cimarron Road. This road is well marked, nicely graded and easily passable by low clearance vehicles. Turn south on CR 864 and continue approximately 16 miles to the Trailhead. There is parking for about 2-3 cars and the trailhead is marked as East Cimarron Trail. Elevation at the trailhead is about 9,720 feet.

Route

Sheep Mountain C
Sheep Mountain C as seen from UN 13100 B
Sheep Mountain C
Sheep Mountain C
Class:
2 (could make it more technical if down climbing the east cliffs on the way back as I did). 
Length: 11.2 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 3,700 feet

Route starts on a nice Little Cimarron Trail # 229. Follow this trail as it climbs gently up through forested area with many meadows. Cross the Little Cimarron river (there is no bridge, I took my shoes off and waded through since the water was high, little above my knees). At approximately 2 miles you enter Uncompahgre Wilderness (sign). The trail continues south through meadows and dense timber, there are some fallen trees on the trail, but those are easy to negotiate. The trail is easy to follow. You will soon get a nice view of a long ridge of Sheep Mountain. You walk through a deep valley and on your right (west) side will be Sheep Mountain. I continued on this trail for about 5.2 miles and where the trail made a sharp turn left and across the river, I started bushwhacking up the slopes towards the saddle between Sheep Mountain C and Unnamed 13100 peak. It was not very steep, or hard. I ended up farther south than I expected, more below Unnamed 13100, so I decided to ascend first the south - southeast slopes of 13100, descend on its north ridge and then onto Sheep Mountain's south ridge
There is an old cabin below UN 13100. I stopped there to explore a little bit (could be an ok place to bivouac in the future). Once above timberline and had Sheep mountain in a view, the route finding was easy and obvious. It is nice that this route does avoid scree - you walk on a trail, through a forest, and on grassy slopes. 
The summit of Sheep Mountain C is huge and down slopping towards north very gently. It appears like a large summit meadow. It is guarded by steep cliffs to its east and west. You will see the steep cliffs on its east side as you will be hiking the Little Cimarron Trail below. 

Descent: I chose to explore a different way down and hike down the gentle summit slopes towards north. It is more than a mile long summit! I continued until the end where cliffs appeared to be everywhere and I was looking for some way to scramble down. It appeared hard, but I remembered seeing a cairn about 100 meters before the "end", so I returned and found a relatively easy passage on steep grass and did some zig zagging between the cliffs. There were section of class 3, I chose to down climb a 4th class chimney, but if one would look around, you could find an easier way down. This brought me down on an open grassy drainage, which brought me back to Little Cimarron trail. I believe that this descent shortened my trip some and definitively added a sense of an adventure. 

Summit of Sheep Mountain is decorated with a nice and relatively big cairn. I did not find any summit register and regretted for not bringing one with me. 

Sheep Mountain C
Sheep Mountain C

Coxcomb, Redcliff and Fortress
Coxcomb, Redcliff and Fortress

Uncompahgre Peak
Uncompahgre Peak

Wetterhorn and Matterhorn
Wetterhorn and Matterhorn
Descend to Little Cimarron Trail
Descend to Little Cimarron Trail
 
Long summit plateau
Long summit plateau


Red Tape

Pink wildflowers
Pink wildflowers
Most of the Cimarron trail is within Uncompahgre Wilderness and wilderness regulations apply here. 

Uncompahgre Wilderness was designated in 1980. The name comes from a Ute Indian word with one of the translations being "dirty water". There are two fourteeners and at least twenty five 13,000 foot peaks.

Wilderness rules apply here: ALL VISITORS PROHIBITIONS:

1. Entering or being in the restricted area with more than 15 people per group, with a maximum combination of people and 
stock not to exceed 25 per group.
2. Camping within one hundred (100) feet of any lake, stream, or National Forest System Trail. 
3. Building, maintaining or using a fire, campfire, or wood-burning stove fire:
a) within one hundred (100) feet of any lake, stream or National Forest System Trail.
b) above treeline. 
4. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than seven (7) days. 
5.Hitching, tethering, hobbling or otherwise confining a horse or other saddle or pack animal: 1) in violation of posted instructions, or 2) within 100 feet of all lakes, streams, and National Forest System Trails. 
6. Possessing a dog which is not under control, or which is disturbing or damaging wildlife, people, or property. 
Note: the term "under control" is defined as the dog being leashed, and/or under direct verbal control by the 
dogs owner or handler at all times. 
7. Shortcutting a switchback in a trail. 


When to Climb

Best is June through October, early May will still have too much snow. 
If traveling in winter, always check avalanche conditions and be prepared to spend the night out. 

Camping

There is a campground near the trailhead (about 2 miles before you come to the trailhead). There is also enough place at the parking lot that one may spend a night in the car there. Back packing camping is available along Little Cimarron Trail. Just follow the Wilderness rules. 

External Links

Images

Sheep Mountain CPink wildflowersSheep Mountain CSheep Mountain C and UN 13100 BCoxcomb, Redcliff and FortressWetterhorn and MatterhornUncompahgre Peak
Sheep Mountain CDescend to Little Cimarron TrailSheep Mountain C"The End" of summit plateauSheep Mountain CLong summit plateau