Not In the Plan
I wasn't planning to hike Mt. Sherman, but ended up getting to Leadville a day earlier than expected, so squeezed it into the schedule. It made for a great acclimatization hike for our bigger climb the next day.
Drive to the E. Third Street junction with US 24 in downtown Leadville. Go east on Third street for 0.3 miles to S. Toledo Street. Turn right (south) and drive Lake County 2. Stay north (left) after 4 miles on a dirt road that passes north of the ASARCO Mine. Continue east on Iowa Gulch's north side. Park after 6.4 miles at 11,900 feet.
The road to Mt. Sherman trail head
We ended up getting a very late start on this hike. Much later than I would like, but we had to wait out the weather to see if we'd be able to get a hike in. Finally, at about 9:00, the weather let up and we headed out of town towards our goal. Once we got to the trail head, we found it full of vehicles. Much more than I would've thought for a Monday morning. We squeezed into an open space, donned our gear, and headed out promptly. The trail was very easy to find, off to the right. We hiked about half a mile until we reached the boulder field.
It was slow going. This looked like a place to easily twist an ankle if not careful. The route was very well marked with cairns along the way.
Up to the Saddle
Once out of the boulder field, it was time to tackle the scree on the way up to the saddle between Mt. Sherman and Mt. Sheridan. This part of the hike took the longest. It felt like forever. We even cut one of the long switchbacks. (This area kind of reminded me of Boundary Peak NV) This is where I took out my trekking poles for a little extra assistance. We got a break once we reached the saddle, chatting with an older gentleman that had just summited.
The hard part's over
Across the Ridge
From the saddle to the summit went fairly quickly. Lots of large flat rocks (I was told that they're called dinner plates) I was extremely surprised to see that a 78 year old woman summited shortly after I did. Wow.... what an accomplishment. She was accompanied by her daughter, son-in-law and her granddaughter. Great family support!!
A well-deserved high 5 to the 78 year old summiter.
Time to Run
Unfortunately, we didn't get long to celebrate our summit. I watched as weather headed our way.
Weather moving in fast
I was shocked at the speed of the storm. Everyone on the summit started heading down. I watched as clouds rolled up and over the saddle, leaving us in a white out. By the time we reached the saddle, the clouds had cleared and skies were blue again. Although it was only 2.25 miles back to the trail head, it seemed to take longer than it took to get up (if that's possible)
We made it back to the car without incident. By the time we had driven back to town, Mt. Sherman was enveloped in clouds and it was raining like crazy. I'm sure a few people were caught in the storm. We were safe and dry, watching the rain on the mountain from the local Subway sandwich shop in town, talking about the next day's hike with great anticipation.
Mt. Sherman from town
This peak is rated as one of the easiest 14'ers, but I found it harder than expected. It was very short, but also very steep and lots of scree. Most of the other hikers approached from the other side of the saddle (the route that passes the old mines) but I chose Leadville since that's where I was staying.
Overall, I think this was a great acclimatization hike. I actually thought it was harder than one of the higher 14'ers I did later in the week. I would recommend using trekking poles (especially on the way down) to help save the knees. I reached the summit in about 2 hours, taking frequent breaks to get a breath (I'd only been in Colorado for 3 days - coming from 500 feet elevation) and about 1.5 hours to descend.
The view from Mt. Sherman saddle
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