Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, 12/19/09 Mount Sherman (14,036), White Ridge (13,684)

Mount Sherman (14,036), White Ridge (13,684)
~9 miles RT
~3,350 vertical
TH ~1 mile below Leavick Townsite
Start: 7:45am
Finish: 2:00pm
Participants: ~15 Winter Warriors

Stevo proposed a trip up Sherman earlier in the week and the idea blossomed as the weather forecast looked great and a great group took shape. I needed Sherman for a December grid slot, but more importantly, I wanted to tag nearby White Ridge, one of the few peaks in that area I have not climbed.

Allison and I left Louisville at 5:21am on what seemed to be an especially dark morning. I was in a bit of a hurry, sure that I was way behind as many were planning to meet in Golden at 5am. We arrived at the TH in exactly 2 hours and only saw Steve Cassin. Thinking the others were certainly ahead of us and had chanced the snowy road ahead, I drove through ever deepening snow on fresh tracks (Steve’s from earlier), then stopped where he had, as it was evident nobody had gone further recently. After backing up for ¼ mile and parking, the remainder of the group all started rolling in.

Preparation was quick and the early morning temperatures were cold, many with thermometers in their cars reported temps well below 0 in South Park.

Everybody started up the road in groups of 3’s and 5’s, so I never got a true head count or even got to talk with everyone. Though we were split up along the road, numerous stops allowed the group to balloon periodically to near maximum size.

Near the Hilltop Mine, I was getting a bit cold in the wind, so I put on most of my layers in anticipation of colder conditions ahead. Ironically, minutes later, we stepped into a nice wind shadow and I felt as though I was in a sauna. Allison indicated that she was not too interested in Sherman and might just climb White Ridge. Since she was unsure and I did not want to miss out on either peak, I upped my pace a bit (trying to ride the line of going quick enough to make good progress, but not get too sweaty) to the saddle, where I ditched my pack. From there, it was only 10 minutes to the top of Sherman at a steady pace.

The wind was fortunately mostly at my back and I welcomed it, as I was a bit over dressed. I made the summit at 11:12am, took a round of pictures and started the 5 minute jog back down to the saddle, hoping to meet Allison there in time.

She was feeling a bit better and for sure wanted to go over White Ridge and make a nice loop back to the car. We casually strolled the wind scoured ridge, stopping often to track the progress of the remainder of the group. Soon, we noticed that Dave, Emily and Steve Cassin were catching up, so we took a long food break so we could re-connect.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the group were quite spread out and the wind made conditions cold just sitting for a period of time, so we decided to move on, just the 5 of us and 4 dogs. I hope we did not come across as anti-social, it was certainly not our intent, it just sort of panned out that way. I was regretful to not have had the opportunity to talk with everyone as much as I would have liked.

White Ridge summit was a lark, but the views were spectacular and the gentle ridge back to the car was a pleasurable stroll. A few short glissades were managed by Dave, Steve and the dogs. Back at tree line, we postholed without snowshoes a bit getting back to the road, but was no big deal, certainly not worth having carried them all day, so the choice to leave them behind was a good one (Microspikes were very helpful on the ascent, but not needed on the descent). We arrived at the road a few hundred feet West of the cars at 2pm.


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