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Monday, June 30, 2014

Dad's first 14er - Mt. Sherman

Date:   June 21, 2014
Mission:  Summit Mt. Sherman (elevation 14,036') with 3 generations of Wilburs
Who:  Dad, my wife Siona, my daughter Delaney, my two huskies Altai and Miliya, and me
Total Length:  5.5 or 6 miles
Elevation gain: 2200 ft. for the family,  2700 ft. for me

Dad and I had a very memorable trip into Chicago Basin, but we came up short of one goal, a 14,000' summit.

We decided a family hike up Mt. Sherman would be a fun and much easier trek than the previous trip.  This is a hike my wife has been wanting to do since I did Mt. Sherman a couple of years ago in the winter.

We piled into the truck like a Griswold vacation with my wife, my Dad, my daughter, me and our two dogs.  We left our house at 4am and arrived at the trailhead at 6:15am.  We parked slightly lower than the gate since there was already a moderate crowd brewing.  Crowded trails are not uncommon for "easier" 14ers near Denver in the summer.  Don't misunderstand the "easier" comment, Mt. Sherman is still a legitimately challenging hike for many people, particularly those who are not accustomed to high altitudes.

Having fun!  Dad flipping me the bird while we pass some old mining debris.

Starting at nearly 12,000' in elevation is a lot different than starting near 8,000' like Dad and I did previously.  This high trail head took it's toll on Dad early.  It took him a bit to get his lungs functioning, but after about 15 minutes he found his zone and was cruising up towards the old mines.

Old mining structures along the route.

Above the old mines, there was a relatively steep snow field we needed to cross to gain the saddle at 13,150'.  This snow slope had seen plenty of traffic though and decent foot steps were cut into the slope already.  We put on microspikes for some better traction anyway.  I arrived at the saddle first and told the others I was going to haul ass over to Mt. Sheridan (elevation 13,748') just for the extra summit and I would meet back up with them on Sherman's ridge. 

Delaney (left) and Dad following on the snow slope.  Pic taken on descent.

I was moving as fast as I could up Mt. Sheridan in attempt to get back and rejoin the group.  I think I went from the saddle, to the summit, and back to the saddle in 45 minutes.  I then cruised up the Sherman ridge quickly to rejoin the family about halfway up Sherman's ridge.

We had run into a group of cello players in the parking lot.  They were carrying their instruments to the summit for a concert above 14,000'.  This was really sort of cool.  Our group kept meeting up with assorted members of the cello group on our ascent. 

Dad was cruising along just fine, and although he was fighting a little bit of vertigo along the ridge in sections that had drop offs to one side, he was doing great.

My daughter was keeping him company and before they knew it, they were walking the last hundred feet or so towards the summit sharing some laughs.

Dad and Delaney nearing the summit and sharing some laughs.

At the summit, Dad took in the views, listened to the cellists warming up, called his wife Rita to tell her of his accomplishment, and last but not least, drank some well deserved scotch.  Congratulations Dad on your first 14er summit!

Also, congrats to my wife for her seventh 14er summit.  And congrats to Delaney for her fifth 14er summit.  Family hikes are the best! 


How many families can say they've had three generations on one 14,036' summit at the same time?

We hung out on the summit until I caught sight of an interesting and a little bit concerning cloud.  We then packed up and headed back down, keeping a close eye on this weird cloud until in eventually dissipated around the time we got back to the saddle between Sherman and Sheridan.

Strange cloud.

Dad and Delaney descending the talus.


"It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living, or get busy dying"  ~~ Andy Dufresne - The Shawshank Redemption

Back at the saddle there was a choice to be made.  Glissade down the snow, or walk down the way we came up.  I chose to glissade, my daughter and my Dad chose to walk down.  My wife would end up following me with the dogs running down behind her.

The video does not really show the steepness of this slope.  So, here's a picture and a video.

Glissade trench seen in the center of this pic.

The rest of the hike down was just filled with dreams of food, and good conversation.  We would luck out when driving through Fairplay on the way home and just randomly happen upon a great barbeque competition & festival.  We ate enough to put a dent in the meat market in Colorado. 
One last look back at Mt. Sherman.

Dad happy to be back at the trail head.

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