Sherman Winter Ski Descent

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Peak:  Mount Sherman, Mosquito Range
Route:  Ascent of south slopes snow route from Leavick site, summit ski descent of south slopes
Numbers:  3,100‘ hiked, 2,900‘ skied, 10 miles, 7 hours
Partner: Jon Osterbrock
Date: March 15, 2009

I was looking for another ski descent this past weekend as the weather was excellent again and winter is coming to a close soon.  First requirement was a partner, which I quickly found in an old hiking buddy Jon.  Jon skis quite a bit and I figured he would be into the idea of getting a ski descent from a 14er summit so I called him and sure enough, he soaked it right up.  Problem is, Jon does not own an AT setup, but rather some old boots from 1966 when they featured lead buckles, and skis that I could probably use to weigh the back of my car down for winter traction.  Okay, it wasn‘t that bad but I‘ve gotta give the man props for what he lugged up to 14,000‘.

We set off from 11,100‘ on the Fourmile road around 6am, I ended up being able to skin from the car to just above 13,000‘.  We wove our way through the valley and eventually popped out into the huge basin below Sherman and Sheridan.

Skinning across a snow-covered willow field with Sherman at the head of the valley. Photo by Jon.

Jon and his heavy setup. I didn’t envy him.

It turned out to be yet another great, nearly bluebird day in the mountains.  What started off cold and windy turned into mild and warm by the time the sun hit the area.  Jon and I located the gully Bill talks about in the snow route description and we were on our way.  Jon was so weighed down once we really started gaining altitude that I offered to shoulder one of his ski/boot combos.

We continued on up to the only place the snow broke on the entire route: a 250 vertical foot wind stripped section of talus leading up to the saddle between Sherman and White Ridge.  I threw the skis on my back and Jon switched hiking boots for ski boots, we figured we could boot up the rest of the route once we got through the rocks.

Jon nearing the summit ridge with White Ridge behind him.

Once we gained the summit ridge I clicked back into the skis, the snow was warming and creating a good skiing surface, we hit it at a good time on this spring errr…winter day.

Sherman summit.

I skinned to the summit and waited for Jon to show up, the summit was made temporarily higher by a monster snow drift.  We hung out for awhile, eating pb and j‘s and drinking orange juice.  After 30 minutes or so, we were ready to ski.

We dropped off the summit and back onto the south slopes, the snow was a little icy up top but quickly softened once on the south aspect. Around the 13,200‘ mark, the skis came off again and we hiked down to the top of the continuous snow, at this point we spotted several hikers/skiers coming up from below.  The skiing was getting better and better the lower we got, from the top of the continuous line we were able to ski all the way back to the car.  

Jon.

Myself.

We arrived back at the car around 1pm for a round trip of 7 hours, not bad considering neither of us felt particularly strong all day.  Unfortunately we left the beer in the car which you wouldn‘t think would be a bad thing except for the fact that it was 85 degrees in there when we got back.  Its bad enough when this crappy excuse for a winter deprives us of snow up high but when it warms the beer after a ski descent . . . c‘mon man!  In all seriousness, what a great day.  Thanks for reading!

Enjoying a warm one back at the car.