Sunrise from Mt. Sherman
Sunrise from Mt. Sherman, Mosquito Range, Colorado
I followed up my hard-earned success on Mt. Yale in January with a complete fiasco on Mt. Princeton in February. I knew that the forecast called for only a narrow weather window, but I hoped to time my ascent to squeeze through it. Unfortunately, the window closed while I was on the mountain. At 2:30 a.m. on the second day of my trip, I reached timberline and encountered 40 to 50 mph winds, a temperature of 8 degrees and a relentless ground blizzard. There is absolutely no margin for error in such conditions, particularly when you're by yourself. I retreated to my tent, napped for another couple of hours, broke camp, and descended to Buena Vista, where I drowned my sorrows in strong French Roast coffee accompanied by a huge cinnamon roll at legendary local bakery Bongo Billy's.
After my Mt. Princeton debacle, I decided to try Mt. Sherman in April. Mt. Sherman is surely one of the easiest Fourteeners, and one of the few Fourteeners that is relatively safe in snow conditions. To make the logistics even simpler, the road is plowed to nearly 11,000 feet. I drove to the trailhead, camped in my truck, rose at the usual ridiculous hour and snowshoed and climbed to the summit of Mount Sherman on a windy, partly cloudy night. The summit of Mt. Sherman is so broad and flat that it was once the site of a crash landing by a single-engine aircraft. All aboard survived, with only minor injuries, and were rescued by helicopter. I photographed the rippled and wind-carved snow-fields on the summit at sunrise, then headed down, pausing every 15 minutes to shed another layer of clothing in the intense April sun. By the time I reached my truck, I was clad only in long johns and a sweater. Springtime on the high peaks had arrived.