Peak(s):  Mt. Sheridan  -  13,748 feet
Peerless Mountain  -  13,348 feet
Horseshoe Mountain  -  13,898 feet
Date Posted:  10/29/2017
Date Climbed:   10/20/2017
Author:  petal53run
Additional Members:   Ptglhs
 Needed Rocks in my Pockets-Sheridan trio-SE slopes   

Weather sources predicted Friday, October 20, 2017 to be the nicest day of the week and being a day off work, I confirmed it as my pick day to climb. The criteria was something not climbed yet within reasonable driving distance. So I settled on the 13ers south of Mt Sherman in the Mosquito range. Multiple peaks sounded even more inviting. Out of bed before the 330am alarm rang, I loaded the car with winter gear (27-45 degrees in Fairplay) and arrived via a clear and dry County Road 18. Daybreak looked sunny through the windshield, but outside, it was chilly with an emphasis on windy. I layered on my winter jacket and pants, bag-balmed my face and up the hill I went.

The wind was nearly nonexistent while wandering through the Dauntless mine ruins and the trail wasn't much better. I could see Mt Sheridan across the snow fields and cornice so picking a safe line was the objective. Microspikes were advantageous in the crusty snow. The sun hadn't softened the eastern exposure of snow, so I could walk on the surface easier than the loose talus sections. A few times I crossed the original trail. Gaining ridge was where I faced the wind. I had to forcibly stomp into the snow so the teeth from the spikes would ground me from being blown back to the starting line.

The view atop Sheridan's peak at 13478ft was breathtaking that morning: a stunning 360 degree view of the neighboring peaks and their geological structures enhanced by the snow. There, I met the other gentleman (who kindly gave me a ride up to the Four mile Creek trailhead) with the same climbing goals. We hiked together the rest of the trip. One success leads to another, so we b-lined it to Peerless,13348ft on a visible troddened rocky and dirt trail, which was just a couple of bumps on the way to Horseshoe.

The next ascent was class 2, but was much tougher in the crosswinds. Twice, I was blown a couple feet sideways. That was a little scary. I developed a strategy to stop and lean into my grounded pole, with my back against the wind gusts. Why are there no tail winds when climbing up these things? We alternated walking on the rocky trail and snow patches. Perseverance paid off. We passed a cabin foundation, climbed up a 4ft snow cornice and went for the cairn towering above the snow field at 13898ft. We stayed long enough to decide that the wind was too brutal to reach Finnback Knob and risk depleting our energy reserves. I ate my peanut butter sandwich with almost frozen jelly while he refueled, too.

Descending was the other story. Putting Horseshoe behind us, we hiked out of the relentless wind east of Peerless and straight to the cars. By now, we were post-holing in the softening snow. We glissaded down as able. So much fun! And fast, too. The whole trip took 6 hours.

In sum, it's hard to believe that miners braved winter conditions and the tormenting winds year round. Kudos to them for leaving the spectacular views, silence and rich history for us. Having hiking company was a pleasant change and since our paces matched, we swapped stories along the way. What made this climb unique was it was entirely above treeline, which made it so fun sliding down: no tree obstacles. And with the snow being glissading friendly, those were the only tracks we left behind.

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