Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,043 feet
White Ridge  -  13,684 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2018
Date Climbed:   08/13/2018
Author:  rob runkle
 Sherman with Kids and Friends   

Our primary target 14er for this trip was Mount Sherman. We ended up with a large group for this hike; twelve people total. Anna and I had both done Sherman back in 2016, so this would be a repeat for both of us. It would be new for the rest of the group. Sherman was also Anna's favorite 14er, and she had been looking forward to repeating it. I told Anna that she would need to be the "lead guide" for this hike. She took this to heart and too the lead for most of the hike.

The team for this hike would be:

  • Rob, Anna and Nolan
  • Chris and Garrett
  • Scott, Paula and Emma
  • Tiffani, Aiva, Aubrie and their friend Abby

We agreed to meet in Fairplay at 5 am, with the intent of getting to the Fourmile Creek 4WD Trail Head around 530 am for an early start. We were able to make the drive to the trail head in around 30-40 minutes. We ended up being the first cars at the trail head parking area. We parked up at the closed gate.

We started hiking at around 545 am. As we started hiking, it was clear that everyone was going to be strong for today's hike. Everyone was talking, and nobody's' breathing was very labored. We made it to the first mining ruins pretty quickly (on the left). The kids checked out the ruins. One of the coolest things about Mount Sherman is the many mining ruins that litter the mountain. Sherman isn't the most beautiful hike, but the mining stuff is a cool sample of human history that you don't get to see very often. The Hilltop Mine began operation in the late 1800s, and I'm sure that it was a busy place back then. History is cool.

We continued up the trail, which was basically a very rough mining road. As we passed a mining hole on the right, we noticed that there was an arrow formed in rocks, on the ground, showing the trail going to the right. When Anna and I did Sherman in 2016, we continued straight. There is a solid trail in both directions, but the path to the right is a much friendly grade.

Anna kicking it all off
At Hilltop
Hilltop Wood


Heading up to the Saddle

We continued up the trail, and ultimately reached the Hilltop Mine. There are several structures at the Hilltop Mine plateau. The primary structure had fallen down in the last year or so. It was somewhat sad to see that it had toppled, but I guess that we should be impressed that it had stood strong for well over 100 years. I was glad that Anna had gotten to see it standing in 2016. We continued up the trail. During the ascent, I tried to keep the kids focused on the hike, and did not want them distracted by the mining ruins, the mine caves, and other items. I told them that we could check those out on the way down. I wanted them to save their energy for the summit attempt.










We continued past the Hilltop Mine and took a right, up to the Sheridan-Sherman saddle. Along the way, we had taken a bunch of short breaks. The pace, including the short breaks, seemed to work well for everyone. No one seemed to be having much difficulty. As we worked our way up the very long ridge, to the summit, our group separated a little bit. We were always within sight of each other; and there was no indication that anyone was having issues. People were just rolling at their own pace. As I already mentioned, the stretch from the saddle to the summit was very long. It also had several false summits. We ultimately made the summit in about 3.5 hours from the trail head. I was pretty happy with our ascent time. In 2016, Anna and I had summited in just under 4 hours, and it was only two of us. This was a much bigger group, and everyone summited in well under 4 hours. For several people, this was their first 14er.

Heading up the Ridge


Heading up the Ridge




The whole crew on the summit of Mt Sherman
Silly Faces

Once we hit the summit, I immediately began to initiate my plan to tag White Ridge. White Ridge is an unranked 13er about 1.25 miles away from the summit of Sherman. I had grabbed most of the centennials and other 13ers around Sherman over the years, but never gotten a change to grab White Ridge. I informed the group that I was going to grab White Ridge, and I started jogging down the slopes toward the saddle. I was moving as fast as my lungs and legs would allow. I was hoping to make the round trip in well under an hour. I didn't want the group to have to wait on the summit for me any longer than necessary. Luckily, the skies were "blue bird," and everyone was doing awesome. Spending rest time on a 14er summit in those conditions is a bonus. The route from Sherman to White Ridge as rocky and there was no clear trail for most of the route. I was able to keep a pretty solid pace for most of the trip. I reached the summit of White Ridge in around 24 minutes. I was pretty happy with that. The summit of White ridge was much windier than the summit of Sherman. The summit of Sherman is pretty well wind blocked.

I spent minutes on White Ridge, then started back towards Sherman. I was able to get back to Sherman in about 32 minutes. the trip back to Sherman was a bit longer, because I had to get back up to 14,000 feet. Fortunately, no one seemed to have been bothered by hanging on the summit for an hour. They were all in great spirits. We spent another 30 minutes on the summit, then started down. Everyone was solid on the downhill. Nolan stumbled once on the main ridge, and his pole barely caught between some rocks. The jammed pole pretty much stopped Nolan from face planting into the rock trail, and possibly tumbling a little bit. Nolan is pretty fearless, but that one shook him up a bit. The terrain was pretty exposed and it would have sucked bad if his pole had not caught.

We got to the saddle pretty quickly and started down towards the Hilltop Mine. As we descended off the saddle, Nolan stumbled again, and this time he did fall forward onto the rocks. The terrain was not exposed, so his risk was minimal, but man it look like he took a hard fall. Anytime you fall downhill, it is much worse than falling on flat ground; especially when you fall onto rocks. I checked Nolan out, and even though he was a little bit frustrated, he seemed completely unhurt from the fall. An adult would have been aching over that fall for months. Trust me, I've done it. Nolan never had any residual pain from the fall.

Hilltop Boiler
Sherman from the Hilltop



Nolan at mine entrance at the turn off

We made it down to the Hilltop Mine and checked it out for a while. We took pictures and stopped for a break to eat and drink. We continued down the mining road, and stopped at the various mines and ruins along the way. We ultimately made it back to the trail head in around 2:15 from the summit. (Anna and I did it in 2:20 in 2016)

Nolan heading to the Finish Line!

Overall the hike was awesome. The long snack breaks did everyone a lot of good, and kept everyone going at pretty much the same pace. At no point did I think that anyone was struggling. Total round trip (including White Ridge) was 7:14 hours, 8.3 miles and 2,700 feet of elevation gain.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Great Report
08/28/2018 06:46
Congratulations! What a great family memory for you and your kids.

I love this one!
08/28/2018 11:22
Such a bunch of happy faces!

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