Peak(s):  Mt. Sherman  -  14,043 feet
Gemini Peak  -  13,951 feet
Dyer Mountain  -  13,855 feet
Mt. Sheridan  -  13,748 feet
Peerless Mountain  -  13,348 feet
Horseshoe Mountain  -  13,898 feet
Date Posted:  07/14/2019
Date Climbed:   07/13/2019
Author:  Tnesper
 Sherman Grand Slam   

First off, I have to give a shout out to datum313 for this trip report.

I'm hoping I can provide some extra information for anyone who wants to go after this route and hit all the peaks at once.

TLDR: It's best to do these six peaks in this order: Sherman-Gemini-Dyer-Sheridan-Peerless-Horseshoe. Current conditions suggest microspikes. Ice axe and crampons only recommended if you get off trail, like I did. Total hike will be 12-16 miles depending on your trailhead.

I had spent 7 of the past 9 days at sea level, so I was a little worried about how my body would handle a high altitude hike. But with a Chicago Basin trip in two weeks, and Culebra my only high altitude hike this year, I decided to re-summit Sherman with a snob... ahem... purist gain of 3,000 vertical feet since my last summit was from the top of Iowa Gulch road. Then, after seeing datum313's trip report, I thought I might decide to push it a little harder in the process if my body held up. My plan was to follow the gpx report in the trip report, with two modifications. First, I would hike from below the Leavick site for the gain, and second, I would ascend via the Horseshoe route and then work my way over to Dyer, hitting all the peaks in between. I figured I would at least be able to make it to Sherman, so doing the route in that order would give me an easy way down if I felt too gassed to continue to Gemini and Dyer.

It had been two years since I went after a Sawatch/Mosquito hike, and I was reminded of two things. First, I dislike those ranges because class 2 hikes are my least favorite. They don't have the leisurely wilderness enjoyment of a lot of class 1 or the technical fun of class 3 and 4. Also, they're crowded, which led to my first mistake of the day.

I began hiking at 430am. Mindlessly following headlamps and walking up the road, I missed the turn for Horseshoe mountain. No big deal, I'll just follow datum313's route after all. As I began heading up towards the saddle, I saw several headlamps hiking up what I thought was the current snowfield, which was well boot-packed, as other trip reports have noted lately. I had forgotten a key element of all hikes, but especially ones in this range where more casual hikers are with you... never follow a headlamp just because you see a headlamp. Unable to see the saddle in the dark, we were heading straight up towards the red arrow in the picture. As the sunlight began to peek over the ridge to the east, I could see we were in the wrong spot and were now high up with a large snowfield below and a 20-30-foot snow wall above. I was only in microspikes, as all of the reports said nothing more was needed (if you stay on the route). I began to traverse sideways from the red arrow towards the actual boot-packed trail, approximately where the blue arrow is.

Blue=good Red=bad

The snow was grippy, but not enough to make me feel entirely comfortable. I checked each step, and even kick-stepped a couple. I got to within about 10 feet of the actual trail, when suddenly my traction disappeared and I was sliding. I attempted to self-arrest, but without an ice axe, I didn't stand a chance. After struggling a few times I rolled onto my butt, sat up, and put myself in a glissade position and went for the ride. I finally stopped when the snow field leveled out, which, according to my GPS was 280 feet. It didn't feel like I slid that far, but it was certainly more than 100 feet. I am extremely lucky that my traction held in for as long as it did. As you can see in the photo, as you move to the right the vertical length of the snowfield decreases. If I had slipped earlier on, I might be a forum post about the idiot who had to get airlifted off of the easiest 14er in the state. Luckily, I just had a few scrapes and a rash on my arms.


A group of three hikers saw the event unfold, and yelled down to ask if I was okay. "Did it at least look cool?" I yelled back up.

After that, it was on to Sherman, and then along the ridge to Gemini which was uneventful. To get to Dyer from Gemini you have to descend a talus field with very little trail marking. At this point, take a good look at the weather as well as your energy levels to make sure heading to Dyer is a smart move instead of calling it a day. If you go for it, make your way down to the obvious ridge and begin the ascent up to Dyer. The snow was soft enough by the time I got to it to not require traction, but microspikes certainly didn't hurt. On my descent, I was able to glissade (this time on purpose) from the summit all the way to the electrical tower.

After Dyer, it was back over Sherman, down to the Sherman-Sheridan saddle, and up Sheridan. This leads to why I think this order is best.

This is a long hike. Starting from the lower trail head, it was a total of around 16 miles according to my GPS. If you begin with Sherman-Gemini-Dyer, you complete the three peaks that don't have good exit routes should weather turn on you. If weather goes south on you while you're on Dyer, your only exit is to drop down into Iowa Gulch, which puts you in a challenging predicament navigating back to your car.

That said, if you tackle these three first, you have an easy exit route after each of the next 3 peaks. After you re-ascend Sherman, you can drop out down the standard route. From the top of Sheridan, you can also descend to the saddle and out the standard. From Peerless, you can exit the Horseshoe route from the Horseshoe-Peerless saddle. And obviously from Horseshoe you can... umm... descend the Horseshoe route. There were several times I considered taking one of those routes because I was running out of energy, but managed to press on.

My last photo shows each of the first five peaks from the top of Horseshoe. This makes for a long day, but it's one hell of a rewarding hike when you're done with it.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5

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