July 9, 1999 - via Leavick
(photos from June 2009)
I camped at the last legitimate USFS campground below the Leavick town site (perhaps 4 or 5 miles before Leavick) and got up early the next morning for an appropriate alpine start. I parked at Leavick and was second on the trail that winds up the road to a set of mine ruins, before climbing up through the tundra and past a small lake. It had been a good snow year and the lake was still surrounded by a large drift that I walked up and over before finding some more dry road all the way to the Hilltop mine, the ruins perched just below the Sherman/Sheridan saddle. The slope up to the saddle was another large snowfield and I was unsure of the safest way to surmount that obstacle. Rather than climbing the snow sans ice axe and know how, I took the scree scar that leads down from much higher on Sherman’s slope to the road/trail just before the Hilltop’s ruins.
As I write this narrative years later, my route selection was neither the easiest nor the environmentally prudent option. It proved to be a thigh burning slog and in some places, I found myself doing the rock grab and pull to facilitate the ascent. I thought about cutting out and away from the dirt trough but the surrounding talus was “virgin” and not only did I not want to contribute to a new scar but it was really loose. After an eternity of crawl climbing, I made the Sherman ridge line and intersected the tourist trail that weaves its way up the shoulder of the peak to the summit. I soon sat on top and snacked with the pair of climbers who had started just a bit earlier in the morning. They were also axeless but noted that the snowfield was not icy but had a well tracked path switch backing once to drop to the bare slope just above the mine ruins. I quickly settled on that option as my route of descent.
The trip off Sherman was fast and my descent was no exception. Once I reached the Hilltop, the return was a just walk back to the car. The lesson learned from this climb was that I had to learn about snow travel in order to take more exciting routes, more mountain friendly routes, and routes where the descent might best be accomplished on my butt.
Same route in the winter . . . a longer day out for sure.