Dyer Mountain (13,855′) | CO Rank: 81/637
Gemini Peak (13,951′) | CO Rank: Unranked
Mount Sherman (14,036′) | CO Rank: 45/637
Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Fairplay, CO
07/30/20 | 6.45 miles | 2,833′ gain | Class 2
I hadn’t successfully climbed a 14er since September of 2018. I’d attempted at least five different times since then but for some reason I kept getting sick on trail or we’d run into unexpected weather. It didn’t matter how many 13ers I climbed, the 14ers were just out of reach. My husband thought I had something blocking me mentally and he may have been right. No matter the reason, I was in a 14er drought and I needed to break it.
My friend Tori had 14er Mount Sherman high on her list and since I’d already climbed it twice, I figured it’d be a good way for me to get over whatever was wrong with me and get above 14,000′. (If I’d climbed it before, I shouldn’t have any trouble climbing it again.) But instead of climbing just Mount Sherman by itself, we decided to make a loop, adding in 13ers Dyer Mountain and Gemini Peak. Maybe this was a way to prove to myself that not only can I climb a 14er, but I can climb two 13ers before climbing a 14er. (This might sound dumb, but apparently it worked.)
We started our loop from the small parking area in the Iowa Amphitheater west of Mount Sherman. The road in is rough 2wd dirt but should be accessible to most cars. Very few others were around, not surprising for 7am on a Thursday. We decided to start with Dyer – saving Sherman for last – so we followed the road to its end higher in the basin.
We soon passed the Continental Chief Mine and its few surviving buildings. The road ends here but a small cairn marks a faint trail that continues up the drainage north of the mine site.
The trail took us through the talus and scree near the mine but abruptly ended in a broad, grassy area. From here, we had a few options to gain the summit of Dyer. If we hiked west, we could gain and follow Dyer’s south ridge, keeping us on more gradual slopes; or we could head directly up Dyer’s southeast face, a bit steeper but shorter overall. We decided to head directly to the summit on mostly stable (though often steep) talus.
We popped out on what we thought was the summit but saw we had just a tiny bit more to go.
We’d only hiked about 2 miles and 1,800′ so far and neither of us were particularly tired so we continued along our loop. (Had either of us felt too tired to continue, we could easily have just hiked back to the car.) Up next was Gemini Peak. We descended Dyer’s east ridge to the Dyer/Gemini saddle. From there we picked up an obvious trail that took us nearly the rest of the way to the summit.
The traverse between Dyer and Gemini went by surprisingly quickly. We particularly enjoyed the “catwalk” – a narrow spot along the ridge. Gemini is Latin for “twin” and Gemini Peak lives up to that name with its twin summits. The pointier of the two bumps is just slightly higher so that’s the one we aimed for. We didn’t bother to summit the shorter bump.
The trail ascended Gemini’s broad western gully. We were near to cresting the ridge when we were startled by a loud roar. Two fighter jets had just sped by, but the mountain prevented us from seeing or hearing them coming until they were directly on top of us (I mean this very literally, they were not much higher than the mountain). The jets were gone before my brain had even processed what was happening, but my heart was racing so fast that I had to sit down for a few minutes. (Whoa.) We were only 100′ or so from the summit so once I was able to compose myself, we continued on.
Gemini Peak is technically just a sub-peak of Mount Sherman and not a unique mountain but it was an easy climb and “on the way” if doing both Dyer and Sherman. Its summit is underwhelming and probably not worth a special trip (sorry Gemini). White Ridge is another unranked 13er off Mount Sherman that we considered adding to our loop but the winds had been slowly increasing and we decided we’d prefer to get out of the wind sooner rather than later.
The hike from Gemini to Sherman was almost completely flat. We found evidence of mining activity in this area (at 14,000′!) and used some of their old trails to gain the summit.
Mount Sherman is one of the easiest 14ers (though maybe not from our particular route) but I still felt happy to have hiked above 14,000′ once again. I seriously hoped that I had finally broken whatever was preventing me from climbing 14ers!
Once we had our fill of snacks and wind, we descended Sherman’s southwest ridge. We were now on Sherman’s standard route and would have a trail the rest of the way.
Once we reached the saddle between Sherman and Mount Sheridan (another neighboring 13er), we headed west down a long gully. The trail gets pretty steep in some spots and can be very slippery (scree on hardpacked dirt is like walking on marbles) so we took our time descending.
The trail led us back into the Iowa Amphitheater which we found to be very lush and full of wildflowers, the exact opposite of the endless rock along the rest of our hike.
We crossed the meadow and climbed the last tiny bit up to the car. Another great day in the Mosquitos!