MT SHERMAN 2510 m. 8235′ Lat. 49,25 Long. 116,39.
We’ve come to the conclusion that there is no better way to hike the wonderful east shore Kootenay Lake mountains than by car camping. At least for Castlegar people that is, as it removes about 5 hrs of travel per hike. Our September long weekend car-camping/hiking mini-holiday, and our legs, seemed to be going so well that we made a last minute decision for Mt. Sherman.
Steven’s previous attempt some years back was with a Wendy Hurst KMC group hike around the lake and beyond. All that was remembered about it was to go up the ramp at the west end of the lake. On that trip, #2 group continued around to the far shore of the lake, climbed the ramp and then over to Mt Sherman which once on top, it obviously wasn’t. On that day Ted and Hans scrambled down into the valley via a rather precarious route, scurried across a meadow to the east foot of Mt Sherman, went around a corner for a while, and then reappeared on the obvious summit some time later. They also said it was easy.
Eliane and I felt it worthwhile to share the following directions because we couldn’t find any, and apparently several outings have made the same detour. Someone celebrated the assumed Sherman with a nice blue ribbon which made us smile when we got there. Actually this sub peak is all part of the same east/west ridge, of which the high point is Mt Sherman. The ridge however is beyond the challenge of most.
Mt Sherman trail access is found by driving up the well-marked Sanca Creek FSR. After several miles you arrive at a junction pointing the directions to Haystack Mt or Sherman Lakes. The last km of the road has alder encroaching but it is vehicle passable, we however left our vehicle just before this section.
A short distance along this last stretch of road there is an ATV trail veering off to the right which we ignored. The road soon ends at a parking area with a dilapidated trailhead sign. From here it is a 5 km uphill hike to Sherman Lakes along a fair trail that hopefully the MOF will someday do maintenance on.
Upon arriving at the first lake there is a trace of trail going counter clockwise around the lakes and near the shoreline. Bushwhacking is required. Sights should be set on the mid-spot of the semicircular ridge to the west, behind the lake. As one gets closer you can discern a steep narrow grass ramp which provides the easy route. Once upon the ridge, the assumed Sherman is majestically in front of you (due west) on the other side of a small valley. Mt. Sherman is right behind that.
From here it is best to line up a route that will put you lower down on the left shoulder of the assumed Sherman. If you go too high you will have to drop again because there is another similar valley after that. Too low and you will have to climb back up through brush unnecessarily. Once you are slightly around the aforementioned left shoulder, Mt Sherman appears. The route is to once again descend westward into the next valley, stay fairly high and head for midway on the ridge which is a fairly easy scramble to attain. The hidden side of the ridge is a grassy walk to the top.
Mt Sherman’s views north of Haystack, Akokli and Snowcrest are grand. Kootenay Lake and the peaks of Darkwoods are easily discernible. We returned via the same way to the ridge above the lake. From there we dropped into the basin on a feint path and then continued gradually descending through fairly open forest towards the lakes eastern end. We then stumbled upon an ATV track which led to a nice campsite on the southern shore of the lake. From here it was easy shoreline walking and then onto the trail back down to the truck. We suspect that the ATV trail might have been part and partial to the one we saw at the trailhead.
It should also be noted that the southern slopes of Mt Sherman have been logged and explored to some extent for minerals. This leads us to suspect that there may be an easier way to approach from lower down the Sanca Creek road. But then you wouldn’t be able to see the lakes.
Eliane & Steven Miros
Mt Sherman 8250′
Mike Hryniuk says this is the first peak he ever climbed, the thing that got him interested in mountaineering. Although offering no technical interest, it does make a pleasant outing, this is one of those trips that demands more driving than hiking time.
From Kootenay Bay ferry terminal, head down Highway 3A to the Sanca Creek Forest Service Road (signed), a drive of 46 to 48 km. Following Sanca Creek road, drive to the signed turnoff on the left for Sherman Lake (14.3km). Again following very good signage, follow this road a further three kilometres to the point where it ends at a creek crossing (4WD, low range, high clearance; there are deep water bars). Park your vehicle (lots of space), cross the creek, and follow the signed trail to Sherman Lake (45 minutes ot an hour).
Contour along the north side of the lake until the trail disappears, then gain rockslides and scree to head generally west into a basin above the lake. Make for the low point in a south-tending ridge southwest of the lake (267-738 on Boswell 82&/7) and drop into a beautiful larch-filled valley to the west. Cross the basin and gain Sherman’s quite broken east ridge and follow it over several false summits to the top, a pleasant scramble (2.5 hour from the car park).
Sherman can be gained quite easily from cut blocks on its south side, if you can find the right spur road. However, it seems much ore sporting and scenic to approach via Sherman Lake. Good views can be had from the summit of the mani south arm of Kootenay Lake and of the Nelson Range. John Carter’s book, Hiking the West Kootenay, provides very good instruction for reaching Sherman Lake.