The parking area was along the road about 1/2 mile below the old mill at Leavick. Cars with high clearance and good low range 4WD could possibly go further, as there were some tracks in the snow. But probably a good idea for regular 4X4s to stop by the driveway going to the left before the road trends uphill. There was 12-18" of snow on the road, in the trees. Past the mill, which is at treeline, the road was icy or bare to the area of the summer trailhead, which was all ice. The road was OK, a little ice here & there, below where we parked.
In order to avoid the high winds along the S.W. ridge from the Sheridan-Sherman saddle, we went past the Dauntless Mine site and then contoured north below the Hilltop Mine site and headed for the saddle between Sherman and White Ridge, which is about 400' or so below the top of Sherman. With considerable effort, 6 of 7 persons in the party managed to gain the saddle, where the wind was pushing 60 mph. and it was almost impossible to stand up. One person was getting some frostbite spots on the face. At this point, we called it a day and headed back down to a more sane elevation. The afternoon snowfall was beginning as we got to the cars, and followed us much of the way back to metro Denver. As an aside, snowshoes weren't necessary and we left ours in the cars.
This was the final conditioner for CMC members leaving for Kilimanjaro at the end of next week. One trip participant commented that we had a good conditioning climb for Denali!
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