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 Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
PT 13,795  -  13,795 feet
 Post Date:  03/18/2013
 Date Climbed:   03/11/2013
 Posted By:  Mad Mike

 Handies...SE Spur to South Ridge   

Trailhead...Cataract Gulch (9,600')
Route...Sherman Road to Boulder Gulch/Creek to a Southeast Spur to the South Ridge
Mileage...11 - 12 miles
Elevation Gain...about 5000'
Start...7:00am
Finish...2:30pm

After my Mt. Wilson trip I picked up some kind of head cold / flu-type thing. Why do I ever get a flu shot? Because of my sickness, I had to put my Chicago Basin plans on hold. I knew I didn't have enough time to recover. Looking back, this was probably a good thing. If I did go, it would have been right in the middle of that huge storm from last weekend that dropped 19 inches on Wolf Creek and 12 inches at Telluride.

I got better quicker than expected and realized that my last opportunity to get out this winter was Monday and Tuesday. Work was going to dominate my life for a while starting on Wednesday the 13th...so I decided to take a couple vacation days and head to Lake City. I wasn't too optimistic because there were blizzard and winter storm warnings all over the state the weekend before. Luckily the bubble was up around LC and they didn't get much snow at all. Handies here I come.

The Cataract Gulch TH was clean and clear. I would think you could even get a 2wd car there right now. The route starts on the snow covered Sherman Road. There was a ski track for the first mile and then no sign of any recent travelers. The views on this road are pretty spectacular. Huge cliffs to your right and all sorts of snow and ice climb possibilities to your left.
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You have to hike on the road for about 3 miles before you turn into Boulder Gulch. You are aiming for the valley before the peak in the distance.
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The snow got deeper further along the road and was at its deepest when I turned into Boulder Gulch.
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After stuggling through the snow for an hour or so, the valley opens up and I was able to hike right up the creek.
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The view changes drastically once you get to treeline. This is a huge area with peaks in every direction. I wasn't exactly sure which one was Handies. I had a general idea that it was in the middle of the valley, but from this perspective it was hard to tell what was the highest point. Oh well...I knew I would figure it out as I got higher. Now I just needed to find a safe way up to the ridge line. I chose this option. You could also climb the longer, more gradual ridge to the right (east) of my chosen line. That ridge would take you to pt. 13,730?
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Closer view of the route
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Pretty soon I found myself on Handies South Ridge. Here is the view to the south of American Peak and all of it's tasty snow climbs.
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Handies south ridge
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I like to be warm
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View of the peaks to the north
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Besides the wind, conditions and temperatures were good...so I decided to give BiCentennial Pt. 13,795 a shot. The ridge is it's steepest on the west side of the lowest point, but never exceeds class 3.
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Summit block of Pt. 13,795
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When I got to the summit I was attached by a strange man dressed in all black with petrified fingers. I threw him over the north face and admired the view of Half Peak.
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Square Gulch from the hike back down Boulder Gulch
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Celebrating in the Cataract Gulch TH. Darin...how's my form?
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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (3)
geojed


Awesome     2013-03-18 21:41:13
Sweet pics of American Peak. Way to knock 'em out to end the Winter.


d_baker


3 * 7 .5 * 9     2013-03-19 04:46:45
3: If that is suppose to be a handstand, I give it a 3 (even though I can't do one, so I shouldn't judge, but you asked).

7.5: I'll give you a 7.5 for the effort of doing a handstand on a snowy surface after setting a timer and running (?) to the point you're at in the frame to pull off the handstand attempt. Plus, not so bad after coming off of a long day by yourself.

9: I'll give you a 9 overall for your weird creativity in your reports, and for the winter you had -- given your goals and all.

Nice job Mike.


I Man


Awesome!     2013-03-20 20:12:09
What a great trip this must have been. Thanks for the encouragement. I am pretty darn pleased to have gotten this



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