| Redcloud and Sunshine from Silver Creek TH and Handies from American Basin
Mountains: Redcloud Peak (14,034'), Sunshine Peak (14,001') and Handies Peak (14,048')
1st Leg: Climbed the NE Ridge to Redcloud from Silver Creek TH, bivvied on the connecting ridge, traversed and climbed Sunshine's N. Ridge. Descended over Redcloud
2nd Leg: Climbed Handies' SW Slopes route to Summit from the lower American Basin TH
Elevation Gain - 7600' (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 20 miles (approx)
Roundtrip Time - 11:30 hours
There's not a whole lot to say about the Standard routes on any of these mountains so I'll keep it short. I left Boulder at 2:30PM on Friday afternoon and reached the Silver Creek TH at 10:30PM. The road up until this trailhead is probably doable for most passenger vehicles. There was not a cloud in sight and it seemed like the perfect time for a night hike. I crashed for a little bit and was up at mid-night. I ate a couple bananas, drank water and was on the trail at 12:40AM. Bill's route page leaves nothing to be desired as far as route descriptions go. I was on the saddle (13,000') at 2:40AM. I headed right up the ridge and followed the trail / talus up to Redcloud's summit at 3:45AM. On Redcloud's summit it turned rather cold and windy (my Altimeter said 45, but my Altimeter lies… It felt more like 35). My golite t-shirt and light rain jacket didn't help any. I decided to find a wind shelter on the leeward side of the ridge to Sunshine and sleep for a bit. There's a great spot with rocks arranged in a circle just below the ridge crest, on the East side (probably 50-60 feet from Redcloud's summit). I didn't use my bivy sack but just popped a couple hand warmers in the pockets of my rain jacket, rolled up into the fetal position and slept like a baby. I woke up at 5AM and headed off down the ridge. Under headlamps I couldn't find the trail and headed down the talus instead. I found the trail close to the North Ridge up Sunshine. I summitted Sunshine at 6AM, almost in time for Sunrise. I ate a little and waited… It finally happened…
After Sunrise I started moving back down the route. Here's looking back at Sunshine. Apart from this short section of trail on the East face much of the trail lies west of the ridge crest. If you're looking for the trail in the dark this tip might help.
The descent was rather uneventful. I got back down to the Jeep at 8:50AM. There was still not a cloud in the sky. I ate a sandwich, re-hydrated and drove to the American Basin TH. The road to American basin is not too rough but a low clearance passenger car might have trouble in some spots. I got a little too excited about all the sweet mud puddles lying around and broke a sway bar. The loud continuous clanking made me think it was something much worse and I decided to park at the lower TH just past the first creek crossing in an attempt to minimize what I thought might end up as a towing expense.
I started hiking at 10AM and was soon at the upper TH. The road to the upper TH is very doable for any stock 4X4 SUV.
The trail is pretty solid and easy to follow. A bunch of hikers headed up this mountain (Jones Mountain??) though before they saw Handies across the valley and then descended en masse.
The actual trail though curves to the left once you reach the basin. You get your first sweet view of Handies a short while after taking this turn in the trail. The first leg of my journey had tired me out and I couldn't move very fast.
The rest of the trail up to the summit is really solid and easy to follow. There are sweet views of the basin from the trail.
I summitted at noon, ate a sandwich and chatted with some of the other hikers. There was a huge crowd on summit. The clouds were boiling and I decided to head down quick. The descent went smoothly and I was back at the Jeep at 1:30PM. A couple other Jeepers helped me find a quick fix to the sway bar problem. I drove over Cinnamon Pass, down to Silverton and across the 400 remaining miles to Boulder. These drives to the San Juans are long. My initial plan was to climb Sneffels on Sunday but that would have to wait for another day.
P.S.: I apologize, I seem to be confined to uploading thumbnails until I can find a better replacement for &%^#*#$ Photobucket. I'd appreciate any pointers. If you would like to see the full pictures send me a PM. I‘d be happy to send ‘em over.