Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Post Date:  09/10/2008
Date Climbed:   09/05/2008
Posted By:  MUni Rider

 Redcloud-Sunshine-Handies, act one   

Hike date: 5 September 2008

7:10 a.m. start at Silver creek TH. Cool and breezy, the sun is up, but I'm walking in the shade of the mountain. Come on sun, come on!

8:00 brings me to the ice caves. The sun comes soon after.

Looking back on the 1st "cave" that monster ice must have been 20 feet deep!

Darkness within. It would have been a fun exploration with a headlamp, and waterproof boots. I am still headed up hill and don't want to hike with wet feet. On the way back, I still have to hike Handies. So no exploring today.

The water is a light aqua-marine color due to the minerals in the water that had coated the rocks and wood bright white.

Just downstream, the side creek has different minerals. I'm guessing Iron, blood red iron.

Just below that, the avalanche that romed the ice cave has taken a toll on the trees around here. Nothing higher than a few feet is still standing.

But we are headed up, so lets turn this car around and resume our tracks up the hill...

To the right, passing Redcloud's summit above it's cliffs.

9:20 and I'm standing on the ridge. The wind had been building all day. I't relentless headed up from the ridge. I had to hide behind some rocks for about 15 minutes to eat.

View looking back the way we hiked.

And the view over the other side where the grass really IS greener.

From the ridge, the view looking toward the summit, left of center.

10:00 I make it to the top!...of a false summit.

10:20 I'm at the true summit. Just me and the wind. Lots of wind.

Summit shot with the traverse to Sunshine in the distance.

View toward Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre. Yeah, I know. The ground on Redcloud is VERY red!

Five minutes to take a few pics and I'm out of there.

This way to Sunshine.

Across the traverse and 1/2 up the slope to Sunshine you come to this break in the rocks and a nice view.

11:20 One hour later and I'm across the ridge and up ontop of Sunshine.

View of Handies from the top of Sunshine.

View of Redcloud form Sunshine.

Look at that skree slope coming off Redcloud. That's a long one!

The wind has not relented so I'm out of there after 15 minutes, (11:35).

11:48 and I'm at the lowest point on the saddle looking at a sign that says it's dangerous to go down here. So I go down. It's super loose. It started out as a trail but soon gives way to straight down sand/gravel/then rock channels the water had etched out of the skree.

View from about 1/3 the way down elevation-wise.

I can surf/ski a bit. But it's fast. Too fast in some places so I have to arrest my speed. But at one point near the end I stand on a flat plate rock and surf it down the rocks 100 feet or so. It would bog down into the fist-sized rocks every 20-30 feet, I'd reset and head down again. This is a DOWN route ONLY!!! It would take hours to get back up what took minutes to descend.

12:10 p.m. and I'm standing on stable ground in the talus fields of valley below.

12:25 talus gives way to the first grass.

12:30 Trail passes through the first Engelmann pines.

12:35 Treeline is reached. Great camping area if one is so inclined to carry all their crap all the way up here.

Not far below treeline is this neat old cabin.

1:05 I'm back on the main trail. The junction is 100 yards uphill of the 1st ice cave that you saw in the earlier pictures.

On the way out I am greated with a framed view of Handies where I am headed now.

I forgot to log what time I got back to the trailhead. Probably 1:30.

I will resume the trip report in act two.....

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