| San Juans 14ers Bonanza 2009 - Day 1 - Handies Peak
We climbed Handies Peak via Grouse Gulch, over the pass, and down to meet the standard route in American Basin. In Roach's book, it says it's 8 miles with 4,100' of elevation gain, but we are very sure that is incorrect. Don't go into this climb expecting something too easy. It's a long slog out with 800' of gain on the return over the pass. Now, to the report. Finding the trailhead was a wild goose chase. In any books by Roach published before 2000, it says to take Colorado 110 past Howardsville and Eureka to the trail on the side of the road. When this book was printed, that road WAS 110. It is now County Road 2. The road leading from Silverton to Silverton ski area is now called 110. Naturally, we took the wrong road, but that's a different story.
After finally making to the trailhead, we made a very late start and began ascending the old mine road up the flank of the mountain.
After about 5 switchbacks, the old road continues toward Grouse Creek and grouse gulch and turns left to ascend it.
Looking down Grouse Gulch
The trail then continues for about a mile up the gulch, gradually ascending:
After about a mile, it starts to climb the left-side ridge of the gulch via switchbacks to reach the pass at 13,000:
This is when Handies comes into view ahead of you:
Now, you must descend the 800' to meet the main trail in American Basin.
The view of the trail you just descended
It was disheartening to have climbed for 3 miles only to descend a chunk of the elevation you worked so hard to gain. This is where we met the American Basin Trail and took it from near the bottom of the trail to the summit.
Our summit photo, me on the right, my Dad on the left.
There we met some nice people, took the summit photos, and began the descent. On the descent we met a friendly weasel sort of thing, and I got a couple photos of it.
Overall, it was a long tiring, but fun day. I realized I need new hiking shoes.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):