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 Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
 Post Date:  11/10/2009
 Date Climbed:   11/06/2009
 Posted By:  unclegar

 Handies snow and solitude - East Slopes from Grizzly Gulch   

Handies Peak:14048 – East Slopes from Grizzly Gulch – Nov 06, 2009 – unclegar

I had some unfinished business from 2 weeks ago when I climbed Redcloud and Sunshine on a Thursday and slept (translate froze) in my car at the Grizzly Gulch/Silver Creek TH, then rode up to the American Basin TH with hobo13 and jf32. I then went about ˝ way up the standard route to Handies only to have my toes stay so cold that I could no longer feel them and could not seem to get them to revive to the land of the living. I made the tough decision to stop. It took literally ˝ hour per foot to get the feeling back in my toes and then make the disappointing descent to the waiting Jeep. I was only there about an hour when the others arrived victoriously. It was a tough decision but clearly the correct one.

This time I approached Handies from Grizzly Gulch because (A) I couldn't get my vehicle up to the American Basin TH and (B) my preference was to climb from Grizzly Gulch anyway. I started the trip from the TH at about 10am after driving from Bailey that morning. I was armed with hand warmers, foot warmers and warming patches this time. They were all intended for my shoes if needed.

The trailhead sign and beginning of the trail. (Bridge in the background)
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The trail to Handies starts next to the restrooms at the parking area. I had not even gone 100 feet before I decided to stop and put on my Kahtoola microspikes.

I saw that nobody had signed in at the register for about a week. There was snow on the trail immediately but there were still footprints to follow. I was able to load the gps track into my gps before I came. This was a first as I usually only used the gps for tracking of my route.

Snow on trail through woods.
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Beautiful scenery. (L)Redcloud (R)Sunshine (front)Sundog
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The trail was clear in spots.
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Handies comes into view.
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More snow on the trail.
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Close up.
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More nice scenery to look at. To the left of the trail.
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To the right.
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Redcloud/Sundog.
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This was to the left of Handies while ascending the trail. It was a beautiful sunny day.
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More snow on the trail.
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The snow was becoming deeper. At this point I put hand warmers in my shoes on the top of my toes.
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Approaching the basin. There was a lot of snow from this point on.
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Looking back.
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The trail went around this pole and then back to the right away from Handies.
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The snow becoming deeper still.
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Looking back at the snow. Redcloud/Sunshine in the background.
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The snow was becoming even deeper toward the saddle. Postholing up to the knees in places.
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Looking back at my tracks. Having the route preloaded in my gps was a definite advantage since there were no tracks to follow once I hit the basin.
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Toward the top of the saddle I was post-holing up to my waist. The clouds and wind were both increasing.
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Looking back again as I approached the saddle. I was able to get on some of the rocks for some relief from the snow.
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On the saddle looking at the steep trail up the false summit.
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The summit in the distance.
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Almost there. It was very windy on the ridge.
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View from the summit. The wind was brutal so I didn't hang out.
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Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn.
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The register is still there on this one. Beer can on the end.
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I packed up the camera,etc for glissading down. When I reached the ridge again and looked down the back, there were rock formations and snow that would have made a beautiful picture but I was all packed up for the glissade and just too cold to pull off the pack and dig through it. Oh well...

Snow on the trail on the way back.
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Redcloud looking red in the evening light.
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The last part of the hike was in the dark. It took 5 hours to summit and 2-1/2 to return. Another beautiful day in the San Juans!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (8)
centrifuge


nice report     2009-11-10 05:25:37
sounds like a beautiful trip.


huffy13


very nice     2009-11-10 06:03:38
Looks like a great day to be in the San Juans. I loved this hike and the awe inspiring views of Handies from Grizzly Gulch. We descended through American Basin and hiked the road around Whitecross when we did this one last year and it is one of my favorites.


killingcokes


THANK YOU     2009-11-10 08:27:47
Thanks so much for the great report and the awesome beta of snow conditions up there.


Dancesatmoonrise


Congrats!     2009-11-10 08:27:50
Nice job, Gary! Great report. Wish I‘d been able to join you. We‘ll climb some time. Definitely stay in touch.

-Jim


Johnson


Nice report     2011-06-02 08:57:39
Nice TR. Glad you are still getting out. Still wish I weren‘t in Cincy!


Perea


Nice job     2014-04-18 13:27:32
Great day in the San Juans thanks for the invite!


unclegar


Thanks     2009-11-12 21:52:38
Thanks for all the nice comments! Definitely a beautiful area both times I was there. Come on back to CO Barry, and Paul you know you‘ve already done this one.


Kovar

Nice trip     2010-12-16 11:43:12
Looked like a lot of fun. I love the last photo --- that is a great shot of Redcloud.



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