Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  07/24/2011
Modified:  07/25/2011
Date Climbed:   07/24/2011
Author:  gonzalj

 Handies - Southwest Slopes  

DurangoJenn and I met up Saturday July 23rd in Lake City to hike Handies. Starting off the drive past lake san cristobal up cinnamon pass and to american basin was definitely our 1st challenge of this adventure, but fortunately my 4wd ridgeline handled it well (with some careful maneuvering in numerous spots including the stream crossing on american basin). So after about an hour of driving we reached the 4wd TH and set up camp to a gorgeous basin full of wildflowers everywhere. The next morning we woke up early and started hiking at 6:15. The first half of a mile or so was fairly easy just gradually gaining elevation to where the trail turned and the parking lot disappeared. After a little while though, the trail did steepen a bit, but overall not bad and nothing that a few short water/catch my breath brakes didn't solve, which took us to the 1st challenge of the day, which was the short, but steep switchbacks up to sloan lake. These may have been the steepest of the day, but because they were only for a shirt distance, I just approached them one switchback at a time and overcame them relatively quickly (but a nice little test). After that, crossing rhe talus slope on the defined trail was really easy (basically just watch your steps on the rocks, but no real large talus to maneuver over or around), until the end when the trail joined up with the southwest slope. The switchbacks started fairly steep and then eased off a bit up to the ridge, but based on the altitude and initial steep part was the next good challenge of the day, leading to the final challenge of the day after the false summit at the end of the southwest slopes. The summit ridge was short, but steep (the steepness rivaled the steep switchbacks going up to sloan lake). This part made for a good final challenge (especially factoring in the elevation), but overall the hike was a fairly easy 14er and a great starter one and at least up to this point, the most gorgeous 14er I've done so far (this is my 11th). The views from the summit of all the san juan 14ers was remarkable and all the wildflowers in american basin made this an extremely picturesque hike. Our time for the hike was fairly good (at least for my pace as I'm not really fast and generally pace myself and take numerous water/catch my breath/photo breaks). We left the TH at 6:15, summited at 8:30, left the summit at 9 and were back at the car by 10:40.

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