Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  09/08/2015
Modified:  09/09/2015
Date Climbed:   09/07/2015
Author:  Somewhat of a Prick
 Handies Peak - Southwest Slopes   

When this year started I was on a mission to finish my remaining 14ers this summer. I picked up a few this winter and had set myself up in good position to assault the remaining peaks. As spring/summer progressed I found myself caring about finishing the 14ers less and less. It's hard to explain, my love for the outdoors and mountains is unchanged...but the idea of blitzing through a bunch of peaks to check them off a list just didn't appeal to me anymore. Stopping to smell the roses and enjoy the days in the peaks became immensely more important that just checking them off. Time in the mountains with good friends, a great girlfriend, and even some alone time had become the priority.

Handies was my last remaining "easy" 14er. My girlfriend had done Humboldt with me last season as her first ever, so I was trying to forge a great memory in her mind of us spending a couple days in a beautiful area and having a great hike together.

We left Denver around 4AM Sunday and cruised right to Lake City. The drive up the Alpine Loop was incredible, a great sign for what lay ahead. Even with a busy weekend, there were plenty of open camping spots between Grizzly Gulch and American Basin. We parked the Xterra, threw up a tent, started a fire, and enjoyed the afternoon together.

Some pics of our campsite:

Hey, a few moose:

Drone clips of the area we hung out in that afternoon:

We hit the hay around 9PM. We had dozed off and all of a sudden heard very loud grunting/snorting. I was sure there was a bear outside the tent. My girlfriend was terrified. I opened the tent up expecting to scare off a bear...only to find Bambi a few feet from the tent, chewing some grass. He scampered off but the damage was done. There was no way she was going to go back to sleep outside in the tent. We packed it up and made the beds in the Xterra.

5AM alarms came. She is a slow riser so I set the alarm early so she would be able to eat, get dressed, and not be rushed. She somehow wolfed down and entire sub sandwich, an iced coffee, and some donuts. After eating half her weight for breakfast, we took off towards American Basin. I thought the road up to the trailhead wasn't too bad. The Xterra made it with no issue.

Quick shot of the night sky after we woke up:

We parked and were the first ones on the trail. She was struggling for the first mile, our pace was pretty slow. That's just fine though I thought, we left early for a reason. Taking our time, taking pictures, and enjoying the views was a lot more important than blitzing up the trail.

Early part of the trail:

After the first mile, she picked up her pace and found her groove. The weather wasn't so hot. It was very overcast, windy, and chilly. Sunlight poking through the clouds was rare, and never lasted more than a few seconds. Despite that, we were having a great time talking about life.

Pics from the 2nd mile:

The last mile or so to the summit kind of sucked, which I never thought I was going to say about Handies. It was cold and there was Shermanesque winds slamming into our faces. I could tell she was struggling again, and to be honest I kind of was too. I was a little worried she was going to want to stop and turn around, and she wouldn't have met resistance from me if she had, I wanted her to be enjoying herself instead of going through torture. Instead she didn't complain once and slowly trudged her way up the final slope. She was ecstatic to hit the summit, and that was awesome to see her overcome the winds and the cold...something she definitely is not used to.

Summit shots:

She started running down the trail from the summit almost all the way back to the lake. She was having a blast, saying how she already can't wait to hike another 14er sometime...I was expecting her to say the opposite given the cold windy summit push she just endured.

Parting shot heading out of the basin:

We hit the car and talked about what a great trip we had, despite the sub-par weather.

Mission success.

Comments or Questions
09/09/2015 08:05
Those are some fantastic pictures. Brought back some wonderful memories! Thanks for posting this.

09/09/2015 09:30
Agreed. Your pictures are fantastic. For some reason I’m saving Handies for last, and I think that will be a good choice from your report. One reason is my remaining ones are in pairs (Pyramid / Maroon – in two weeks, Mt. Wilson and El Diente, Sunshine and Red Cloud). I need to see if you have other TR’s just for the pictures!

Nice write up!
09/09/2015 10:17
What a cool looking basin. I keep going back and forth on if I should finish on Handies. Thanks for the write up Prick.

Exiled Michigander
Great Pics.
09/09/2015 14:22
5 left . . . which one are you going to finish on?

Somewhat of a Prick
7 left :D
09/09/2015 14:55
Wilsons, Unc/Wet, Longs, Culebra.

Longs is going to be my finisher...but that’s changed a few times for me already, Pikes somehow checked itself off my list!

Thank You
09/09/2015 18:46
Great Pics and Vid. Pulls on my heart strings and makes me want to come back!!!!!!!

09/10/2015 08:34
Nice read. With 16 left I am starting to think about a finisher, and Handies is a definite possibility. Longs would be a nice choice for a finisher, but so would either of Unc/Wetterhorn in my opinion.

09/10/2015 11:39
Are beautiful!

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