Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted: 
Date Climbed:   07/02/2005
Author:  vinn
 July 2nd, 2005 from American Basin  

Saturday we woke up fairly late and headed up to the American Basin trailhead to climb Handies. We drove past the first parking area to make it to the actual trailhead about 3/4 mile further down the road. The trail sweeped up toward a shelf and around several small snow fields. Within about 45 minutes we were in the actual basin. The trail was beautiful and it seems like it was completed fairly recently. At the basin, the trail headed up toward a lake but we decided to climb a snow field and catch up with it higher up. I wouldnt recommend doing that without snow.

The final bit of the climb ascended a small saddle and then turned north toward the summit. The trail is phenomenal the entire way with nicely graded switchbacks all the way to the summit. We were on top of the peak within about 2.5 hours after leaving the trailhead. It was a gorgeous day with hardly any wind on the summit. The sky was very hazy, probably from the fires in Arizona. We couldnt see any other ranges but we did have a great view of the San Juans. Handies sits right in the middle of everything, so we had Uncompaghre and Wetterhorn to the north, Sunshine and Redcloud to the immediate east, and Eolus/Sunlight/Windom to the West. In the distance we could see Mt Wilson and Sneffels. We hung out for quite a while before heading down.

The return trip went quick. We followed the trail to near the lake. Once again, we cut off the trail and glissaded a snow field to the bottom of the basin. We probably didnt shave much off the hike, maybe 400 or so, but it sure was fun. We also tramped down the lower snow fields as well. The entire hike down took an hour. We did miss a route that looked interesting though. From the top you can head north and cut to the left over a knob that sticks out at the edge of the ridge. The snow on those faces will carry you about 2000 feet down. Its possible an axe would be needed, but I suspect an elbow in the snow will work just as well.

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