Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  06/19/2006
Date Climbed:   06/18/2006
Author:  talusmonkey
 Handies & Whitecross Mtn (13,542) - North ridge  

On Sunday we got on the Grizzly Gulch trail about 0620. After climbing several hundred feet above timberline (11,800) we realized that Dawon's standard route (3.3.6 North Ridge) has fallen out of favor over the years. Dawson's route takes you to the Handies/Whitecross Mountain saddle at 13,000. However, the current trail continues much further up the basin and brings you up to the Handies ridge at about 13,600. We did leave the trail to navigate around a snowfield near 13,500 and crossed a narrow snowpatch near the ridge (seven steps). On the ridge we regained the trail. We spurted up the final pitch to the pseudo summit and then over to the real summit. Again, the weather was perfect and we basked and rested in solitude on the summit. The view of the entire San Juan range from Handies was the best I have seen in Colorado! Dave, Jennifer and Scott below Handies:


Under the cornice east of Handies (Uncompahgre in distance):


Dave, Jennifer and Scott on Handies summit:


Flower in bloom on Handies:


Descending from Handies we kept to the ridge, with an intention to summit nearby Whitecross Mountain (13,542). The long ridge from Handies to Whitecross is about 1.5 miles long and we stayed on the ridge the entire time. Mostly class 2, but there were a few class 3 opportunities along the way. We signed the Whitecross summit register as the 3rd, 4th and 5th persons in 2006. The rocks on top of Whitecross were cool. From Whitecross's summit we took a "high speed descent" route down the SE slopes of Whitecross.

The ridge from Handies (center distance) to Whitecross (photo taken on Whitecross):


After returning to the car Scott engaged the autopilot heading back to Lakewood/Boulder. While in the Lake City area we realized that Texans outnumber Coloradans there. Our progress was impeded by large Chevy SUVs with Texas tags...braking excessively on every curve and downgrade. Out of our way you non-driving flatlanders!

We stopped in Johnson Village at the Coyote Cantina and received the worse service I have ever experienced. The food was good, as I recall from a prior visit. However, our waitress (sorry, I didn't get her name) was awful. I ended up tipping a "floor support" lady named "Tea". She brought us three baskets of chips and a pitcher of water while our waitress was neglecting us. I spoke to the manager and she gave us a 25% discount and apologized profusely. We raved about the service we received from Tea and we hope that she was recognized.

Other than the bad service at the Cantina, the weather was unbelievable and the trip was a perfect camping/hiking experience among good friends!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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