Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  08/26/2008
Modified:  08/27/2008
Date Climbed:   08/22/2008
Author:  bergsteigen

 Tour de Handies - The Hard Way  

Tour Group: JB and bergsteigen
Mileage: 9.7
Elevation gain: 4,585'
Time: 11 hours....

Guide for doing things the "hardest way":
1. Chose one of the easiest 14ers
2. Chose the longest, hardest route of 3 possible (since I'd already done the American Basin route) AND plan to add in 2 13ers along the way
3. Possibly go in the hardest direction on the loop
4. Disregard the route description at the crux, and go a different way, then realize later you went the wrong (even harder) way and back track.

Overall a very enjoyable trip, despite the blood, sweat and tears.

A beautiful morning in Grizzly Gulch with Handies in the background.

The ridge to the SE of Handies, a trail is just discernible, angling up the slope.

JB making his way up the slope (in the previous photo) to the lake that looks like a turquoise rubber ducky.

Upon reaching the lake, I look up at the slope, that is the 'real' route and think "Nope, that's not the way up the ridge, it's too difficult, there must be a better way".

Once up on a neighboring ridge we realize it is going to get harder faster than we would like. So the only possibility to avoid an unknown route with possible class 3/4 moves is to back track and go up the yucky steep rock avalanche talus slope.

Views from the "detour ridge" of the correct route
A close up of the slope

What the ridge we first attempted, turned into... and why we turned back

Me, kicking steps into the talus. I had to use one hand to grip something solid and the other was using my trekking pole like an ice axe. So class 3 talus/rock avalanche slope (for me personally). Was hoping the higher slopes around me would not let loose with a barrage of rocks. As it was, everything was at the angle of repose, and you rarely took one step up without sliding back down.

JB happy to be above the nasty talus slope and looking at the way up to the ridge proper.

Longingly, looking back at PT 13,795 that had to be scrubbed from the plan due to the ridge detour and time spent on the talus.

A herd of elk/deer scared away by our presence

A view of the remainder of the ridge route to Handies

Looking back at the ridge walk. The closer we got to Handies, the better and clearer the trail became.

On one of the last high points before the final ascent

Me making my way up on the final push up the summit.

Hurrah!!! We made it, and we are all alone on the summit! Now that's an accomplishment

Uncompaghre, such a unique looking peak, with Handies shadow in the foreground.

Heading down the Grizzly Gulch route (the much easier way), romping along the flowers. Had to scrub Whitecross Mountain as well, weather was coming in late in the afternoon. Otherwise an amazingly beautiful calm day.

On the trail down, the ONLY other person we saw on the trails, left their hiking stick and suntan lotion ON the trail. Odd, very odd. We started wondering whether she slipped down slope, and didn't want to go back up to get her stuff, or just wanted to remove weight. Or worse yet, was she injured, somewhere down slope. We kept looking back up mountain calling out. (Thankfully, her SUV was gone from the trailhead, so she was ok, just left/forgot her stuff)

The home stretch, crossing the bridge. Happy to be 'home'. Time for dinner and a beer!

Actual trip in red, "correct trail" in green

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Will Be There Soon
08/26/2008 21:10
I will be hiking Handies with my wife in a couple weeks. I like the way you ‘spiced things up‘, but I think we‘ll stick with the Grizzly Gulch standard route! Looks like a beautiful mountain, and I‘m really looking forward to it, thanks for the report.


I‘ll stick to American Basin
08/27/2008 03:48
I‘m planning on taking my spouse on her first 14er to Handies on September 19. I think I‘ll stick to the American Basin Route. Thanks for the heads up!

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