Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  06/30/2009
Date Climbed:   06/23/2009
Author:  Mooney Pilot
 Close, But No Summit  

For my first 14er of the season, I decided to have a go at Handies Peak. It was on the list of "easier" 14ers and was near Pagosa Springs, where my wife, my son Cody, and I were spending some vacation time away from the Texas heat. So on a late June afternoon Cody and I abandoned Beverly in Pagosa, drove over to Lake City, and set up camp at the Grizzly Gulch campground. The night was clear with countless stars out. We had an enjoyable evening visiting with other hikers around a campfire, turned in early, and were on the trail well before daybreak.

Immediately after passing the tree line, we were greeted by this view of Handies bathed in early morning sunlight:


There is a solid trail all the way, and the peak stays in view the entire hike:
There are several water crossings requiring some rock hopping:

On the trail to the ridge, approaching from the right side, we became concerned about the snow up ahead:
A closer view as we approached the snow fields:

At around 13,500, the trail was covered by this snow field:

There were footprints in the snow that we could step in without needing the gaiters in our backpacks. But the snow was slushy and slippery. I took a few steps and the unstable footing was just outside my comfort zone. One slip would have resulted in a disastrous tumble. So we turned back within 500 feet of the summit. We didn't have crampons or ice axes. But even if we had, there wasn't much in the loose snowy mush to grab onto.

Even though we didn't reach the summit, it was a fun adventure. And as a consolation prize, we had this view as we hiked back to the campground:


The Handies summit will have to wait for another day. But I'm in no hurry. That mountain isn't going anywhere. And I'll be back.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

you‘ll be back
07/01/2009 00:58
Great mindset, I had my first turnaway to weeks ago on Belford. The mountain will remain for another day. Hard thing to grasp at first, but I‘m not going for a record here! It will wait for my end of summer summit!


It‘s worth returning to
07/01/2009 18:44
Sorry to hear you didn‘t make it, but it sounds like a good decision, based on your situation. Thanks for posting conditions ... I hope to be up there soon.

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