Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  08/20/2009
Modified:  08/22/2009
Date Climbed:   08/17/2009
Author:  14erFreak127

 San Juans 14ers Bonanza 2009 - Day 1 - Handies Peak  

We climbed Handies Peak via Grouse Gulch, over the pass, and down to meet the standard route in American Basin. In Roach's book, it says it's 8 miles with 4,100' of elevation gain, but we are very sure that is incorrect. Don't go into this climb expecting something too easy. It's a long slog out with 800' of gain on the return over the pass. Now, to the report. Finding the trailhead was a wild goose chase. In any books by Roach published before 2000, it says to take Colorado 110 past Howardsville and Eureka to the trail on the side of the road. When this book was printed, that road WAS 110. It is now County Road 2. The road leading from Silverton to Silverton ski area is now called 110. Naturally, we took the wrong road, but that's a different story.
The trailhead

After finally making to the trailhead, we made a very late start and began ascending the old mine road up the flank of the mountain. ImageImage

After about 5 switchbacks, the old road continues toward Grouse Creek and grouse gulch and turns left to ascend it. Image
Grouse Creek
Looking down Grouse Gulch

The trail then continues for about a mile up the gulch, gradually ascending: ImageImage

After about a mile, it starts to climb the left-side ridge of the gulch via switchbacks to reach the pass at 13,000: Image

This is when Handies comes into view ahead of you: Image

Now, you must descend the 800' to meet the main trail in American Basin. Image
The view of the trail you just descended

It was disheartening to have climbed for 3 miles only to descend a chunk of the elevation you worked so hard to gain. This is where we met the American Basin Trail and took it from near the bottom of the trail to the summit.Image
Our summit photo, me on the right, my Dad on the left.

There we met some nice people, took the summit photos, and began the descent. On the descent we met a friendly weasel sort of thing, and I got a couple photos of it.

Overall, it was a long tiring, but fun day. I realized I need new hiking shoes.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Tory Wells

My guess.....
09/03/2011 14:45
A young American Marten.


Great Report!!!
06/02/2011 14:59
I may be doing this route too. And this report was very informative thanks a lot

Also do you have an estimate of how long the hike was?


Glad to help
01/27/2011 03:40
Hi osub4u,
I'm the writer of this trip report but I changed the username. I'm glad to be able to help with your trip. I estimate that the hike took approximately seven hours for two fairly quick hikers to make it. The main concern was making it back over the pass before any bad weather moved in. Enjoy!


06/02/2011 14:59

Thanks for the feedback the route looks long and kinda annoying, I saw the elevation gain near the end, (over the pass). That looks like it could be tiring at the end of a long day. I agree the San Juan's later in the day could be dangerous

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