Handies Peak - Southwest Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 1 |
Ski: Intermediate, D4 / R3 / II
|Total Gain:||2,500 feet|
2,800 feet if you start at the bottom of the American Basin road
|RT Length:||5.5 miles|
7.5 miles if you start at the bottom of the American Basin road
|USGS Quad.:||Handies Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Hinsdale: 970-944-2291
From Lake City, drive 2 miles south on Colorado 149 and turn right on the Lake San Cristibol road (County Road 30). This is the southern entrance to the "Alpine Loop" scenic byway. Follow the signs to Cinnamon Pass. Drive about 20 miles to a signed fork in the road. Left is to American Basin and right is to Cinnamon Pass. Turn left. If you do not have a 4WD vehicle with good clearance, park in the pull-offs near the start of this road. It's 0.9 mile to the trailhead from the start of the American Basin road. After 0.2 mile, cross a stream which can be fairly deep in spring. If you don't feel comfortable driving through the water, there are some parking spots in the area. Continue to the end of the road where you'll find a large parking area and marked trail.
If you parked below the trailhead, walk up the 4WD road and cross the stream near 11,400' (Photo #1) to reach the main trailhead ( 37.92028° N, -107.51639° W), 0.9 mile from the start of the 4WD road. From the trailhead, follow the trail as it ascends south and then southeast into the basin - Photo #2 and Photo #3. As you approach 12,200', turn left (Photo #4) and continue southeast to reach the base of a slope in the middle of the basin - Photo #5 and Photo #6. Zigzag a couple of hundred feet up the slope to reach 12,700' where you can now see the east end of the basin - Photo #7.
Continue east toward the end of the basin - Photo #8. Handies is up to your left (northeast), but instead of climbing directly toward the summit, turn right (south) and follow the trail up toward Sloan Lake - Photo #9 and Photo #10. Climb 300' south up the slope to reach a trail junction, just north of the lake ( 37.90472° N, -107.5116° W) - Photo #11.
Turn left and continue east onto a rocky area where much of the remaining route can now be seen - Photo #12. Traverse northeast across a talus slope (Photo #13) and switchback up the gentle southwest slope (Photo #14) to reach the 13,500-foot saddle ( 37.90837° N, -107.50587° W) between Handies Peak and Point 13,588' - Photo #15. Turn left and follow the good trail up the ridge - Photo #16. Taken from the summit ( 37.913021° N, -107.504478° W), Photo #17 looks back down over American Basin.
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