Handies Peak

Date to Climb: July 15, 2009

Date Climbed: June 24, 2009

Elevation: 14,048

Range: San Juan

Latitude: 37.91290, Longitude: -107.50430

Route: East Slopes ll, Class 2

Round-Trip Mileage: 8

Pre-Climb Comments

Handies from Grizzly Gulch sounds like a great hike and it should not be crowded at all. Could be the easiest day we have had in a while. Jake should have no trouble. Back at camp we will have to move to Matterhorn Creek trailhead. The 4WD road will keep us from accessing the trailhead, so we will park somewhere down the road. We might backpack in to the trailhead, or wake up a little earlier.

Post-Climb Comments

After hanging out at the trailhead all night in the rain, we were less than motivated to do Handies. We got up anyway, and climbed.

The hike began through beautiful interspersed evergreen woods and mountain meadows - with lots of steep uphill. Handies from Grizzly Gulch is considered to be a classic hike but without any switchbacks to ease the uphill strain, we began to wonder.

When we finally broke out of the trees, we were greeted to a lush meadow with mountains on all sides. Meandering streams carried snow melt to meet in one cascading creek that ran down its center. Mount Handies was the centerpiece of this cirque of beauty. Soon we could not take our eyes off of the mountain or stop wondering how we were going to get to the top. We took turns guessing but did not know how the trail would tame the steep slopes to only a Class 2 (a hike where you sometimes use your hands.)

Finally we gained a shoulder and saw the rest of the trail to the summit. Weaving through the steep scree fields, we climbed the slope easily. Topping out, we found another false summit and the real summit was still a few minutes away.

Once on top we took a few pictures and were starting down, when Chad (the climber we met on Sunshine), appeared from the other side. He was flying up a very steep route (from another trailhead.) We discussed our trip plans to see if we were going to connect again, said our goodbyes, and headed back down the way we came. Jake did not make the climb with us and was waiting in the car/tent. We needed to hurry down the mountain before it got too warm for him.


The trail down through the upper meadow was as wonderful as the trip up had been. Amy stopped regularly to take photographs of the rock cairns, as she claimed they were artistically designed. We still made it down in under five hours. What a great day.

Handies replaced Yale as our favorite Colorado Fourteener thus far. It was our eighteenth climb.

We packed and left for a big lunch in Lake City and drove on to Matterhorn Creek Trailhead.

Mount Handies - June 24, 2009 summit check