Handies Peak 14,058
San Juan Range
Uncompahgre National Forest
8-mile round trip | Rank 40 of 53
East Slopes Route
Seizing one of our last opportunities to climb a fourteener one summer, we headed down to the San Juan’s, our favorite Colorado mountain range. We chose the East Slopes route of Handies Peak, as opposed to the standard route, because, though longer, it is more scenic, offers better campsites in the valley and is a gentler (but trickier) ascent to the summit. Anticipating that the climb would take us longer than it did, we started around 4:30 a.m. The early departure left us hiking in the cold, still darkness. We were thankful we chose the East Slope because sunrise warmed us as we were met with frigid wind and light snow at the summit. We didn’t linger at the top long, rather admiring the view as we made our way back to our campsite, cold but accomplished.
The peaks nestled in this range are breathtaking, laced with magic, mysterious in their history and knowledge. Rich shades of red, orange and blue sweep the summits. We sense these mountains know us before we arrive, are aware of foreigners in their midst and remember those who have tread their trails before. As we made the slow pilgrimage to the summit of Handies, we heard their all-knowing, sage-like whispers, ushering us into the great unknown.