To approach the north face of "American Peak", start at the American Basin Trailhead. This trailhead is at 11,300 feet and 4x4 vehicles can drive to 11,600 feet. You can get to the American Basin Trailhead two ways. One, from Silverton, by taking CR 2 northeast out of town and following the Cinnamon Pass Road over Cinnamon Pass and down to American Basin. This drive does require a 4x4 or high-clearance vehicle. And two, from Lake City, take the Lake San Cristobal Road west following the Lake Fork Gunnison River towards Cinnamon Pass. This drive is passable for most passenger cars.
From the American Basin Trailhead or 4x4 Trailhead, follow the Handies Peak Trail south into American Basin. Stay on this trail to about 12,400 feet, from here, hike up one of two gullies that lead towards the base of "American Peak". At this point you will be at the base of the north face at approximately 13,000 feet. Depending on snow conditions and you skill/comfort level, there are 4 snow climbs to choose from. Two moderate snow climbs and two steep snow climbs. The two snow couloirs in the middle of the north face are called "Patriot" and "Independence", are moderate snow climbs. The easternmost and westernmost couloirs are called "Victory" and "Traitor", and are steeper snow climbs which melt out earlier in the year. For all of these routes it is about 5.5 miles and 2,500 vertical feet from the trailhead, or 3.7 miles and 2,200 vertical feet from the 4x4 parking.
For all of these routes on the north face an ice axe, crampons, and helmet would all be of use.
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