Handies' East Face provides an enjoyable snowclimb and ski descent. It is best to attempt this route in mid to late spring as soon as Shelf Road opens. If you attempt the East Face prior to the road opening, add an additional 7 miles and 900' of elevation gain to the roundtrip distance and elevation gain and use a mounain bike if the road is mostly snow free.
Handies' East Face Route. Photo: bc44caesar
Drive south on CO 149 out of Lake City. Turn right (west) onto the Lake Fork/Cinammon Pass Road. At 13 miles, you'll reach Sherman Junction at 9,500'. Snow closure is at Sherman Junction. Go right onto Shelf Road (also Cinnamon Pass Road) 3.5 miles to the Grizzly and Silver Creek Trailhead at 10,400'. Shelf Road opens as early as early May.
Head west, cross a bridge over Lake Fork of Gunnison River and continue up a pack trail on the north side of Grizzly Gulch Creek to timberline at 11,800'. Climb southwest into the upper right (north) side of the basin below the Handies/Whitecross ridge. Climb the east face to the summit. The slope angle approaches 45 degrees. Descend the east face or north ridge
. If skiing, stay on the south (north-facing) side of Grizzly Gulch Creek to extend the legnth of the ski descent.
Handies' East Face Route
Roundtrip Distance: 7 miles
Ice axe and crampons if uncomfortable on frozen snow.
External LinksChris Davenport's Trip Report
Guide BookDawson's Guide to Colorado Fourteeners Vol. 2: The Southern Peaks