"Did you guys go all the way up to the lake?"
Harboring a grimace from our faces we replied kindly that we had. Nice folks you come across on a beautiful day in the San Juans...
The plan this go around was to hit some peaks around Ice Lake. Frankly, I would not have bothered with a TR for this trip, but there is not much info on these peaks with snow on them. Besides, who doesn't want to look at some San Juan porn (as my fellow coworkers label my mountain obsession).
We pulled onto county road 7 20 miles south of Ouray around 11 and found ourselves awake 5 hours later hiking up. What planning we did involved Day 1, but we would soon find out our plan would have to wait another year so we headed for Grant, groggy and unsure of what would lie in store.
Snow climb on the approach! Right branch taken
As we reached Island Lake this is the view that greeted us. I know its a little brazen to name features, especially with such an obvious line and short approach, but how about the Union Couloir just between you and I.
The General's Union Couloir
About to turn the right corner for the final pitch
Massive sun cupping killed the grade, however any disappointment we experienced vanished once we topped out the line. Awaiting us was an outstanding view of the Ophir Valley and a great line to the summit ridge.
Summit of Grant ahead
From the summit of Grant we traversed the south slopes to the V4-Grant Saddle where we veered north and headed for V3.
Our traverse off Grant
Looking up TRs for V3 (ex post facto) all the routes come up from Ophir and there is a damn good reason for this as we would find out.
The west side of the ridge and the summit pitch on the SW aspect seen below in the first pic did not look very inviting so we hopped on the other side of the ridge where we knew a SE facing couloir could lead us to the summit.
Mike adsconding. If you look closely you can see V3's smug grin.
One problem....giant cliff bands. Denied.
Salvation lies up the couloir, death awaits over the edge
Defeated, we grabbed "V 4" which did not entail anything really crazy and descended down to our cache way below Ice Lake and hiked back up to the Lake to spend the night there.
The next morning we headed for Vermillion and its million dollar riches.
Gooooood Morning San Juans
Mike attempting to communicate with our E.T. friends, Golden Horn awaking
Vermillion Dollar Couloir...We took the steeper left branch
In all honesty, both Mike and I were not super impressed with the line after researching it, but it was actually quite enjoyable and got to mid 50s in some places. The cornice at the top can be circumnavigated easily going climber's right. Snow was continuous from Ice Lake to the top of the line.
View up the line
Take me to your leader - Boggster toppin out
Pilot Knobb lookin sumptuous
Once we both got the snow climbs out of our systems, we switched gears for peak bagging mode.
After tagging Fuller, we headed over to Beattie and then got our tomato juice on.
View of Fuller and its rowdy neighbor from Beattie
Ridge to V8
The ridge to V8 required lots of class 3 rock hopping, we stayed ridge proper 95% of the time.
Heading to Fuller-Vermillion Saddle with our ridge in the background and Rolling Mtn behind that
Overall, the total ride was about 19 miles with ~6000' of vert and a pretty fun glissade. The snow is lightly freezing over night (just ask Mike whose water bottles froze outside of his bivy) making the snow really nice for climbing (minus the sup cups on Grant).
View from our bivy spot
Tread lightly my friends!