Trailhead...Intersection of North Lake Trout Road and Hope Lake Road (9850')
Elevation Gain...about 4000'
Mileage...about 12 miles
7:37am...Hope Lake trailhead
10:49am...start of couloir
4:45pm...back at car
Now that winter's over, it's time to switch gears back to the centennials. I'm really excited about this spring / summer because I have some incredible peaks left on that list. The only downside is that all these peaks are far from Colorado Springs. Anyone know of any $2 per gallon gas stations?
A January trip report on 14world got me excited about a Vermilion snow climb. This was a mountain I knew very little about in an area of the state that I had never seen. It didn't take much to talk Dani into it.
We got to our friends' cabin in Ridgway on Wednesday night. On Thursday we drove the Million Dollar Highway for some spring skiing at Durango Mtn. This was my first time on this road, south of Ouray. It's a miracle I didn't drive off the road. I couldn't stop staring out the window.
We woke up early on Friday and drove to North Trout Lake Road. It took about an hour from Ridgway. The winter TH is at the intersection of North Trout Lake Road and Hope Lake Road. In Roach's book it lists the 2nd road as "Hidden Lake Road". This confused us at first and we drove past the intersection and continued on a private road/driveway that led to a huge house.
In the trip report I read, the group ascended along the side of the creek to reach Hope Lake basin. I don't recommend doing that. The safer, quicker way is to follow the snowmobile tracks up Hope Lake Road for 2.6 miles to the Hope Lake TH and then forge your way through the snow to the basin. (don't be too concerned about staying on the trail, it is impossible to follow buried in snow) This keeps you above the cliffs and constrictions along the creek that would make upward travel difficult. Just make sure you don't get too high once you start to exit the trees. There is some definite slide potential under Vermilion's West Ridge.
Here's Dani on Hope Lake Road with Sheep Mtn in the distance
Start of the Hope Lake Trail...the skier tracks proved to be a tease as they ended 50yds in
Breaking above the trees
The view to our right...San Miguel and Sheep Mtn
The first view of our objective...Vermilion Peak
Image #6 (not yet uploaded)
The red line show our approximate route through the first cliff band and up the Southwest Face
Here's a closeup of the couloir we used to get through the cliff band..we decided to call it Mini-Ve
At the top of the Mini-Ve Couloir
Red = Up Yellow = Down
As we got closer to our selected route-red, another option presented itself-yellow. We thought yellow might cliff out so we stuck with plan A.
Straight & steep...forgot to measure, but would guess it averaged 45% and topped 50% in some spots
Finally on the ridge...from here you have to traverse left of 2 or 3 towers before getting to the summit block.
Traversing these sections definitely got our attention
When you get around the final tower you get this ridiculous view...Red = Up Yellow = Down
Here's Dani scrambling up the the ridge, this is the part of the red line you can't see in the last picture
The final section up the rock looked harder from a distance than it turned out to be
Celebrating my brother's 31st birthday...Happy Birthday Homie!
This heli was dropping skiers off all morning...here is our view from the summit looking down over the North side...yeah, it's steep
Had a little cairn fun on the summit...new elevation for Vermilion, 13,985'
Looking back down at the final section..top of the Vermilion $ Couloir is on the left..pretty sure the other couloir we considered tops out right here
After carefully traversing over to the Vermilion-Fuller saddle, it was time to have a little fun
Dani with San Miguel and Sheep in the distance
Image #24 (not yet uploaded)
We decided to try the creek route on our descent..it was fun and beautiful, but I wouldn't want to come up this way
Making our way around on of the cliff sections...there must be so many waterfalls down here in the summer
One last look at Vermilion from Trout Lake