Peak(s):  "V 4"  -  13,540 feet
"T 10"  -  13,477 feet
Bridal Pk  -  13,510 feet
Three Needles  -  13,481 feet
Trico Pk  -  13,321 feet
Date Posted:  09/18/2016
Modified:  08/11/2019
Date Climbed:   09/06/2016
Author:  Mtnman200
 Alphabet Soup  

Monday, September 5, 2016
I'd camped on the Clear Lake jeep road at the next switchback above the Ice Lake Basin 4WD trailhead because I wanted to arrive early due to the limited parking spaces. This would be my fifth visit to the Ice Lake Basin, and I was here to bag a peak that I'd overlooked on previous visits: V4, which is just down the ridge from US Grant Peak. It was nice to have clear skies after all the rain that fell yesterday.

I set out on the trail just as a couple of climbers arrived and parked adjacent to my car. The trail to Ice Lake Basin is a popular one, but I had it all to myself this morning. That is, I did until the two climbers caught up to me just as I was about to top out into the upper basin. It turns out that the other climbers were Ben Conners ("benners") and Kyle Knutson ("letsgocu"). Ben and Kyle were on their way to Pilot Knob before heading to US Grant, V4, and V2. I felt like a slacker for only having V4 on my radar today.

Fuller, Vermilion, Golden Horn, and Pilot Knob stand guard above Ice Lake (Taken on my way down the Island Lake trail)

While Kyle and Ben continued on the Ice Lake Basin trail, I turned onto the trail to Island Lake. This trail, while informal, has become decent and easy-to-follow in recent years.

Island Lake

Climbing up the loose rock to the V4 - US Grant saddle (right)

V4 from the US Grant - V4 saddle

Looking back at US Grant and the US Grant - V4 saddle

It's best to bypass the lower ridge difficulties on the north (right) side of the ridge

Once past the rock in the shadow (left side of the photo), I climbed back to the ridge and went around the next set of ridge bumps on the left (south)

It's a lot easier to go around the ridge bumps to the left (south)

Just below the summit of V4

The summit of V4 had a summit cairn but no register

US Grant from V4

Kyle and Ben stand triumphantly on the summit of Pilot Knob; I'm glad they heard me yell at them to smile for the photo

I descended to the Island Lake trail and met Kyle and Ben at the intersection with the Ice Lake Basin trail. They were on their way to US Grant, V4, and V2, while I was on my way to lunch at the Brown Bear Restaurant in Silverton. Hopefully all three of us had a good afternoon.

After lunch, I drove north on US 550 almost to Red Mountain Pass, continued about a mile up the Black Bear Pass jeep road, and then turned south on a jeep road that connects with the Porphyry Basin jeep road. There are several good campsites on this connecting road, and I took the first available one I found.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
My plan for today was a long ridge walk between Trico Peak (13,321'), T10 (13,477'), Three Needles (13,481') and T11 (13,510'). Skies were clear when I got up. I headed up to Black Bear Pass and hiked NNE along the ridge to Trico Peak. As I was heading back to the pass, the weather turned ugly in a hurry. Lightning, hail, snow, and high winds made for an interesting combination, and I hunkered down and waited for it to pass.

Trico Peak has that name because the boundaries of San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan Counties meet at its summit

T10 from Trico Peak, with the Black Bear Pass road from Telluride visible

When the storm moved away, I continued southwest and south on the ridge to T10, which is an unusual peak in that it has two summits of equal elevation. While I was on T10, light snow and hail began falling, and I decided that it might be best to skip the traverse to Three Needles and T11. I headed back down and was near Black Bear Pass when the hail started coming down heavily, which reinforced my decision not to do the traverse today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
A week later, I decided to finish the traverse. From reviewing my topo map, I realized that Three Needles and T11 could be done from Porphyry Gulch, so I drove as far as I could up the Porphyry Gulch jeep road, parked, and headed west toward Three Needles.

Approaching Three Needles from Porphyry Basin

Three Needles in the early morning light

I headed to the T10 - Three Needles saddle, which turned out to be a mistake because the summit is toward the south end of the summit block. As a result, I contoured around the east side of Three Needles, finding a couple of cairns that took me to a loose, steep gully south of the summit. The loose rock made me nervous but wasn't an issue once on the summit ridge.

Looks like this lid is all that's left of the Three Needles summit register, although I didn't see any broken glass

Next stop: T11

The ridge to T11 had lots of obstacles to dodge, and after contouring below a lot of them on the west side I wished I'd simply lost a bit more elevation in exchange for more stable rock. I went around a 13,375' ridge point on the west side and, when I came to a 13,434' ridge point closer to T11, simply dropped into the upper level of East Basin for some easy rock-hopping before climbing T11's south ridge.

A closer look at T11. Its east ridge (left side of photo) goes nicely

A look back at Three Needles from T11. The water level in Blue Lake appears to be down quite a bit

According to the CMC summit register, T11 is now officially Bridal Peak as of 2014. I later found a 3/14/2014 Denver Post article confirming the new name.

I headed back the way I'd come, but dropped into Porphyry Basin once I was past the 13,375' ridge point. No point in staying on the Bridal Peak - Three Needles ridge any longer than necessary, right? In any event, I'm glad I went back and finished my ridge traverse.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

 Comments or Questions

Island Lake...
09/19/2016 08:47
I just HAVE to get to that lake!


Image 5
09/19/2016 16:21
That picture is a good perspective on the route (that I recall) from the saddle up to US Grant.

Three Needles is a cool peak, especially when you look down at Blue Lake from up there.

Nice report!


09/20/2016 10:12
Was good to meet you up there, Eddie. And cool shot of us on top of PK Looks like you had a heck of a productive trip down there!


Island Lake, US Grant, and Pilot Knob
10/03/2016 16:28
Jay: Some folks have actually camped on the island in Island Lake. Maybe they took an inflatable raft to get there.
Darin: Thanks. I have plans to climb US Grant again. It's only been 27 years since the first time!
Ben: It was good to meet you and Kyle. I didn't have my tripod and wasn't sure I could hold the camera still enough to get a decent photo. Glad it turned out.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.