Peak(s):  US Grant Pk  -  13,767 feet
"V 2"  -  13,309 feet
"V 4"  -  13,540 feet
Date Posted:  08/23/2018
Modified:  10/17/2018
Date Climbed:   08/17/2018
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Grant Me Three Wishes (or Peaks)  

Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. In Part 1 and Part 2 of our San Juans trip, Randy and I tackled peaks in the Leviathan Creek drainage and near Kite Lake/Beartown. Tomorrow's objectives: a tour of the Island Lake peaks (V4, U.S. Grant Peak, and V2).

To give credit where credit is due, I got the idea for combining the three Island Lake peaks from Steve (marmot72)'s August 2011 trip report and from a similar tour that Ben (benners) and Kyle (letsgocu) did on Sept. 5, 2016. (Still waiting for the trip report, hint, hint...)

After having pizza for dinner at Avalanche Brewing Company in Silverton, Randy and I drove up the Clear Lake road to the first switchback above the Ice Lake Basin 4WD Trailhead and set up camp for the night. Camping about 1/2 mile from the trailhead would help us get an early start on our climbs tomorrow.

Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. Randy and I drove the short distance to the trailhead, grabbed our packs, and started hiking toward Ice Lake Basin at first daylight. The Ice Lake Basin trail is popular and well-maintained, and soon we found ourselves at the turnoff to Island Lake. This trail is informal but good quality.

Island Lake

The trail fizzled out west of Island Lake, and we headed WNW directly up the grass and scree to the 13,220' V4 - U.S. Grant saddle. From the saddle, a climber's trail bypasses V4's lower ridge difficulties on the north (right) side of the ridge.

Looking toward V4 from the V4 - U.S. Grant saddle. The route doesn't go directly up the ridge. Instead, find a climber's trail that contours to the right below the cliffs.

Looking back at the route around the ridge difficulties from where we climbed back to the ridge

Once we contoured to where we could see a low point on the ridgeline, we climbed back to the ridge and went around the next set of ridge bumps on the left (south). The rock and dirt is loose, but it's not very far to the summit of V4 (13,540'). We didn't find a summit register on V4 (or on U.S. Grant Peak or V2).

The final scramble to the summit of V2 goes up this loose dirt and rock

Fuller Peak, Vermilion Peak, Golden Horn, and Pilot Knob from V4

The windswept Ice Lake from V4

U.S. Grant Peak from V4

The Wilson group from V4

V2 and Island Lake from V4

We headed back to the V4 - U.S. Grant saddle and continued up the ridge toward U.S. Grant until we reached the crux: a 12' step that leads to a 4' wide ledge.

Looking down toward Island Lake from just below the 12' step on U.S. Grant Peak

The 12' step on U.S. Grant Peak. The crack at the left has good handholds and footholds.

Randy, climbing the step

On the ledge above the step

About to turn the corner on the ledge. A short traverse leads to a couloir that climbs through the cliff band.

After traversing right for about 75', we reached a couloir that allows access through the cliff band to U.S. Grant's summit ridge. Once on the ridge, it's an easy walk to the summit of U.S. Grant (13,767').

The summit of U.S. Grant Peak, with V2 visible to the right

Golden Horn and Pilot Knob from the summit of U.S. Grant Peak

The Wilson group from the summit of U.S. Grant Peak

Now for the fun part: traversing an unknown route to V2. The primary beta we had was that ridge difficulties had to be bypassed on the right (south), so off we went.

Some of the ridge difficulties between U.S. Grant Peak and V2

For a while, we were able to follow obvious paths and the occasional cairn before simply going whichever way looked doable. Eventually, we were past the major difficulties and climbed back to the ridge. From here, the descent to the U.S. Grant - V2 saddle went quickly.

Past the ridge difficulties, it was smooth sailing to the U.S. Grant - V2 saddle

At the U.S. Grant - V2 saddle, we saw a memorial to a runner and dog lover who died at age 44. Appropriately, the memorial included a dog collar.



Looking back at U.S. Grant Peak from the U.S. Grant - V2 saddle

Looking toward V2 from the U.S. Grant - V2 saddle

The climb to the summit of V2 (13,309') from the saddle was straightforward. Interestingly, someone had built a large summit cairn on a false summit.

On the summit of V2, with V4 and U.S. Grant Peak in the background

Ice Lake, Island Lake, and (L-R) Fuller Peak, Vermilion Peak, Golden Horn, Pilot Knob, and V4 from V2

Clear Lake from V2's summit

Threatening clouds seen east of V2's summit gave us the idea that we might want to descend soon.

Due to threatening clouds, we descended a short distance from the summit until we saw a scree gully that would take us directly to the Clear Lake basin. We then contoured at about 12,100' around the north side of Clear Lake until we reached the Clear Lake road.

Looking back across Clear Lake toward our descent route from V2

An upside-down silo at an old mine along the Clear Creek Road

An old mine with a collapsed entrance along the Clear Creek Road. Don't drink the water unless you need extra vitamins in the form of heavy metals, arsenic, etc.

The walk down the Clear Lake road to our car was uneventful but seemed longer than expected. I kept hoping we could catch a ride, but we had no such luck.

The Clear Lake Road. Clear Lake is out-of-sight behind the low ridge in the center of the photo.
Blue = ascent route from Ice Lake Basin Trail; red = descent route to the Clear Lake jeep road

Back in Silverton, we got our backpacks ready for our planned excursion from the Molas Trailhead to Vestal Creek for climbs of the Trinities, Electric Peak, and Graystone Peak. Next up: dinner at Thee Pitts Again BBQ.

After dinner, we were in the parking lot at the Molas Trailhead and were about to set out on the trail when the waist belt buckle on my backpack broke. Because we had no way to repair it, we had to call off the rest of our trip and drive home early. On the plus side, Randy took a nice sunset photo by holding his camera through the sunroof as we were driving north toward Montrose.

Sunset south of Montrose (enhanced by fine particulate matter from forest fires)

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

08/23/2018 03:23
Gorgeous area! Thanks for sharing!


Nice report and pix!
08/23/2018 06:40
I especially liked the photos showing Grant's crux. I'm looking forward to that next summer.


Bi's 2x?
08/23/2018 09:04
Hey Randy, nice work out there. You going for all the Bi's twice?

I did do a writeup for that day Kyle and I ran into you. I just don't link em all to this site:



Thanks to all
10/05/2018 17:49
1. Doug, that's one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado. That was my sixth time to that area.
2. Hoot, the rock on the crux is solid and the step is not as hard as it looks. Good luck next summer.
3. Ben, no, I'm not doing the bi's twice but am repeating a lot of them as I help Randy as he works his way through the bi's. Thanks for the link to your trip report; I enjoyed reading it.

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