Peak(s):  "V 2"  -  13,309 feet
US Grant Pk  -  13,767 feet
"V 4"  -  13,540 feet
Pilot Knob A  -  13,738 feet
Golden Horn  -  13,780 feet
Vermilion Pk  -  13,894 feet
Fuller Pk  -  13,761 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2020
Date Climbed:   08/12/2020
Author:  Jon Messah
 Ice Lakes Cirque  

Vermillion was on the mind so thought I would try to make a bigger day out of it. Began at 5am from Ice Lakes TH and made it to Island Lake around 6:15. From there I made the saddle between V2 and US Grant before summiting V2 a bit after 7.

Everything was on well defined trail so far, the last trails I would be on until making Vermillion.

The way up US Grant was uneventful, some class 3 on choss and scarce cairnes but that’s to be expected. After making US Grant around 7:45 I decided to drop down a gully towards Island Lake and then contour below US Grant until reaching the saddle between Grant and V4. This was an alright solution since I had no beta but it seems that one could simply stay proper to the ridgeline on US Grant’s standard route.

Next I made my way up V4. At first I attempted to stay ridge proper but quickly realized this was a mistake and backtracked to find a small use trail which contoured around V4’s northern slope. Definitely take this use trail because it will deposit you right at the base of the 4th class(?) climb up V4. There seemed to be multiple small summits of V4 so I just tagged them all (they seemed to range from 3rd to 4th class.

Atop V4’s western most summit you can see the rest of the day layed out before you. I had wanted to stay ridge proper as much as possible but the ridgeline between V4 and Pilot Knob looked like it required many rappels. Not having a rope I opted to follow V4’s west ridge down until reaching a broad saddle with a low angle scree chute. I scree-ied the chute a bit after 8:30 and linked up with Pilot Knob’s standard approach.

The slog up to the base of Pilot Knob was pretty grim, steep and loose but luckily not too much vert to regain - 1500ft or so. While the Knob looks intimidating I found a nicely cairned 3rd class gully on the west side which allowed safe access to the ridgetop leading to Pilot Knob. I would say the remainder of the ridge on Pilot was easy but pretty heavily exposed in sections. All together I would likely classify it as tough 3rd with 4th class exposure. Either way I tagged Pilot at 10 and made my way back down. I continue to wrap around the base of Pilot on its west side. This was quite loose in spots and I definitely chundered some blocks down into the valley. At some spots there seemed to be a faint use trail but tough to follow and always loose.

I continued to the base of a Golden Horn and quickly made my way up, tagging the summit at 10:40. Ahead lay the most difficult part of the day, I wanted to stay ridge proper to summit Vermillion instead of wrapping around the base like is usually done. This was by far the scariest part of the day and I DO NOT recommend anyone take this route. The opening ridgeline is quite nice, reasonably solid 4th class scrambling. Extensive routefinding is required. I popped out at the base of the head wall pitch and was too sussed to solo it. I ended up wrapping around Vermillion’s east flank on a narrow shelf and cautiously made my way up the Vermillion Dollar Couloir. This was all 4th class until the last 10 feet or so where I admit that there was a bit of low 5th class terrain since the couloir was still holding snow.

Feeling lucky to be in safe ground I made my way to Vermillion’s summit where I met to homies with a dog. I hung out for 15 minutes or so, knowing that Fuller was going to be relatively chill compared to the rest of my day. The good folks let me follow them down to the Fuller-Vermillion saddle.

After all that routefinding it was quite nice to turn my brain off and follow someone else for a change. I made Fuller by noon-ish and went back down the standard way. I kind’ve wish I’d continue toward Beattie and Rolling Mountain but I wasn’t sure the weather would hold and lunch sounded like a better plan.

Once I made it to the abandoned mining shack at the upper lake I was home free. I ran the perfect Ice Lakes trail back down to my car and arrived at 2:30. Oh, and I spent a good amount of time in the waterfall which is close to the trailhead.

In all a great day, although I need to be more caution in places like Vermillion where I felt that I took it a bit far on that ridgeline.




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