| U.S. Grant
As I start focusing more on the 13ers, I'm finding one of the most enjoyable things about it is not knowing exactly what to expect. For the 14ers you can usually find a plethora of detailed trip reports and a well-beaten path to the summits. When I decided on a backpack trip into Ice Lake Basin, I'd never even heard of U.S. Grant peak, but saw it on the map and it sparked my interest. An exhaustive Google search turned up only a handful of reports and a few photographs. With this information, and the rather vague description in Garratt&Martin, I settled on a goal of Vermillion/Fuller on day one, and U.S. Grant on day two. My intended routes, the Dollar couloir on Vermillion, and an unnamed couloir rising from Island Lake to the summit ridge of U.S. Grant, were both melted out and in no condition for climbing. I was a bit shocked to find this considering the epic snowfall from this winter. I was still able to find some good snow lines on both peaks, and U.S. Grant turned out to be a pleasant surprise. In the interest of keeping a bit of mystery about the peak, I'll provide photographs and only minimal narrative about the route. The view from the summit of U.S. Grant is the best I have ever seen in 11 years of climbing.
Base camp at the upper Ice Lake. I had a marmot control problem here, and had to shoo them away from the tent several times. Fortunately they resisted chewing through the tent while I was out climbing, despite a food bag hanging inside. My tent does say "Marmot" on the side though, maybe they can read?
Rounding the corner to Island Lake, U.S. Grant will be staring you down.
Ascend dirt or snow, depending on the season, to the saddle with V4.
At the saddle, turn right and engage the upper mountain.
A faint climbers trail will help with your footing as you ascend a long slope of loose scree.
Pass through a convenient split in the rocks. Climb the wall beyond to reach a magnificent ledge on the side of a cliff.
At the end of the ledge, a short gully takes you up.
A second, rather unusual, gully takes you higher to the summit ridge.
Summit view: Island Lake
Summit view: Windom, Eolus, Sunlight, Vestal, Arrow, Trinities
Summit view: Uncompaghre/Wetterhorn on the horizon. Sneffels, Dallas, Coxcomb would be out of frame on the left, somehow I didn't take a picture in that direction.
Summit view: Wilson group
Summit view: V3
Summit view: Vermillion, Fuller, Golden Horn, Pilot Knob
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):