Vermilion Pk - 13,894 feet
Fuller Pk - 13,761 feet
Beattie Pk - 13,342 feet
PT 13,300 D - 13,300 feet
Vermilion Pk - 13,894 feet
Fuller Pk - 13,761 feet
Beattie Pk - 13,342 feet
PT 13,300 D - 13,300 feet
|Vermillion to Hope Pass loop from South Mineral Creek Trailhead|
Vermillion to Hope Pass loop from South Mineral Creek Trailhead.
South Mineral Creek TH 605am
Hope Pass 1215pm
South Mineral Creek TH 200pm
My first trip ever to South Mineral Creek came about due to a minor
obsession of my wife's to visit Ice Lakes basin and climb some of the
surrounding peaks. After about a year of talking about it we packed up the
family and decided to spend a short week camping in the area with hopes of
good times. Our young girls weren't up to a 10+ mile day with huge
elevation so on Friday my wife soloed Vermillion (attempted to get up to
Golden Horn, but didn't like the loose rock below the saddle and turned for
Vermillion and Fuller). With her info on dry conditions to the
Fuller/Vermillion saddle in hand I ditched crampons and ice axe, packed
what food I could find and prepared for my solo trip.
Being 35 fourteeners into completing that list twice due to nearly always
climbing the last decade with others working on their list, I have been
eyeing the top 100 and other peaks with interesting routes. I thought I
had left the peak bagging mentality behind me, but... the traverse from
Vermillion to Hope Pass happened to promise me four peaks I had never stood
atop, including 3 ranked 13ers... My family and I had driven up to the top
of the road where the Hope Pass trail hooks up, and my girls and I had
ridden our mountain bikes up from the campground a ways, so that part of
the return trip was familiar and not bad. That combined with the "2+"
rating given by Roach and Roach gave me most of the confidence I needed
that I wouldn't get myself into too much difficulty while alone. Now I was
just banking on good weather and good legs.
The day started with condensation from our tent camper dripping repeatedly
onto my face from 230am on... lame. Snuggling under all covers to avoid the
internal showers I totally missed my 430am alarm. Shoving my illuminated
watch into my sleepy wife's face to ensure she knew I was starting a full
hour late I finally was walking at 6am, disgusted with myself as I stuffed
my now unneeded headlamp into my pack.
The hike up to Ice and Fuller Lakes was absolutely breathtaking! We've
been to so many wonderful places in Colorado thanks to the Roach's I can't
believe there are still places like this we have missed! Yes it is steep,
yes it is a 4+ mile approach, yes lots of switch backs, but who cares! The
flowers, waterfalls, lakes... oh my! When I got to Ice Lake a very rare
thing happened, I had to sit down on a rock and just stare. After enjoying
a crunchy bar I tore myself away and continued up to Fuller Lake.
My first mistake was not paying attention to the map or description...
Walking up to gorgeous Fuller Lake I saw climbers ahead of me just below
the Vermillion/Fuller saddle, and no trail beneath my feet. I backtracked
a ways to below the lake, swung NW and tried to LNT as I looked for the
trail. I found some cairns after about 100 m and continued. The trail
peters in and out through talus, passes some mines and their associated
trash and covers a lot of ground towards the easily visible trail up to the
saddle. With all the loose rock the trail to the saddle was great, and as
my wife told me, no need to get on snow.
Cresting the saddle, the views were awesome to the west, and knock down
great back to the east! I was very surprised that the trail is so easy to
follow from the saddle to the summit, leading you along the bottom of cool
cliffs to a scruffy gully. Short and not as loose as it looked the gully
passed quickly, hung left onto a broken face and minutes later on the
summit! The summit was a shock for how abruptly it appeared, then the
great catwalk to the high point, and the amazing number of peaks you can
see! (945am). Anyone jaded with climbing a list, or tired of driving
etc., needs to find this place on a clear day to recharge their inner
Traversing to Hope Pass
Weather was looking ok, just a few clouds so I headed to Fuller, easy walk
up on the trail to a neat summit (1015am). Looking over at Beattie gave me
a shot of adrenaline.
Clouds were pretty good, but they were there, like
grey bottomed cotton balls... could be good all day (like the last 3 days),
or could pounce on me while out on a long ridge with poor escape... The
Fuller/Beattie saddle is deep... steep off of Fuller, and steep up Beattie.
I knew if I summited Beattie I would not want to return back the way I had
come. The Beattie to V8 ridge looked like it had a more gentle loss and
gain of elevation. So steeling myself to the risks I hopped down the ridge
Coming down Fuller was loose crud, like trying to surf on a
pile of skate boards without wheels... My legs were shaking and reminding me
that I had not eaten more than a couple 100 calories all morning, but I
didn't hear them. The climb up to Beattie was steep, but not as loose as
coming off of Fuller. What I thought was a great trail as viewed from
Fuller, was more just sand, but it held the rocks like cement, so cool!
Beattie's summit was rounded and made Fuller (1050am) look nice and steep
like it felt. Here I discovered that my daughter's iPhone had died... so no
more pics, and I was hungry. (Funny but the day before our camera battery
died on Fuller while my wife was climbing, which is why I brought the
phone... and despite a bag full of kid entertaining electronics in the
camper, no camera charger...oh well, murphy says the best views come when the
camera is forgotten or dead). I ate a few crackers and shot blocks, drank,
The view from Beattie to V8 looked really neat, narrow, long, and no big
drops or notches to be seen. The view of Hope Lake encouraged me on,
hoping all would stay calm. With more clouds around I hustled onto the
ridge and loved the narrow long talus hop. The exposure on both sides was
cool, but the 4' wide ridge was mostly flat on top so easy to cruise.
Multiple times I was reminded to be careful as a very large and stable
looking rock moved, or dislodged as I tried to hop along. This entire
traverse has dangerously loose rock from Fuller to the pass. I was glad of
my helmet, but feared for my ankles, legs, face etc if my balance missed
one of these surprising shifting rocks. As the ridge got jagged and
narrows near the 2nd low point I was surprised by the only nasty drop I found
(10'). Very easily bypassed down and right V8 was getting closer and
looking fun. Climbing on the ridge to the summit was more joy, only
mellowed by occasional mobile rocks. The views of Rolling Mountain as you
travel this ridge are spectacular! Filling me with thoughts of continuing
my traverse to include V9 and Rolling Mtn... not sure if that ridge
connection goes smoothly, but it looks awesome! (Maybe next year) I
thought that 2+ was maybe overstating the difficulty of any climbing along
the ridge, but must say that the danger of shifting rock cannot be
Met Candice from California on the summit of V8 (1145am), she had come up
from the pass and gave me good beta on the loose crap I was about to
encounter. She recommended staying on the ridge that heads directly to the
west point of Hope Lake. I gave her what info I thought useful as she was
headed for Fuller, and started on my way down. After surfing on many rocks
that I did not want to move, I ditched the ridge and like Roach and Roach
suggest headed straight down to the pass. The rock was terrible, very
dangerous, body sized surf boards moved, slid, and took large areas sliding
with them, I made slides with both feet and even my hands... One 500lb surf
board I made to slide with my uphill hand when I gently placed it there to
balance my step... it could have cut my leg off as it fell 4' and crashed
into the rock just behind my calves. Near here I was out of water, and
only had 500ml Gatorade left. But I knew water would be found down the
trail. After a very long 25 minutes I was on solid talus and quickly
going for the comfort of the trail I had hoped to find.
Hope Pass was mellow and the trail great after all that loose rock (1215pm).
Failing to learn any lessons about looking at maps or descriptions I blew
right by the junction of the mining road and the Hope Pass trail. After
about 3/4 mile and little elevation loss I reflected that the giant cairn I
had passed long ago likely marked the split in these options. Studying the
map I decided to continue on. Roach and Roach's map clearly marks the
road, and it joins the main road around the Bandora mine and where we had
seen cars parked previously. But my TrailsIllustrated map does not show it.
The mining road is not a road anymore, but a
trail with lush growth crowding it in many places. It's rocky however, and
made me wish I hadn't missed the turn off (of course I don't know if the
other trail to South Park is better, my feet just assumed it was). At the
first nice stream crossing the trail I treated some water. It looked
great, not full of weird colors like some streams in this heavily mined
area. I was back on the main road at 115pm and was back at the South
Mineral Campground at 2pm.
All in all a great day, lots of summits, cool ridge, with only loose rock
to whine about. Hope Pass down to South Mineral Creek Trailhead is easy,
but not as pretty as Ice Lake basin (though the views of Twin Sisters and
Rolling Mtn are GREAT!!).
|Comments or Questions|
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