Peak(s):  Vermilion Pk  -  13,894 feet
US Grant Pk  -  13,767 feet
Golden Horn  -  13,780 feet
Date Posted:  01/28/2015
Modified:  01/30/2015
Date Climbed:   08/30/2014
Author:  djkest
Additional Members:   Chaos Penumbra
 Ice Lake/Island Lake 13ers   

"Epic Adventure IV" 2014
Ice Lake Basin / Island Lake Basin
August 28-29

Each year we set out for our "Epic Adventure", a name chosen by us some years ago before using the adjective became passť. We pretty much end up going to the San Juan mountains every year because they are the best.
This year was no exception, and we targeted Ice Lake basin because of the awesome trip reports on of said area.

Please click the Blogspot links below for great photos which can be enlarged to a higher resolution or viewed as a slideshow. This is one of the first trip reports I shot and edited in RAW before converting to JPG.
>> Part 1: Approach Hike, Lake, and Stars
>> Part 2: Golden Horn, Vermillion, and US Grant

Some additional beta on US Grant:

So right off the bat you encounter a difficulty. I went left the first time and it sucked, I wouldn't recommend. I came down on the right but it required me to jump down about 4' onto a sloped surface. So either way it's a little challenging, steep and loose without secure footing. After this you climb up some steep and slippery terrain that is not exposed.

You climb a series of notches to the summit. One such notch is the crux:

I just don't think there is a "good" way to do this. It's loose, it's overhanging, narrow, exposed. It's really just about 6' near the top you have to squeeze through. I'm glad I lived through this both ways. I had my doubts esp. coming down. After this crux you have a couple more class 3 sections including one awkward spot but it's pretty obvious that you continue up the ridge to the summit. The exposure isn't bad anywhere but the crux. The view is San Juan awesome at the top.

To recap our past adventures:
Epic Adventure I: Chicago Basin via Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad
Part I and
Part 2

Epic Adventure II: Sneffels, Engineer Pass (offroad), Wetterhorn, and San Luis Peak during a wildfire. Featuring our first and last "twofer"
San Luis Peak
side note: I had a roommate named Luis for a couple months in Wyoming. He stole all my socks. He was from Colorado Springs

Epic Adventure III: El Diente, Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Side note: Some people don't like linking to the blog, but I think it's worth your time to check it out. I have put a lot of time into the blog posts, and I have profited $0.00 from it. Thanks!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5

Comments or Questions
Steve Climber

Great pictures...
01/28/2015 18:11
but TR isn’t very relevant this time of year...possible reason for low click–through?

side note: it’s winter.

Jon Frohlich

01/28/2015 19:46
You might want to change it to Vermilion so it comes up in searches correctly.


Nice report
01/28/2015 19:53
very beautiful. Posting these in Winter is fine. Let’s people think of other seasons!! Climb on.


The reason
01/28/2015 21:24
The reason I posted this today is that I’ve been working on it on and off for a while. I didn’t feel like waiting until next summer to post it now that it’s finished.
The part about click–through is regarding my previous trip reports that I’ve done.


01/28/2015 21:40
The more steps people have to take, the less likely they are to reach the destination. People can (and expect to) read TRs right here on When you ask them to take an extra step, they’re likely just to hit "Back" and move on to the next report. It’s not an indictment on your blog –– I’m sure almost all TRs posted as external links get far less views than TRs fully featured on Unless you are trying to make money off the blog, which would take a ton of time and energy and marketing, I wouldn’t worry about it. Nice photos, by the way.


External Linked...
01/29/2015 18:34
...TRs most definitely get a lower response... I should know – I’ve made one! I figure the information is out there – the people that want it will seek it out. Looks like it was a fun trip! Great shots of the ever–photogenic San Juans!

Nice pics and write–up.
01/29/2015 18:56
Makes me yearn for summer.


About US Grant
01/30/2015 19:26
So I am not sure that my route went astray. It’s a tough climb from the V2 saddle. The route is nearly non–existant since so few people climb it from that side. Really, the crux and the initial parts were the only difficult ones. But it was overall loose. At least exposure wasn’t big most of the time. The crux I don’t think could really be improved much without going down and around it, which may have worked, if you like ascending and descending in steep and loose gullies. I didn’t get a lot of pics of US Grant because between the difficulty and being alone I didn’t really end up taking many. However due to your suggestion I have added some pics and descriptions of the 2 difficult parts climbing this side.


Great photos!
01/30/2015 21:14
I checked this out because I have fond memories of Ice Lake and Island Lake basins as some truly beautiful places, and your shots did not disappoint. A bummer to hear that your experience of US Grant -I take it you climbed from the V2 saddle rather than taking on the head wall above the V4 saddle. It would’ve been helpful for any who’ve not yet climbed this one if you had included ideas of where your route went astray and how you successfully navigated the difficulty on the descent. But I realize it’s not a trip report/beta type of blog, but more a photo journal.


01/30/2015 21:17
Yeah, there is some loose stuff there, as your photos show. Now you’ve sparked my curiosity and I’m going to have to look back through my photos, because I descended that side after climbing from V4, and I had an easier time of it – definitely not the loose, sloped stuff you had to contend with.So I wonder where I went...

ur tr’s
02/01/2015 18:36
Thanks for posting. Have done all these peaks, and love ur photogs.


Re Steve–o
02/02/2015 01:15
As per the 1st difficulty pic, I went in between the two lines. There’s a 4th class (1 move) step to the right of the left line. I opted to descend that because it was solid and avoided the loose slopers.

As per the 2nd pic, I followed the same line at class 3. Some loosies but not unreasonable. I only descended it so perhaps a bit different coming up? Either way, nice work.

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