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Peak(s):  US Grant Peak  -  13,778 feet
"V 4"  -  13,541 feet
"V 2"  -  13,319 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2018
Modified:  09/10/2018
Date Climbed:   08/30/2018
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   RyGuy, Tony1
 Perfect day in Ice Lakes Basin   

Day 1: V4, US Grant, V2

  • Mileage: 9.71
  • Elevation gain: 4,295'
  • Trailhead: 2nd switchback, Clear Lake Rd
  • Partners: Ryan & Tony
  • Class: 4 - 5.easy
  • Looseness factor: 6/10

I had driven up early on Wednesday, since I have some vacation to burn. Ryan and Tony would arrive late that night for our trek up to Ice and Island Lakes. I had thought to ascend V5 that evening, if the weather held, but I got to Silverton just a little too late for that.

I then had some time to think about my summer's experiments. I hoped they would be positive, but I had my doubts. Since I was recovering from injury, I didn't want to push my body too hard. Once I thought I was back to normal, the monsoons and the fire smoke were so intermittent, it made planning difficult. If it wasn't the monsoons, then it was the smoke. Neither of which I wanted to travel long distances to deal with. Since going Paleo, my asthma has mostly disappeared. No way I'm going to hike in smoke, and do permanent damage to my lungs, after getting them healthy! So instead of hiking for most of summer, I rode my mountain or new road bike around, and only hiked a couple 14ers by either routes I did 18 years ago, or new ones like Tour d'Abyss. I wasn't sure this would be enough to keep up with Ryan and Tony, but I hoped it would be good enough to at least keep up, sorta. We'll find out tomorrow morning.

After a rough nights sleep for everyone (I had a hard time falling asleep after they arrived), we started driving up the road to the trailhead. At the turn off for the 4x4 road, Tony and Ryan kept going (to visit the facilities) and I went up the road. I got to where I vaguely remembered the trailhead, but it looked incorrect. There were "No Parking" signs. So I kept driving up. Looking at my GPS, I saw I went too far. So I drove back down again. When I saw Tony and Ryan driving up, we discussed our options. We figured it was better to park on the next switchback, than to go to the base. We assumed less elevation gain overall.

After all the morning's delays, we finally got onto the trail, well after sunrise. Good thing we didn't have to worry about storms all day long! It was our reasoning behind doing the biggest day of the trip on Day 1. Weather would get worse as the trip went on.

We made good time up the Ice Lakes, where we surprised some skinny dippers. They were rapidly putting on clothing as we walked up to the lake. The moon was slowly setting behind Pilot Knob, so we hung around watching it set. Waiting for the perfect timing. Don't see that often!

Ice Lakes with a setting Moon

Setting Moon

Once we could tear ourselves away from Ice Lakes, we ascended the easy trail up to Island Lakes for another quick photo session. So much beauty in this area!

Looking back on Ice Lakes Basin
Nice trail to Island Lakes

Fall is Here

Island lakes with V4 and US Grant peaks

The slope up to the V4 - US Grant saddle didn't look great, but we stuck to the grass and the more firm talus and soon we were on top of it. From there, the use trail is pretty obvious as it goes around the first set of cliffs, and then turns to the left back up a loose talus gully back to the ridge. Another short loose talus - scree section, and then the nice (optional) scramble finish to the summit. Oh the views! Bright blue skies and not much wind. So perfect! We hung out for awhile and snapped photos.

Some flowers remain
Island Lakes from the saddle

Trail from saddle around cliffs
Talus gully back to the ridge
Ridge to summit

Looking at V3 and US Grant from where you regain the ridge

Summit scramble!

Ice Lakes Basin
Summit selfie

Pano south
Pano north

Far too soon, we had to descend and go for the next summit. Ryan told of us of a rock game him and Brad play where they keep track of the rocks they kick. We let Ryan go first, always, from then on ;)

Descending off the summit
Approaching the V4 - US Grant Saddle

Back at the saddle, the route starts of with loose scree, but isn't too bad, as the slope isn't that steep. Soon we find the crux of the day. The class 4 cliff. This was one of the few areas I researched before hand. The crack on the left was the most appealing, and we all took that option.

Up a loose mini gully
Up a more solid mini gully
Found the crux

Tony going up the class 4 crack

Me topping out the class 4 Photo: Tony

Ryan coming up

Tony at the start of the ledge

More ledge

Ryan and me on the ledge, Photo: Tony

The ledge around to the right wasn't bad at all, and we made short work of that, before we came to the final gully up to the summit. The rock in the gully is quite solid, and soon we were on top of the bicentennial (I only know that because of Ryan).

Gully to summit

Last bit before summit

The weather was holding nicely, and we hung around the summit for a little while. The next section would be more route finding intensive.

Summit pano south
Summit pano north

Looking back on V4

Once we started down, we drifted between ridge proper and slightly to the right/south. The scrambling was varied, and we usually had a bunch of options based on our preference. Before the last notch, the guys chose a class 4 - 5.easy descent, while I found a class 3 section that I liked better. Whenever in doubt, look around the area, there might be something easier!

The view to V2 from summit

Tony starting down from the summit, route traverses here
Looking back to US Grant

Ryan pointing the way, next to an inviting crack

Ryan shoulder deep in a narrow crack. Must be comfortable!

Looking back on the terrain
A short class 4 wish chimney to descend

Me descending the tight notch - Going to assume those are your fingers Ryan ;)

Looking back up chimney
Terrain forward after a short loose gully descent
Looking back after traversing some more

Looking down my class 3 option

Looking back at my class 3 option from the ridge
The guys exiting the class 4 - 5.easy option

Looking back on the class 3 (left) and the class 4+ center and the cliff face on the east side of US Grant

Looking down the last part of the ridge over to V2

Looking back on US Grant after most of the difficulties

Things started to get a bit silly at this point...

One part of the descent to the V2 saddle, I didn't look around for an easier option, and followed Ryan and Tony down a class 4/5.easy section. Since I'm short, I had to ask for a little foot placement assistance, as well as pushing my ass into the wall a bit. Funny, I had just told the story of the first time I climbed the Second Flatiron, and we did the overhanging descent option. I had to yell at my boyfriend to push my butt into the wall, so I could get my foot onto something. All in front of 2 young impressionable boys...

Me about to get some butt pushing action!

Tony about to descend another loose gully on the traverse.
Shadows make the ridge to V2 look moody!

Once at the saddle, we knew all the scrambling was over. Just class 2, so it should all be easy, right? We made it up V2 fairly quickly. and sat on the summit for awhile reveling in the wonderful weather!

US Grant from V2 saddle
Easy trail up to V2
Ice Lakes and Island Lakes basin from V2

Summit pano south

Summit pano north, with Clear lake below

After awhile on the summit, we finally had to descend. Booo!!!! Quick time back to the saddle, then the "fun" scree descent. I wanted to glissade it, and kind of did in spots. Tony crab walked. Ryan was unperturbed and just pounded on down. Would be the theme to the weekend. Ryan pounding the V gullies like he owned them!

Tony crab walking down the scree.

Island Lake with V4 and US Grant

We took the Island Lakes trail back to the regular Ice lakes trail and made a fairly quick exit out. Only the annoying uphill to get to our Toyota's. From there, the guys decided to go into town for dinner, while I went and found camp, ran my solar panel and cooked my meaty dinner and waited for them.

Trailhead NO MORE :,(

Along the way to the campsite we would stay at for the length of the Labor Day Weekend, I saw a group of 3 moose hanging out around the lakes. At least I brought a reasonably long zoom lens!


So how did my experiment go so far? Biking is not hiking. My cardio seems OK, but my quads need more work. So biking helps, just need more uphill on it. Ugggg not quite comfortable on the road bike for fast descents...

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Comments or Questions
As usual, nice report!
9/6/2018 2:33pm
So no parking at that first switchback anymore, huh? Good to know. (I actually didn't get to these peaks on my trip; the updated forecast started looking iffy so I stuck to Yankee Boy Basin for a couple of the bicents there.) Can't wait to get back there!

9/6/2018 3:45pm
Very cool shot of PK and the moon! Beautiful area and looks like some great scrambling! Thanks for sharing!

9/7/2018 2:51pm
CarpeDM - Yeah, they must not have liked the crazy parking job people were doing there. Such a great area, I'll be back, even though I've hiked em all!

Doug - The moon was certainly special! Worth hanging out for a little while to get the shots!

9/9/2018 12:27pm
This report timed out perfectly, and convinced my wife and I to do V2. Thanks for sharing, it was my first trip to Ice Lakes Basin and I will be back many times!

Thanks for posting
9/9/2018 3:32pm
Well-written trip report as always Otina. Greatly appreciate having more good 13er summit beta. You are a motivated mountaineering inspiration

9/9/2018 9:59pm
So you're saying there's an actual TRAIL up V4 (I dealt with traversing the scree gullies on the right/north face), but you scree surfed down V2, which does have a decent trail the Hardrock 100 uses. And the no parking sucks; I realize it's tight there but hope the FS or San Juan County or whoever comes up with a solution. Probably worth posting as a trailhead status report.

Amazing views!
9/10/2018 2:58pm
Tornadoman - Glad you were able to use our trip while waiting for your Wilson finisher!

jasayrevt - Probably the most photos posted for this route! Too many awesome ones not to share.

Matt - With all the traffic, a trail under the cliffs has formed. It's not a CFI trail, but it worked well until we had to go up. Technically the official trailhead is the one off the 2wd road below, but I guess I'll post an update for those of us who know about the sneak.

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