Peak(s):  Vermilion Pk  -  13,894 feet
Date Posted:  04/06/2011
Date Climbed:   04/01/2011
Author:  Dad Mike
 A Cool Vermilion   

Trailhead...Intersection of North Lake Trout Road and Hope Lake Road (9850')
Elevation Gain...about 4000'
Mileage...about 12 miles
Route...Southwest Face

7:37am...Hope Lake trailhead
10:49am...start of couloir
4:45pm...back at car

Now that winter's over, it's time to switch gears back to the centennials. I'm really excited about this spring / summer because I have some incredible peaks left on that list. The only downside is that all these peaks are far from Colorado Springs. Anyone know of any $2 per gallon gas stations?

A January trip report on 14world got me excited about a Vermilion snow climb. This was a mountain I knew very little about in an area of the state that I had never seen. It didn't take much to talk Dani into it.

We got to our friends' cabin in Ridgway on Wednesday night. On Thursday we drove the Million Dollar Highway for some spring skiing at Durango Mtn. This was my first time on this road, south of Ouray. It's a miracle I didn't drive off the road. I couldn't stop staring out the window.

We woke up early on Friday and drove to North Trout Lake Road. It took about an hour from Ridgway. The winter TH is at the intersection of North Trout Lake Road and Hope Lake Road. In Roach's book it lists the 2nd road as "Hidden Lake Road". This confused us at first and we drove past the intersection and continued on a private road/driveway that led to a huge house.

In the trip report I read, the group ascended along the side of the creek to reach Hope Lake basin. I don't recommend doing that. The safer, quicker way is to follow the snowmobile tracks up Hope Lake Road for 2.6 miles to the Hope Lake TH and then forge your way through the snow to the basin. (don't be too concerned about staying on the trail, it is impossible to follow buried in snow) This keeps you above the cliffs and constrictions along the creek that would make upward travel difficult. Just make sure you don't get too high once you start to exit the trees. There is some definite slide potential under Vermilion's West Ridge.

Here's Dani on Hope Lake Road with Sheep Mtn in the distance

Start of the Hope Lake Trail...the skier tracks proved to be a tease as they ended 50yds in

Breaking above the trees

The view to our right...San Miguel and Sheep Mtn

The first view of our objective...Vermilion Peak

Image #6 (not yet uploaded)

The red line show our approximate route through the first cliff band and up the Southwest Face

Here's a closeup of the couloir we used to get through the cliff band..we decided to call it Mini-Ve

At the top of the Mini-Ve Couloir

Red = Up Yellow = Down

As we got closer to our selected route-red, another option presented itself-yellow. We thought yellow might cliff out so we stuck with plan A.

Straight & steep...forgot to measure, but would guess it averaged 45% and topped 50% in some spots

Finally on the ridge...from here you have to traverse left of 2 or 3 towers before getting to the summit block.

Traversing these sections definitely got our attention

When you get around the final tower you get this ridiculous view...Red = Up Yellow = Down

Here's Dani scrambling up the the ridge, this is the part of the red line you can't see in the last picture

The final section up the rock looked harder from a distance than it turned out to be

Celebrating my brother's 31st birthday...Happy Birthday Homie!

This heli was dropping skiers off all is our view from the summit looking down over the North side...yeah, it's steep

Had a little cairn fun on the elevation for Vermilion, 13,985'

Looking back down at the final of the Vermilion $ Couloir is on the left..pretty sure the other couloir we considered tops out right here

After carefully traversing over to the Vermilion-Fuller saddle, it was time to have a little fun

Dani with San Miguel and Sheep in the distance

Image #24 (not yet uploaded)

We decided to try the creek route on our was fun and beautiful, but I wouldn't want to come up this way

Making our way around on of the cliff sections...there must be so many waterfalls down here in the summer

One last look at Vermilion from Trout Lake

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 25 26 27

Comments or Questions
Summit Lounger

Sweet !!!!!!
04/06/2011 22:52
Nice work. Your route looks like a great snow climb, and lots of fun.


04/07/2011 01:50
Nice one you two!! I like Mini-Ve...looks like a nice line.
Where's the love for Pilot Knob though?!
Nice creativity with your cairn!

(but what are you doing glissading with points on?! )


Rock and roll...
04/07/2011 02:33
Nothing like a little centennial love, Mad Mike. Thanks for posting photos of an area many of us have only seen dry. I'm sitting here right now trying to figure out why I live in the front range when all roads point to the San Juans. Some day... Some day...


Takes me back
04/07/2011 02:58
Vermilion remains one of my favorite Centennials. Thanks for sharing your day.
I'm sitting here right now trying to figure out how long before I move back to the San Juans...
Pap, how about a US Grant-Pilot Knob-Golden Horn weekend later on in 2011?


really nice report
04/07/2011 12:26
that looked like a fun trek


04/07/2011 13:49
Great TR mike. One of my favorite Centennials as well. Lovely area to say the least. Matt let me know if you do decide to head down to do US Grant, etc. Definitely be up for that!


04/07/2011 14:30
...after another read (because this one is worth it!), I can see Pilot Knob in the background of your Homie tribute. ;)
I like the B&W on your hike out too. Again, nice write-up & photo's Mike!
Hopefully we hook up for something before I'm off to Vail for the summer.


Agree with Matt
04/07/2011 14:58
Vermillion is one of my favorites as well. Great to see it blanketed in white. Don't see these views too often this time of year.


Looks like
04/08/2011 22:15

Dad Mike

No Knob...Crampon Glissade
08/12/2014 23:13
The snow was really starting to soften up when we got to the summit. Didn't want to risk waiting another hour before descending.

And the start of the glissade was pretty steep and we felt more comfortable with them on...a little extra stopping power you know?

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