On our way home from climbing Dallas Peak last August, we caught this magnificant view from Lizard Head Pass of the sun setting on Vermillion Peak and its neighbors, Golden Horn and Pilot Knob (R to L).
moon rise from Lizard Head Pass
Taking advantage of the holiday weekend, we decided to backpack into Ice Lakes Basin and camp for a few days.
Along the approach through lower Ice Lakes Basin, we were greeted with a sunrise view of the peaks, this time from the opposite side of the mountains. (Fuller, Vermillion, and Golden Horn, L to R)
unique, diagonal waterfall
our home for a couple days
upper Ice Lake with V4 above it
looking back down on lower Ice Lakes Basin
After dropping our overnight gear and setting up our tent near upper Ice Lake, we headed toward Island Lake to climb V4 and Ulysses S. Grant Peak.
Sarah and Nina heading up V4
Tired from climbing the extremely steep, grassy slopes above Island Lake, Sarah and Nina pause for a break.
Fuller, Vermillion, Golden Horn, and Pilot Knob (L to R)
The basin is littered with deep, blue lakes.
posing on the summit of V4 with U.S. Grant in the background
From V4, we then traversed across the ridge to U.S. Grant. A short, steep scramble put us on a ledge which we traversed for a ways to easier ground.
Sarah posing on the ledge with Nina patiently waiting on us in the background
Andy on the summit of U.S. Grant
Coxcomb, Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and Uncompahgre (L to R)
Island Lake has a really creative name.
posing in front of the next day's objectives: Fuller, Vermillion, Golden Horn, and Pilot Knob (L to R)
Sarah checking out the views
Sarah making her way back across the ledge traverse with the Grenadiers on the horizon
wildflowers growing on the scree slopes below U.S. Grant
By the time we got back to camp, Matt and Alicia had shown up and pitched their tent next to us.
The next morning, we started just before sunrise, hoping to get four peaks in one day.
sunrise over Half Peak (center)
Sarah and Nina below a glowing Pilot Knob
alpenglow on Pilot Knob
ascending the steep, loose rock to the base of Pilot Knob
trying to use the scenery to distract ourselves from the annoyingly loose rock (Golden Horn and Vermillion, L to R)
When possible, we opted for more solid class 3 rock instead of the loose rubble.
Once at the base of the summit headwall, we traversed around to the back side of the ridge and then ascended this steep gully. Here, Sarah makes careful moves below towering cliffs.
traversing on solid ledges toward the summit
Sarah enjoying the exposed scrambling on super solid rock on the summit ridge
This large formation stood between us and the summit.
Sarah posing in front of the strangely shaped gendarme
summit photo with the Wilson Group (and Lizard Head Pass) behind us
gnarly ridge to V4 and U.S. Grant
Sneffels, Teakettle, Coffeepot, and Potosi (L to R)
Sarah descending from the summit while Nina patiently awaits our return
We then traversed behind Pilot Knob to the connecting ridge with Golden Horn. The rock along the traverse was really loose and unstable, so we were relieved once we reached this ridge.
We quickly made our way across the ridge toward Golden Horn. After traversing under the summit pyramid, we reached the ridge between Golden Horn and Vermillion. A quick scramble up fun ledges put us on the summit of Golden Horn, where Matt and Alicia were waiting on us.
Sarah posing in front of Sneffels
The four of us then headed across this long ridge toward Vermillion. The NE Ridge route ascends directly on the ridge to the obvious ledge just below the summit. We then traversed the ledge beneath the summit and gained the large saddle via the Vermillion Couloir. From there, it was a short scramble up the final ridge to the summit.
Though the NE Ridge route is rated class 3, we had a hard time keeping the difficulty below class 4. This made things a bit complicated because we had brought Nina with us. Thanks to a lot of help from Matt, though, we were able to get her up the difficult sections.
Sarah enjoying the summit of Vermillion with Pilot Knob behind her
Sarah and Matt descending via the standard route
Sarah and Alicia doing a long traverse below steep cliffs on Vermillion's summit ridge
Scrambling was the activity of the day.
Though it had briefly snowed on us while we descended Vermillion, the skies quickly cleared, so we headed up Fuller for our fourth and final summit of the day.
Sarah and I posing on the summit with Pilot Knob and Golden Horn in the background
Pilot Knob and Golden Horn (L to R)
Sarah, Alicia, and Matt enjoying a snack on the summit of Fuller
The incredible weather allowed us to lounge on the summit for close to an hour.
the Wilson Group in the shade and Vermillion in the sun
After a long day of scrambling, Sarah eagerly descends back to camp.
V4 and U.S. Grant (L to R) towering above green and blue lakes
Our tent is on the grassy bench to the right of the blue lake.
Once back at camp, we spent the afternoon napping beside the creek and basking in the warm sun.
Nina getting some shut eye
Matt and Alicia joining in, too
view from our backcountry balcony
Sarah taking our new Jetboil Sol on its maiden voyage
room with a view
Before hiking out the next morning, we got up to take some photos of the sunrise. Here, the sun is blocked by the long, flat ridge of Half Peak.
The morning alpenglow was spectacular.
Sarah and Nina keeping warm while I play with the camera
waterfall below Fuller Lake
dark skies behind a burning Pilot Knob
Even this late in the season, there were still plenty of wildflowers on the grassy slopes of the basin.
more waterfall action
Sarah, Alicia, and Matt taking in one last view of Golden Horn as we head back down to the trailhead.
Golden Horn stands watch
neck breaking views along the trail
Sarah making her way down lower Ice Lakes basin
steep, loud cascade on Clear Creek
We were really fortunate to spend so much time in such a special place. Ice Lakes basin instantly became one of our favorites. Sharing the weekend with friends doing some really fun scrambling was a great way to spend the holiday weekend.