LoJ: #228 (G & M: #227) / 13,540' V 4

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Ophir
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 49' 15.11", W 107° 48' 42.49" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A short, Class 2+,  secondary climb when paired with U S Grant, its higher neighbor. Alone, this would make a nice half to 2/3rds day hike and ascent that overlooks the spectacular and popular Ice Lake Basin. Abundant wildflowers.

Lower Ice Lake/Island Lake Access Route

Class 2+
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From South Mineral Creek TH: 12 mi / 3,700'
  • Trailhead
    • South Mineral Creek TH

      From the Town of Silverton and the US 550 intersection on the west side of town, drive north on US 550 and in a little over 2 miles turn west onto FR585. If coming from Ouray, drive south on US 550 over Red Mountain Pass and watch for the FR585 turnoff on your right before reaching Silverton. Drive west on this graded dirt road to the campground and trailhead parking appx. 4.7 miles in. The last mile of road gets a little rougher but should still be navigable by passenger cars.

      Alternate TH: This should only be used if accessing peaks in the Ice Lake basin area. Do not follow these directions if trying to access peaks at the head of the South Fork of Mineral Creek.

      Follow directions from Silverton or Ouray as before, but before arriving at the campground, watch for a 4WD drive road that heads diagonally up the hillside on your right, a little more than .7 mile before the campground and lower TH parking area or about 3.9 to 4.0 miles in from the highway. The road you're looking for is called the "Clear Lake Road," #815. It does not show on the older USGS quad, but does show on the Forest Service map. It turns off at these coordinates: N 37° 48' 19.49" W 107° 45' 46.26". Drive about a mile up this road to the first switchback and park here for summits in Ice Lake Basin if a space is available (very limited parking and no camping here). Parking coordinates are: N 37° 48' 37.64" W 107° 46' 35.63" Elev. 10,335 ft. Beginning your hike here will not save overall mileage but will save about 400 feet of gain. 4WD with better clearance recommended. From the car park, a trail heads NW and quickly comes to a crossing of Clear Creek. Getting across when water volume is high can be problematic & even a bit risky. If you succeed, continue following the trail on the other side. It will shortly be joined by the main trail coming up from the trailhead at the parking area by the South Mineral Campground.

      This same road also continues to Clear Lake and the basin below South Lookout Peak. If in a lower clearance 2WD vehicle, you will not want to drive up this road any. Park wherever you can find a place to do so near where the road #815 turns off from FR585. If you have a good clearance, 4WD vehicle, you can drive all the way up to Clear Lake.


      Camping

      All along FR585, there are numerous at-large, primitive sites. Upon turning off US 550 and driving less than a mile, there's a large open area on the left with a vault toilet. There are usually a large number of RV's here. There is also the South Mineral Creek Campground and before arriving at the campground, you will see a number of other camp spots. Expect competition on the weekends for sites. This is a very popular area. There is no "allowed" camping at the trail head parking area.

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Lower Ice Lake/Island Lake Access

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1995

    This route description is based on a start from the lower trail head, so mileage and elevation gain will reflect that starting point. If using the Clear Creek Road trail head, you can subtract 400 feet of elevation gain. Mileage will remain about the same. Both trails join together not long after crossing Clear Creek.

    From the lower trail head parking lot that can accommodate a large number of vehicles, begin hiking on the well-used and popular trail to Lower Ice Lake Basin. It's less than 2 miles into the lower basin area. The trail levels off some into the basin after a steep section of climbing on switchbacks. If backpacking into here, there are a number of good campsites in the lower basin. Not long after the trails levels in the lower basin, watch for a secondary trail turning off at these coordinates, on the right. N 37° 48' 45.33"  W 107° 47' 29.55". This trail leads up first north, then west, then north again across mostly tundra to Island Lake. Beyond the lake, it actually crosses a pass NNE of the lake. Hike to the west end of Island Lake on the south side. Head NW up the basin to the saddle between US Grant and V 4. There will be a bench-like area at about 12,700 ft. In earlier season, you may have snow on this part of the ascent so ice axe and/or micro-spikes would be handy. Without snow present, you can gain this bench on mostly tundra. Above the bench, there will be an area of rock rubble to contend with, another smaller patch of tundra and then a loose scramble on talus and rubble to the saddle at 13,220 ft.

    From the saddle, a direct assault on the ridge line appears difficult. To avoid those problems, try dropping down a little on the west side and then contouring below the ridge to a rock ridge followed by a loose rock-filled gully. Follow the gully up and it will top out about 100 feet below the summit on a minor north ridge of the peak. The last 100 feet along this ridge crest will be on steep, loose rubble. To gain the actual summit, you'll need to scramble over some large rocks. This peak has a split summit. The easternmost is the highest in our opinion, but just to make sure, you can scramble over tot he western summit by down-climbing a short rock face on the south side, stroll through the head of a couloir, clamber back up on more rock toward the west summit and then stroll along the ridge for the finish.

    Return by the same route and if there's snow, enjoy a speedy glissade back down to Island Lake. Note: The entire Ice Lake Basin area is not only popular for its fine scenery, but also its verdant display of wildflowers. The area is very popular and receives a large number of day hikers on weekends. You will usually see backpackers camped in both the lower and upper basins.   


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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