Where the South Mineral Creek road divides near the Bandora Mine, hike SW up the old fork that eventually leads to a pass where you can hike down to Hope Lake. This road has been closed to vehicles for some time and has become overgrown in places. The old roadbed climbs steadily and becomes increasingly faint. At a point about 3/4 mile up, the old road switchbacks. We were looking for this but somehow missed where the road continues up and switchbacks again to continue up valley. Because we missed this turn, we continued to contour up valley, but below the road, bushwhacking our way through forest, willows, tall corn lilies and grassy areas of wildflowers. Eventually, we broke out of the trees and continued up the basin toward an old mining cabin we could see in the distance. The flowers in this area were remarkable, especially a prolific variety of a pinkish/purple paintbrush.
From the cabin, walk southwest, across the vast meadow, climbing gently toward the steep slopes of the connecting V.9/Rolling ridge. Where the real steep work begins, we were about 1,000 feet below the saddle. We started out hiking over nice tundra with just a small amount of rock. As we hiked further, the slope steepened, the grass diminished and the rock increased. Things became noticeably looser. The last 200 or more vertical feet were a scramble over loose, sandy soil that presented us with one of those “one-step-forward, two-steps-back” kind of scenarios, except it was more like two steps forward and one back. This slope finally culminated at the base of a 100 ft. cliff, barring further progress to the saddle without breaking out a rope and helmet. We intersected this cliff at about its lowest point. When you are well below the cliff, watch for a route to the right that would make use of a vague ramp angling up that would grant access to the ridge without having to scale any cliffs.
The ramp was somewhat sloping, covered with loose sand and small rock and climbing up to the right from about the lowest point on the cliff band, just a little to the right of a very prominent couloir that broke the face of the cliff. There was really only one problem spot on it, where we had to gingerly step across a sloping face of rock for several feet with minimal holds. Once across this, it was just a scramble on very loose rock and sand up the remainder of the steep ramp and out onto the higher sloping face of the mountain. Once off the ramp, we even saw footprints and a few cairns indicating someone else had made use of this route before. In a few more minutes, we stood on the saddle of the ridge overlooking the huge basin at the head of Cascade Creek. Make your way northwest along the rocky but easy ridge to the summit of V.9. It did not even take a full 20 minutes from the saddle to complete the climb for us.
Enjoy a great view of Lake Hope, V.10, Grizzly, and Fuller & Vermillion Peaks to the north. There is also a good view of V.5, a lower 13er east of Clear Lake with a difficult, rocky little summit. REturn carefully as you came or it's possible to follow the SE ridge over to Rolling Mountain on a Class 3 route. The traverse to San Miguel to the west appeared to be rather gnarly. V.9 has a western summit that may appear as high but we measure it as being 13,230 ft. It's possible to make a "quick" trip over to it and back if you so desire, otherwise return as you came. Hopefully you clearly marked the head of the ramp that allows access up through the cliff!
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.