Peak(s):  Vermilion Pk  -  13,894 feet
Fuller Pk  -  13,761 feet
"V 2"  -  13,309 feet
Date Posted:  07/26/2014
Date Climbed:   07/09/2014
Author:  spong0949
Additional Members:   Mountain Ninja
 Ice Lakes Basin - 1st Snow Climb   


July 8-10, 2014


Vermillion - 13,894 feet (failed)
Fuller - 13,761 feet
"V2" - 13,309 feet


Brad (Mountain Ninja)

I'd been looking forward to the Ice Lakes Basin trip since last year. After seeing so many beautiful pictures of the area, I was excited to go do some fun hikes and capture some of the breathtaking beauty. My friend Zach insisted that this was the most beautiful place all of Colorado. I'm inclined to agree with his statement after witnessing it myself.

After a wet night camping in a tent I bought from Wal-mart which leaked along the seems, (1st lesson: don't buy tents from Wal-mart) we started up to Ice Lake before dawn. I was able to catch one of the most stunning sunsets I've ever seen. The sun came out between some clouds and turned the peaks super red!

Time-lapse of sunrise on Ice Lake

After shooting a bit we headed up to the Vermillion/Fuller saddle. This would be my first real snow climb. Brad was a great teacher/leader who patiently showed me how to correctly use my snow gear. The snow climbing went slow and was quite steep, but never exceeded my comfort level. Actually, it was a blast! I am looking forward to doing more next season.

Once we reached the saddle, we stashed our gear thinking the rest of the route up Centennial 13er Vermillion Peak would be dry (2nd lesson: always bring your snow gear if there's a chance you'll need it). We hiked up the loose trail toward the summit. A few spots had some exposure, but nothing too bad until we came to a traverse with steep terrain just below the summit. At this spot, there was a key step or two that was covered with ice. I didn't feel comfortable crossing here. We searched for a way around, but couldn't find any that didn't involve loose dangerous exposed climbing. We decided we would have to descend back down to the saddle, grab our gear to give better traction, and come all the way back up again.

Back down at the saddle, we decided to quickly run up unranked Fuller Peak before trying for Vermillion again. This didn't take long and the views were incredible!

Summit pano from Fuller Peak

Back down at the saddle again. By this point clouds were building and I decided to bail back down the snow as not to get caught in a bad weather situation. Brad, being the determined karate master that he is, went back up solo to get Vermillion. Once down on the trail, I sat and waited for him to race the clouds. He summited and radioed me to let me know he was on his way back down. Once he returned, we started hearing thunder and moved briskly back down to Ice Lake, then down to our tent. Just before we reached our tent it started hailing. The hail turned to rain just in time for us to seek shelter. YES! tent leaks. The rain poured down for the next 3 hours making conditions in my tent quite miserable. My dog Molly was soaked and shivering and smelly. I shared my sleeping bag with her to warm her up. The rain finally stopped enough to get out of the tent and eat some food before dark.

Can you spot Brad? He's the dot on the snow toward the top.

The next morning, my boots were still soaked from the previous day. This area of the state is pretty wet I think. I'm sure that's why it's so green. We started hiking again pre-dawn toward Island Lake.

Island Lake

Once we reached the lake, Brad went up "V4" and I went up "V2". We each reached our summits at about the same time. The scene from "V2" has to be hands down the best summit view I've ever seen. You can spot about all the San Juan 14ers from this area.

Summit pano from "V2"

The hike down was uneventful and took about twice as long as it should because I had to stop like every couple minutes to take pictures of all the wildflowers and waterfalls. This is up there as one of my favorite places. Lord willing, I will return someday soon and bring the family.


If you want to see more Ice Lake Basin photography, check out the Ice Lakes gallery on my artist website:

Ice Lakes Basin Gallery

Thanks for reading!

"Soli Deo Gloria"

Comments or Questions
Kudos to Molly
07/26/2014 20:42
for hanging in there. And kudos to you for catching that rare morning sunset! Nice photos.

Ridge runner
07/26/2014 22:07
I did those same three peaks (Vermillion, Fuller, and V2) last year with my dog and couple other members. We had quite a bit of rain on our trip too and on our second day we no views at all while summiting V2. While very cool to be up in the clouds, I'd love to get back up there and see the same views you had. Nice job on capturing some amazing photos.

And having a wet dog in a tent sucks.

those photos
07/26/2014 23:19
are incredible!

looks like you found it!
07/27/2014 13:18
Yeah, that is one of the best spots I've ever been to in Colorado, too. I love your first pic and the pic from ”V2.” I haven't seen Island Lake yet, but can't wait to see it for myself.

07/27/2014 15:00
Great report, love the time-lapse sunrise.
Beautiful area, you've captured it well!

07/27/2014 15:12
Thank you all for the kind words! The beauty of this area makes an easy job for a photographer.

Nkan, Yep! That's the spot. Glad you guys found a way around. Maybe we should have spent more time looking for an alternate route.

Great TR!
07/28/2014 01:06
Enjoyed your trip report and photography, thanks!

07/28/2014 02:12
Still the most beautiful area in Colorado, IMO..

Great Photos
07/28/2014 02:29
Attempting these in September from the Hope Lake side and pretty stoked, what settings did you use on the sunrise shot?

Very impressive area ...
07/28/2014 18:02
... and equally impressive photography! Nicely done.

Edit: Withdrew question I had posed -- found answer elsewhere.


07/28/2014 19:31
...beautiful in CO is a tough claim but this place ranks up there and your lens definitely captured the serenity. Congrats to both of you!

Nice !
07/29/2014 17:31
That first photo just nudged me to jump a return trip to the Ice Lakes Basin up a few notches on my list.

Mountain Ninja
...and I thought MY pics were good!
08/03/2014 00:17
Great write-up, Aaron! And you are tough for putting up with that leaky tent. That was a ridiculously beautiful trip. Can't wait to do more snow climbin' with ya!

Scenic area!
04/02/2015 19:45
I think it is one of those rare cases when I like the approach better than the climb itself. We climbed Vermillion/Fuller as a day trip a few days after you guys. I think this might be the snow crossing you've alluded to
We actually did have traction with us but didn't bother - we just scrambled up the rocks to the right side of the gully. It was a move or two of Class 3 at most. The lake Hope side is completely dry, we saw multiple parties coming from that side in trailrunners.

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