Vermillion Peak – The Vermillion Dollar Couloir
Date: May 18, 2013
Team: Dav, Ted, Christy, Ian Fohrman, Chris Lane, Scott Rinkenberger, Anda Smalls
Route: Vermillion Dollar Couloir
Who wants to be a Vermillionaire? Well, today seven of us stood on the top of Vermillion Peak at 13,894 ft. feeling pretty lucky to have a chance to ski down the Vermillion Dollar Couloir and to tag the highest peak in San Juan County.
Our group grew today to include two ski partners from Aspen, Anda Smalls and Chris Lane, as well as Ian Forhman who couldn’t stay away, and Scott Rinkenberger, a photographer from Seattle who had joined us on the Northwest Volcano ski tour last year.
It was a quick drive from Silverton to the South Mineral Trailhead just off of Highway 550 and an easy hike with skis and boots on our backs up the Ice Lakes Basin Trail to just above tree line. We then skinned to the base of the east facing Vermillion Dollar Couloir which reaches a notch near the summit. With a little unsettled weather, the couloir didn’t really soften up and made for a spicy descent of this steep couloir. After navigating the narrow choke at the base of the couloir we skied over to Golden Horn and were able to make a few fun turns down into the basin.
Just to be up in Ice Lakes Basin, with the lakes still frozen and blue in color, was something we’ve wanted to experience for a long time. Vermillion, which means “flame-red,” is flanked by peaks such as Golden Horn, Pilot Knob, Fuller Peak, and US Grant. The names alone should paint a picture of how strikingly beautiful this basin is and to be out there skiing with friends made it another incredible day of skiing Colorado’s Centennial Peaks.
Even better was that it was a quick day and we were able to be back in Silverton around noon to enjoy the quirky culture of this historic mining town. Spending time in the San Juans this week has been one of the highlights of the project. Too bad the snow is going so fast!
Cue the ski pics–