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Ice Lakes Basin

Alpine Lakes Traverse
November 8, 2016
Private Guided Trekking
November 8, 2016

Colorado High Alpine Trekking

Cascading waterfalls, brilliant wildflower displays and turquoise lakes permeate the landscape of Ice Lakes Basin. Matching unparalleled scenery with relative easy access make this 3-day backpacking excursion a perfect trip for families, or those new to wilderness travel. If you are seeking the best of what the San Juan Mountains have to offer, do not let this trip slip off your list.

The lower Ice Lake Basin is clearly separated from the upper basin by a massive 400-ft granite wall. The upper and lower Ice Lake Basins differ greatly from one another and make for contrasting ecosystems. The wildflowers that grace the lower Ice Lake Basin are the tallest, and among the most densely packed we have ever seen in Colorado. The upper basin is comprised of small tarns (mountain lakes), smooth granite domes, miles of alpine tundra and wildflowers and of course four magnificent peaks – Fuller Peak, Vermillion Peak, Golden Horn and Pilot Knob.

Family Friendly

If you have younger children and are looking to give them a great introduction to multi-day backpacking in a wilderness setting then this is the trip you’ve been looking for!  Easy access to the trailhead and seamless logistics simplify the details and offers a less committing introduction to wilderness travel for families or those who’ve never backpacked previously.

2018 Dates

Monday – Wednesday

July 16 – 18
July 30 – August 1
August 6 – 8
August 13 – 15

Friday-Sunday

July 6 – 8
July 13 – 15
July 27 – 29
August 3 – 5
August 17 – 19
September 7 – 9

Costs

$799 per person

rexerNo Hidden Fees

Includes:
  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Transportation to the trailhead and back to our office in Ouray or Durango
  • Breakfasts & Dinners on the trip
  • Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)


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Ice Lakes Basin Trekking Itinerary

Day 0

We meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides’ office in the afternoon or early evening in order to go over equipment, food, and logistics issues for the following morning.

Day 1

In the morning starting from Durango or Ouray we’ll drive to the beginning of our hike from the South Mineral Creek Trailhead. Today’s backpack into Ice Lakes Basin and our base camp is not terribly long at under 4 miles, but is steep enough that we’ll want an early start.

Day 2

Rising early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, we’ll have two choices of day hikes. For the more adventurous we’ll make a summit attempt of 13,780-foot Golden Horn – a non-technical Class 2 walkup mountain peak. For those who desire a bit less challenge, we’ll traverse up to Island Lake Basin, a beautiful mountain lake situated under the shadow of Ulysses S. Grant Peak.

Day 3

A leisurely morning allows us to pack our camp and head back down to the South Mineral Creek Trailhead at a reasonable pace. We’ll be back to Durango or Ouray by mid-afternoon with plenty of time to catch a shower and enjoy a celebratory dinner! This is also an alternate summit day in case of poor weather.

 

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Ice Lakes Basin Trekking Equipment List

Duffel BagDescriptionGuide's Pick
1 - 2 Large, durable bags for oragnizing and transporting your gear during airline travel etc.
BackpackDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Osprey Atmos AG™ 50 features Osprey’s Anti-Gravity™ suspension system for quick drying ventilation and all-day comfort. This pack is well suited for weekend excursions or quick overnight forays when you are toting less than 40 pounds.
ThermosDescriptionGuide's Pick
Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.
Water BottlesDescriptionGuide's Pick
We recommend wide mouth Nalgene (or similar) water bottles for the majority of our programs. Two 1 liter bottles is the standard for days in the mountains.
Bottle InsulatorsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.
Stuff SacksDescriptionGuide's Pick
Stuff sacks are a great way to organize your gear in your pack and help to keep things tidy in a variety of ways. A great addition to any of our programs.
Personal FoodDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lunch begins when breakfast ends and ends when dinner begins. Bring what you like to eat and consider the length, relative difficulty, weight, and other factors when deciding what to bring in the mountains with you. A variety is always best. Don't be afraid of Mr. T.
SunglassesDescriptionGuide's Pick
A good pair of wrap around sunglasses are an essential item for all of our trips. When the sun shines brightly on fresh snow in the mountains your eyes will thank you for a quality pair of shades. Looking good is important too.
SunscreenDescriptionGuide's Pick
Essential for all of our programs. SPF 30 would be our minimum recommendation. Typically a 4 oz. bottle will suffice but consider trip length when deciding how much to pack.
Lip BalmDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.
HeadlampDescriptionGuide's Pick
A headlamp is recommended for all of our programs and is an essential piece of equipment you will use in a variety of circumstances. Most LED type headlamps will do but we recommend the Black Diamond Storm for its versatility.
First Aid KitDescriptionGuide's Pick
An excellent investment for all of our programs. Our guides always carry a comprehensive medical kit but it's nice to have your own as well.
Small KnifeDescriptionGuide's Pick
A small knife is an indispensable tool to carry with you in the mountains. We like the Spatha knife for its size, weight, versatility, and ability to clip onto a harness.
Digital CameraDescriptionGuide's Pick
While phones these days offer excellent quality, nothing beats the reliability of a dedicated digital camera. You'll be glad you brought it and your guide will make sure to help capture the moment of you being awesome.
SocksDescriptionGuide's Pick
Synthetic socks area must for all outdoor activities. Select a pair that fits well, is warm, and is comfortable. Bring 2-3 pairs depending on the type of trip.
Base Layer TopDescriptionGuide's Pick
Choosing the right base layer really makes a difference in comfort, moisture-wicking, and the balance between cool and warm at the right time and in the right places. The Outdoor Research Echo Hoody also offers good sun protection.
Base Layer BottomDescriptionGuide's Pick
Similar to the base layer top. These are wear all the time in all conditions base layer pants. A must have for alpine and ice climbing trips and objectives.
Mid Weight TopDescriptionGuide's Pick
One of the best mid-weight layers we've ever worn. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody combines all the best features of a mid-layer into one supremely well-fitting piece of technical hybrid inner/outwear. The layer does so many things so well it's one of the few pieces we wear throughout the year.
Soft Shell PantsDescriptionGuide's Pick
These pants dig climbs that take them a few hundred feet off the deck. The tough but stretchy, breathable but wind-resistant Ferrosi fabric stays cool during long approach hikes, moves with you while talus wrangling and high-stepping on the sharp end, and blocks wind during long hours of belaying up high.
Insulated ParkaDescriptionGuide's Pick
Pack it for those days where you need just a touch of down insulation, or on those cold days on the chairlift when an extra layer might be crucial. Our new hooded version of the Filament has the same design as the popular hood-less version and a DWR-treated shell of ultralight 10D Pertex® Quantum GL keeps moisture away from premium 800-fill down inside.
Insulated VestDescriptionGuide's Pick
Same spirit, same guts, and same award-winning hybrid-mapped design of the Cathode Hooded Jacket, minus the sleeves and hood. An insulated vest is an optional item on our programs but we do think vests offer excellent flexible layering options in a variety of circumstances, weather conditions, and trip types.
Shell JacketDescriptionGuide's Pick
Our Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal “Gear of the Year” award-winning storm shell is engineered for fast-and-light alpine climbs and all-day backcountry tours. You need at minimum either a soft shell jacket or hard shell jacket for local Ouray based winter courses and programs.
Built for flash-storm protection, the 100% waterproof, super-breathable Helium II weighs an incredibly light 6.4 ounces. An ultra-compressible piece you’ll never leave behind, it’s so light and packs down so small you’ll forget it’s clipped to your harness until you throw it on to ward off a sudden mid-route downpour.
Shell PantsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Waterproof, breathable and lightweight, the GORE-TEX® Foray Pants provide dependable rain protection and shrug off the wear-and-tear of the trail and cityscape alike.
Warm HatDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Booster’s reversible design lets you choose. The soft yarn blend will provide a cozy sanctuary throughout winter’s chill.
Baseball CapDescriptionGuide's Pick
A required item on the majority of our programs, a baseball cap helps to keep harmful sun off your face. The Radar Pocket cap is packable, durable, and looks great!
Lightweight GlovesDescriptionGuide's Pick
Updated for touchscreen compatibility, the StormTracker Sensor Gloves are equally at home alpine climbing, ski touring or ice climbing. Low-profile GORE® WINDSTOPPER®. Soft Shell fabric deflects biting gusts, and a tricot lining retains valuable heat.
Balaclava or BuffDescriptionGuide's Pick
Simple, effective and infinitely adaptable, Original BUFF® headwear is the product that started the multifunctional headwear revolution. At its core is a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and able to control odor. We recommend the BUFF for all of our programs as a multi-purpose insulation piece and trendy headgear!
Climbing BootsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Waterproof Gore-Tex® abrasion resistant polyester uppers with a patented TPU Thermo Tech Application™. Extremely durable and lightweight 3D Flex™ insert for excellent ankle mobility Vibram®. Mulaz outsole with a technical edging platform and aggressive rear lugs for superior traction
Adjustable Trekking PolesDescriptionGuide's Pick
This is an optional item on our programs. However, a good pair of trekking poles is a worthy piece of gear to have with you for long approaches or treks through the mountains. There are many added benefits to trekking poles. The new BD Distance series poles are light, collapsible, and adjustable.
Sleeping PadDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season mattress is lightweight, durable, extremely warm, and the ultimate solution to year-round backcountry comfort. Stable construction and 2.5-inch thickness offer greater comfort for a full night of sleep, so you won't feel the uneven, rough terrain beneath you.
Sleeping BagDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30 Degree Sleeping Bag large cut sleeping bag for bigger folks or those seeking plenty of space. Have a fear of being closed in or perhaps a wide set of shoulders? This 850+ down fill sleeping bag has a 64" shoulder girth and 39" foot girth. Lay back and enjoy being wrapped in soft, fluffy down on nights down to 30°F.

Training & Follow Up Climbs

As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.

Before Your Trip

In order to successfully carry a 35 lb. pack up to 7 miles a day, endurance is key. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.

For trekking trips in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness you should be ready for:

  • Hiking up to 6-7 miles per day with up to a 30 lb pack at altitudes between 8,000′ – 11,000′
  • Wilderness travel

 

Follow Up Climbs

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Durango, Colorado: Getting Here

Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.  The SJMG Durango office is located at 1111 Camino Del Rio, Durango, CO 81301.

plane-icon The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.

 

suv-icon Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango.

  • Ouray, CO: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Albuquerque, NM: 3.5 hours
  • Denver, CO: 6 hours

 

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Durango has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip!  Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.

Program Policies

Registration & Cancellation

Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.

Inclusions

  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Transportation to the trailhead and back to our office in Ouray or Durango
  • Breakfasts and dinners on the trip
  • Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)

Exclusions

  • Transportation to Durango, CO
  • Hotel costs before, during, or after the program
  • Guide gratuity
  • Lunch food or snacks
  • Personal hiking/climbing clothing
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
  • Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides

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Book This Trip!

We Offer Online Registration

  1. Click on Book This Trip
  2. Select your Program dates
  3. Enter your Info and Payment

 

Or, call 800.642.5389 to register