OverviewAs a bi-centennial 13er (13,767', Rank 119) Ulysses S. Grant Peak is becoming a popular objective in the Ice Lakes Basin, itself already a top destination for hikers and backpackers in the state.
When I climbed the East Ridge I hadn't planned on climbing it and therefore hadn't searched for information on the route or even knew if it had actually been done. Not surprisingly, I've since seen it mentioned in TRs from as old as at least 2007.
As with many routes, there are many variations possible depending on whether you are "on route" or whether you want to increase the difficulty/fun factor by choosing your own adventure.
The climb can easily be done in a half day, but many people choose to backpack and bag the surrounding peaks (especially Pilot Knob and Vermillion Peak).
RT distance: ~7.2 miles
Elevation gain: ~3467'
The route would combine well with V2 and then descending the standard route to V4.
ApproachFrom the Clear Lake Road first switchback (~10,300'), hike west soon crossing the base of a waterfall over a decrepit bridge. (Be very careful here if there are below freezing temperatures.) Continue through the trees to Lower Ice Lake Basin at 11,500'. Cross the creek at the far side of the basin and follow the trail angling left by the waterfall, then switchbacking, and angling back right to near Upper Ice Lake at 12,257'.
Just before reaching the lake, look to the right at the base of the ridge and you'll see the Island Lake trail snaking away. As you approach Island Lake, an obvious trail across the lake angles from right to left across the talus slope up to the US Grant/V2 saddle at ~12,900'. Cross the small stream at the base of the lake and hike up the hill until you connect into this trail. The upper half of the trail is somewhat steep and very loose.
(A side trip here to V2 (13,309') is a short, easy Class 2 scramble.)
Route DescriptionFrom the vantage point of the saddle or V2, the East Ridge looks steep and intimidating, with vast stretches of exposure.
However, once actually on the route the scrambling goes quite easily and the immediate exposure is almost non-existent.
Note that the route finding may be slightly more difficult if descending from US Grant towards V2.
From the saddle, navigate the mini towers and attack the ridge directly for a short Class 3 section. Above that you have two options. Option 1: Climb parallel to the ridge on Class 2 but very loose scree. Or Option 2: Climb the ridge directly next to the couloir for more solid Class 3 scrambling, but with some exposure.
After about 200' you'll reach slightly more solid rock sprinkled with more scree. As you round the bend a small gully will appear in front of you. Climb until you can walk across the top of this smaller gully to a second larger gully and the saddle at the first "crux."
At the saddle, simply climb up to the left on solid Class 3 rock. Above that continue on Class 2/3 rock along the ridge.
Just before the third gully and just below the ridge look left and there will be a short, narrow (2') ramp leading to the saddle and the next cruxy climb. Follow the dirt ramp up a narrow chute back to the ridge.
From here climb 50' on solid Class 3 rock until it levels out and becomes Class 2 for another 50'. Shortly you'll come to a fourth gully/saddle and the last climb to the summit.