Victory is a short (~700ft.) but extremely fun moderate/steep snow climb. This approach yields you about 2,500ft-v-gain and 5.6 miles.
To gain entrance to Victory Couloir, the only logical starting point/trailhead is American Basin trailhead at 11,300ft. An additional “upper trailhead” is also available to 4x4 vehicles and is roughly ~260ft. higher. The west face of Handies Peak when standing at this trailhead lies directly east (to the left). The western ridge of American Peak lies directly ahead and the true summit is still somewhat shy from this vantage about coming out. Point 13,535 and Hanson Peak lie towards the west towering above the valley.
Leave the trailhead (37º 55’ 09”N, -107º 30’58” W) and walk directly south heading up into the American Basin. There is also an ATV trail that meanders up this drainage (#3314) until it reaches Sloan Lake. Stay to the left (east) of the creek and progress up towards a very prominent embankment. Once this easy embankment is crested, a shallow ravine will immediately present itself. To avoid dropping down in elevation, stay on the left and traverse around keeping your elevation constant. American Peak’s true summit and its’ false summit (13,744ft.) are now quite apparent. Victory Couloir also is visible from this vantage. Angle your route up towards a cut in the small but gentle ridge. Pass through this break and Sloan Lake (12,900ft) now makes its entrance, situated a bit off to the left. Cross Sloan Lake (37º 54’ 14” N, -107º 30’ 58” W) and head directly up the southern slope. This slope will plateau out somewhat as you reach the run-out for Victory Couloir. This area (13,155ft.) is wide and open and Victory Couloir stares down at you.
Strap up the crampons and proceed up into the gentle but consistently steepening couloir. About ¼ of the way up, you will encounter the first of two rock outcroppings. The pitch here is somewhere in the neighborhood of ~34º. You can either keep to the left or veer to the right. However, keep in mind that the cornice shown in the pictures usually forms on the right side and this rock outcropping will provide some degree of protection in the event of a break. This is also where the couloir starts to steepen. Around halfway up the couloir (37º 54’ 00”N, -107º 30’ 38”W), basically in between the two rock pillars, the pitch takes a jump to somewhere around 40º. This is also where I’d recommend staying to the left as you approach the second rock pillar. The cornice that forms at the top of the right chute looms very large at this point. For the next ~200ft, the pitch stays somewhat constant decreasing ever so slightly until the couloir begins to open up and becomes quite broad towards the saddle. The saddle doesn’t sneak up on you but remains “in view” for most of the upper portion. The saddle is 13,700ft. (37º 53’ 56”, -107º 30’ 38”). The finisher is a quick 0.1-mile climb west up the summit ridge. The summit ridge is often corniced or peaked itself, so don’t be surprised if you have to stay just south (left) of the ridge crest until you “top out” at 13,806ft.