The starting point is South Mineral Campground and trailhead. This parking area is fairly spacious and will accomodate over 40-50 vehicles. However, due to the extreme popularity of Ice Lakes Basin, this area will fill up quickly with overflow vehicles parking down South Mineral Road. Of course, weekends will always be busier. Play it safe and arrive for Grant early to avoid this hassle. Plus, you'll want to start early anyway as Grant and this ridge offer no easy escape in case of storms.
Start by hiking up Ice Lakes Trail for about 2.2 miles to an unmarked junction. From this junction, you have two choices. If you stay left and take this approach, the trail will take you to Ice Lakes proper. This is about an additional 1.4 miles. Once at the lake (actually, a short ways before), take a right hand side trail across the tundra and over/through the outlet stream. This will connect with the Island Lake Trail. Continue on this for .6 mile and about 200' passing the remnents of the Golden Gate Mine (12,188') to Island Lake.
Option two takes the right hand fork and quickly gains elevation towards Island Lake. Some people refer to this alternative trail as the Swamp Pass Trail as it avoids the Ice Lakes all together. Expect about a 1.1 mile ascent. This trail passes by the rements of an old unnamed silver mine. Either way, both trails are beautiful in summer and fall as wildflowers are everywhere.
At Island Lake, follow the good trail around the lake on the south side and aim for a large boulder with a cairn built on top. It's located on the far western side of the lake near the dry (typically) inlet. Start your ascent of Ulysses S. Grant from here.
Leave the west side of Island Lake (12,400') heading due west up the scree & tundra slopes to the obvious saddle of V4 and Grant. This slope ascends about 810' to the saddle at around 13,210'. Near the top, the scree gives way to hardpan dirt, so be careful.
From the saddle, the summit of Grant is only a paltry 557' above you and roughly .3 mile. This is a fairly short ridge but absolutely the easiest way in getting to the apogee. In terms of breaking it down, expect loose, small blocks of rock & large scree lower down. There's a 4th class (short) climb up a cliff to a ledge which kind of acts as the half-way point followed by a fun, little scramble on gray, flaky rock to a summit ridge. Like I said, its a short ridge but very enjoyable.
This ridge and peak are a scramble, NOT a climb. It is not necessary to bring a rope for this peak. Any proficient scrambler can navigate up and down the cliff just fine. 90% of this ridge is nothing more than a class 2 walk up. So saying that, just have a sturdy pair of boots with you. Even trail-runners/approach shoes could make this ascent, albeit slightly sore feet. Standard mountain fare should be adequete.
Here are a few trip reports from various sites:
And here are a few external resources from various sites:
|Night in Ice Lakes Basin- Photo by Matt Payne|