The Vermont Group is somewhat irregular in shape, and is confined by Hatteras, Syncline and Malachite Creeks on the west and northeast, by Vowell Creek on the east, and by Snowman Pass, Crystalline Creek and its middle fork on the south.
Syncline Mountain is the highest summit. Glaciers are few; the largest ones are located on the east side of the Purcell watershed between Syncline Mountain and Mount Syphax, and drain south to the north fork of Crystalline Creek. There are fine camping sites in the meadows south of Syncline Mountain, in the Valley of the Lakes above the north fork of Crystalline Creek, which is best reached over Cold Shiver Col, the westernmost of two cols on the long east ridge of Syncline Mountain, from the Vermont Creek mine (below). Another very good spot is Snowman Pass and Snowman Lake on the southern edge of the group. The rock of the group is metamorphic, and is often shattered.
Maps – 82K/14 Westfall River, 82K/15 Bugaboo Creek, 82N/2 McMurdo
To Vermont Creek, Bobbie Burns Creek
From the town of Parson, on Highway 95 southeast of Golden, turn southwest on the Spillimacheen River Forest Service Road, cross the Columbia River and several channels and go 17.2 km (10.7 miles). Near this junction, the road ceases to wind and turns northwest. (Avoid major side roads leading south).
Turn directly south (left; continuing northwest the road is called the North Fork road), cross Spillimacheen River and continue south (avoid major roads going east and south). The road turns northwest again on Bobbie Burns Creek (toward the Carbonate Group following Bobbie Burns Creek).
At 39 km (24.2 miles), take the left fork (right continues on Bobbie Burns Creek) and cross over Bobbie Burns Creek into the Vowell Creek canyon. The Vermont Creek road branches uphill (west; right) at 48 km (30 miles; high clearance, four wheel drive in upper section) to the Ruth Mine (sign; 5 km more).
Alternately, turn off from the road to the Bugaboos. About halfway from Brisco to Bugaboo Forks, about 22 km (14 miles), turn off north onto the road to Driftwood Creek and to Bobbie Burns Creek.
Although several summits are accessible from the mine, it is more agreeable to camp farther up the valley. The tongue of the glacier can be reached in 3 hours with packs by side-hilling along the shale slopes on the south side of Vermont Creek. To gain the Valley of the Lakes, ascend the glacier under the long east ridge of Syncline Mountain to two cols, and take the higher western one, Cold Shiver Col (2700m, 8850 feet). While the eastern col is lower and easier to reach from the north, it leads over into the wrong valley from which a difficult exit must then be made (next paragraph also).
It takes about 3 hours to pack from the tongue of the glacier over the col to the numerous campsites at the upper lake. It is also possible, upon reaching the glacier, to descend into the valley of the north fork of Crystalline Creek (wrong valley) and then contour west into the Valley of the Lakes. Although this alternative saves elevation, it is considerably longer and, because of the side-hilling, unpleasant with heavy loads.
From the Vermont Group to the Carbonate Group (summer)
The 2001 Bugaboos to Glacier traverse group went over “Syphax Pass” (glacier, approaching from the Valley of the Lakes; to Malachite Creek in a rainstorm, by multiple rappels from the pass, and immediately found themselves in a dangerous rockfall situation. A better solution must be found, hopefully without bushwhacking to Malachite Pass.
They then proceeded from Malachite Creek over the pass southwest of Carbonate Mountain (given in the Carbonate Group, Access).
There are alternate high passes for skiing, both east of Malachite and Syphax cols.
Regional Traverse to the Bugaboos (1953)
From the Vermont Creek mine, pack up the valley to the glacier, go over Cold Shiver Col, descend to the Valley of the Lakes and camp. Cross a steep pass at the south to Snowman Lake. Descend the east side of the lake stream to a forest camp in the middle fork of Crystalline Creek.
Ascend the middle fork of Crystalline Creek to Hume Pass (marked on map). Turn east and follow the divide up toward Deluge Mountain for 0.8 km, and descend to Hume Glacier (SW face of Deluge Mtn.). Ascend to Climax Col (marked on map), just south of Deluge Mountain, via steep snow, shale, and a final snow gully. From the col, descend very steep snow and talus, bearing right where possible, to camp in the highest trees above the south (main) fork of Crystalline Creek.
Contour along the east side of the watershed at treeline to the head of the south fork, to camp in trees beside the stream draining the west end of the Conrad Icefield. (Read the description in the Crystalline Group also. One may continue the traverse after visiting the Hatteras and Crystalline Groups.)
From camp, go up talus left of the headwall to the edge of the ice (2 hours), and over Thorington Pass. Cross the western segment of Conrad Icefield to the south end of a nunatak (3 hours more). Go across the eastern segment of the icefield, skirt the icefall to the left and climb to the highest part of the icefield (4.5 hours). Descend an icefall (crevasses) to a campsite among boulders (2440m; 8000 feet) in a cave under a huge pointed boulder (Shaft #7) on the east side of the glacier draining to Malloy Creek. The cave will accommodate five people.
From Shaft #7, cross the Malloy-East Creek pass to the south and descend into the upper basin of East Creek, avoiding the icefall via the east bank. Climb the glacier to the extreme northwest corner of Vowell Glacier, and cross it to Bugaboo-Snowpatch col (steep descent on east side). By the party of 1953.