Peak(s):  North Apostle  -  13,860 feet
Ice Mountain  -  13,951 feet
Date Posted:  01/24/2018
Date Climbed:   01/13/2018
Author:  Dad Mike
 Snow, Ice and Superwoman's Kryptonite   

North Apostle and Ice Mountain
1st Attempt...Friday, December 22nd
2nd Attempt...Saturday, January 13th
Time...5am - 5:15pm
Distance...15.4 miles
Elevation Gain...4406 feet
Trailhead...South Winfield
Route...SW Face of North Apostle / NE Ridge of Ice

December 22nd
I am not a fan of winter camping. I try to avoid it whenever possible. When I was looking at my remaining winter cents, I knew I had to try to get to Winfield before too much snow fell on the road. It's not unusual for the road to be drivable for the first couple weeks of winter. So my plan was to hit the Ice and Emerald groups first before it would be necessary to add up to 16 miles of road hiking to those trips. It was dumping when I drove through BV and I almost decided to switch my objective to the French group. But it wasn't snowing as much to the north so I decided to give the road a go. The road was snow and ice covered, but not very deep and I didn't have any issues getting to the lower South Winfield TH...SCORE! Unfortunately, that was the last good thing that happened on this trip.

-couldn't sleep
-got a much later start than I wanted
-forgot my ipod...this is a killer for my solo trips
-5 below when I started out
-got pretty far off route in the trees
-very challenging snow conditions...more than expected in the trees and 2 - 3 feet on top of talus above treeline
-body didn't band, foot and back issues

This was one of the worst days I've had in the mountains. With no music or podcasts to keep my mind occupied, my demons were out in force. By the time I limped to my highpoint around 12,000', I was convinced that I was done with climbing these peaks in winter. This isn't fun anymore, I don't want to be here, why is this so important to me, my kids will be proud of me whether I finish this or not (more likely they won't care at all), I'm too old for this...blah, blah, blah. I turned around thinking this was it...and I was ok with it. My hike out just reinforced my decision. I usually enjoy the stress-free, effortless, winter descents. Not this time. I was in a lot of pain. And the only entertainment on my phone were these 2 pre-loaded albums...Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits and Hank Williams, America The Way I See It. Sorry to any of you that are fans, but those are two of the worst albums I've ever heard in my life. When I was a pledge, my fraternity brothers would punish us by locking us in the basement and playing Barbie Girl on repeat. I would rather listen to that than either of those albums again. Do people really listen to Hank Williams? Terrible. The Monday Night Football song will never be the same.

The Apostles after finally finding my way out of the trees

Looking back down from my high point

It wasn't warm

I got back to my jeep, threw my pack in the back seat and popped my down sleeping pad with my ice axe...feathers everywhere. Yup...I'm done. I even went so far to let my wife and my closest hiking friends know that I was done. To their credit, every one of them told me I needed to sleep on it and not get too down. I've had these feelings many times before and they are more intense since having kids, but this felt different. I was sad to be giving up these experiences, but happy to think about spending more time with my family. It was a pretty emotional ride home.

After all that drama, all it took is a week off of work with the kids, some good talks with Dani and some prodding from Abe, Ryan and Amy that helped kick my sorry ass back into gear. Here's the 4 of us on top of Vestal Peak after climbing Wham Ridge on December 28th.

That trip was amazing and reinforced for me that my day on Ice was just a bad day...not a life-changing experience. Thanks to Dani, Abe, Ryan, Amy and Darin for helping get my head straight.

January 13th
After a few more successful trips, I was ready to go back and attempt these 2 peaks. This time I brought reinforcements...Superwoman would be joining me.

The ride to Winfield was a little more difficult this time. I chained up for the last 2 miles just to make sure I didn't get stuck. We got a 5am start and with the help of a recent snowmobile track, made quick time to the upper TH. The crescent moon was awesome and the view of the Apostles at sunrise didn't disappoint.

My trench from 3 weeks ago was pretty much buried, but we were able to still follow it through the trees. Once we got to the creek, the trench was non-existent and the snow was deeeep. I broke through the ice a couple times and covered my boots and snowshoes with a fun layer of icy slush. It turns out Amy wasn't so lucky. I didn't see her for a little while so I stopped once I got out of the trees. When she caught up, she told me she fell in the creek at the same spots I did, but went all the way in over her boots and soaked her feet. She stopped to switch her socks, but they were instantly soaked by the inside of her boots. She was worried about frostbite and decided it would be best to turn around.

Superwoman's Kryptonite...frozen feet.

We talked for a little bit about what I would do. My feet were really cold, but they were dry and I knew I would be in the sun once I hit the ridge. Amy told me she was ok going back alone and wanted me to continue. Here's where we parted ways...bye friend.

I went up the right side of the cliffs and linked rock outcrops towards the saddle between North Apostle and Ice. I found the snow conditions to be pretty stable and thought it would be fun to go up Refrigerator Couloir. As I started that way, the snow got a lot deeper. I was tired of breaking trail and decided I didn't want to wallow all the way up that thing. Instead I headed towards the sunny SW face of N Apostle and talus hopped to the summit.


The Fridge

Summit of North Apostle

With the easy one out of the way, I turned my attention to Ice. I climbed up the couloir and down the NE ridge in May a few years and didn't remember it being too difficult. But vague memories of IMan's report about Steve's FKWA of Ice scared me. I was pretty sure they used ropes and I didn't have any gear. I wasn't sure what to expect.

The route from the saddle looks pretty intimidating.

I figured the cruxes of the route would be the times when you are forced off the ridge, having to traverse on snowy ledges. Because of that I tried to stay on or near the ridge as much as I could. In the end, I found the route to be a lot of fun and not too difficult. I could see how it would be harder with a little more snow, but you can really stay on the ridge almost the whole way if you don't mind a couple short 4th, low 5th class moves.

Looking back at the first tower...traversed on the left side

Looking up as the ridge steepens. If you stay ridge proper, there is a short, steep snow slope near the top. The other option is to traverse really low on the right (out of the picture) and then ascend a long rock rib back to the ridge

The second unavoidable traverse on the north side

climbed up this low 5th class chimney to avoid another traverse...crux?

Looking down the ridge and over to North Apostle from near the summit

I reached the summit at 1:30pm, built my B&B cairns and flew my Summits for Shylah flag.


I chose a slightly different route back down the ridge, avoiding the two slightly-technical rock steps. The hike back to Winfield was so much more enjoyable than it had been 3 weeks before. Thanks to Amy's return trip, out trench through the trees was in really good condition.

I got back the car at 5:15pm, exhausted, but so excited about what I had just done.


Thanks for letting me vent.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice work!
01/24/2018 11:10
Iâm glad you didnât retire on the 22nd the day after I finally got to meet you. Had no idea that day in Dec was so rough. Congrats on wrestling those demons back and getting these safely in Jan.

Congratulations and Thanks
01/24/2018 11:12
Thank you for posting this trip report. Congratulations on reaching both summits in calendar winter.

01/24/2018 11:29
"When I was a pledge, my fraternity brothers would punish us by locking us in the basement and playing Barbie Girl on repeat."
Remember that time you made fun of me for playing lacrosse? Yeah. This is worse.

Nice work. Way to go get some redemption and have a good time of it.

My Name is Bocephus
01/24/2018 12:16
Crank that to 10 and keep trucking!

Nice report, Mike.
It's nice to finally see a new winter report from you.

01/24/2018 17:26
Mad Mike, Dad Mike, mostly what you've been to a whole bunch of newer winter enthusiasts is RAD Mike. Awesome to watch your #frozencents so far this winter. Too bad about Amy, but better to have blazintoes than frozentoes.

Awesome Apostles
01/24/2018 18:57
Way to get back out there, Mike! Disillusionment can be a powerful force. I enjoyed this one immensely!

01/25/2018 08:23
Nice job getting back out there after a rough day! I always enjoy your reports, and was glad to see you post this one. Was wondering how the winter was going for you!

Dad Mike
01/25/2018 08:50
@brad...I was looking over a Huron all day hoping you guys were having a better time that song and try not to dance

@darin...I'm afraid listening to that song will bring back painful memories

last bit before the summit
01/26/2018 11:30
nice work dude, as per normal! Bummer bout Amy tho, she probably made up for it the next day by soloing Huron, a couple times.

Man, I got turned around 20' below the summit of Ice couple winters ago and haven't returned even in summer. Still haunts me to this day...

Stoked your stoke was revitalized with Wham, that was a fun outing and glad we all got to hang. Keep truckin dawg!

01/26/2018 21:04
That first night/morning was butt-ass cold... in the negative teens. I started my Jeep twice that night to get heat going.
Huron was a bit of struggle for me that day, but once we hit Brown and crossed the ridge I was good to go.
Glad you went back to get those peaks. Redemption is such a nice feeling.

Woof Woof!
01/30/2018 04:56
Can you hear me barking from the dog house? My cape privileges have been revoked UFN so no play til I fix this the car. Roobie is going to the graveyard. But which is worse? Frost bite vs. dead elk. I still feel bad.

The ice looked solid so when I stepped on it with my snowshoe, was surprised when my foot plunged through and then the other. I got the right foot out no problem but it also got damp. The left foot sunk further and further in, felt kinda like quick sand. Both can be death sentences. Once I shimmied out, Immediately took the gaiter, boot and sock off then switched socks but my boot was soaked. Then ran to catch up to you and could feel the burn then frost bite settle in. Once in the upper basin we could see that conditions were good for a solo flight so ...Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness...thanks Oscar Wilde and Mike so, I went back Monday after Operation White Snake and tackled both peaks following your tracks hoping to see B&B cairns. I wanted to see what you saw and your route was pretty wicked so since I've climbed all the peaks back there, seeing them in winter was amazing!

Just had a 14er buddy PM me with "Superwoman, eh?" and after reading this, I too laughed because I think Mike has secret super human powers. He's by far the fastest hiker, climber, mountain dude I've ever been around. Good luck keeping up with him.

Seeing you do what you do is not only inspiring to 3 year olds but even the big kids like me.

Woof woof...I wanna play...

Dad Mike
01/27/2018 11:09
The last 20' of class 3 ridge to the summit is beyond your skill level. It's not surprising you turned around.

Dad Mike
Damn Girl!!!
01/27/2018 12:19
Looks like that deer tried to jump in the passenger seat with you. I feel like I've said this to you a lot since I've known you...I'm glad you're ok.

Glad you're ok, BT, but...
01/29/2018 10:24
... I gotta ask, was the elk in season and did you have a tag? Hmm?

Dec 22nd
01/29/2018 11:49

I hit Belford on the 22nd from Missouri Gulch. It was a day I'd like to have back too. Nice job getting back on the horse. Looks like a fine rematch! well done.

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