Peak(s):  North Apostle  -  13,860 feet
Ice Mtn  -  13,951 feet
"West Apostle"  -  13,568 feet
Date Posted:  07/10/2020
Date Climbed:   07/03/2020
Author:  nikonumber14
Additional Members:   glenmiz
 Three Apostles Traverse   

This is my first trip report on here, so I apologize if it is not in the best format. Explaining the pictures to me seems like the best way to convey what we experienced on Ice. Hope it can be helpful.


Time Destination Time to Dest. (hr) Dist. (mi) Approx. Elevation (ft)
430 Start - - -
730 N. Apostle summit 3 4.3 3277
830 Ice Summit 1 0.4 462
1130 Approx. W. Apostle summit (YIKES) 3 1.1 919
1320 Return to TH 1.9 4.9 -
Total 8:51 10.7 4658


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Photo 1: Looking at N. Apostles upper Route. Ridge has slightly less loose rock.

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Photo 2: Looking up Ice’s chimney. We stayed left until we found a decent spot to cross. Followed it all the way up. Upper section had rotten rock. Check holds like it’s your passion.

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Photo 3: Looking down chimney. YIKES!!!

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Photo 4: G&N happy but tired. Still plenty of fun to come!

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Photo 5: Ice’s SW gully is right beneath the true summit. Picture is looking up southwest gully right after choke point. It’s loose but not terrible. We went down along both sidewalls using them for stability.

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Photo 6: Could be the grassy ledge that Roach talks about. We exited the gully at a notch that had a cairn on it (sorry for not snapping a picture, but that will prove to be a common occurrence).

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Photo 7: This is one of the many notches we elected not to climb through. This smooth, green lichen covered rock had a fracture pattern that made for pretty high exposure. In this case we traversed below. This is the beginning of where we had issues determining the best route to the saddle between Ice and west.

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Photo 8: Another failed attempt to find an acceptable weakness in one of the many ribs along the face. As you will see on the .gpx track we climbed and descended many times trying to find the best way across the face.

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Photo 9: The terrain becomes pretty steep in spots. Part of it could be us losing the grassy ledge Roach talks about. Hopefully this report helps people in the future. I would advise not doing this route unless you are comfortable with exposure and are experienced in blazing your own route with no help from human based route markings (i.e. cairns, boot tracks, etc.)

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Photo 10: The face after making a lucky find of a notch that didn’t get cliffed out on the other side. My greatest regret from this trip was not getting a picture of this notch. We had a very difficult time finding the best way across one specific rib. We saw three possible weaknesses we could use to get across. The first was a ledge which was the lowest in elevation. About 50 feet above this, there was a notch that had two vertical and parallel cracks. About 50 feet above that notch there was a notch that had a triangular rock balanced on the point of prominence. We tried to find a way to get to the lower ledge, but kept having issues with poorly slanted slabs with few handholds or footholds. Next, we tried to go for the lower notch as it seemed to have the best ability to traverse over to it. Unfortunately, this led to more exposure than we were comfortable with. Worst of all the traverse over to the balanced rock notch looked even more exposed. Needless to say, this was where we were nervous about how we were going to get to the saddle to get out of the mountains before the midday weather rolled in. We thought about climbing up to the ridge, but we would most likely have to go back to the gully as there were cliffs above us. We talked about dropping into the basin, but there were cliffs below us. We didn’t talk about it at the time, but after the fact we both confessed we had thought about going back over ice and down the chimney with our tail between our legs. We decided to take a moment to get some food and think things through. After a well-deserved snack, we decided to once more look into the notches. I traversed a little higher, approximately 20 feet above the crack notch. G traversed low and became dissatisfied with the exposure incurred by climbing up and over the notch; I also turned left and the other side of that rib was vertical. I decided to climb up the rib to gain the balanced rock notch and found an acceptable route with less exposure than we anticipated. Once we gained this notch, we could see a somewhat reasonable route along the rest of the face.

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Photo 11: A look at Ice’s west face. The tan circle is more or less where I think the balanced rock notch is. The pink path is approximately the route we took to get down to the saddle.

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Photo 12: On top of W. Apostle and looking at the rest of the route. We descended the shoulder along the southwest ridge. The route up from the saddle is steep but not more than difficult class two on loose gravelly terrain. In Roach’s book he says scamper and that is a very good word for it.

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Photo 13: A look at the trail down the shoulder. At this point there were cairns and evidence that people had been here before.

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Photo 14: G&N happily down to easy hiking safe and sound. The trail up to lake Ann is beautiful, but I think the trail up to Apostle basin might have it beat. Definitely would like to go back up there when the sun is fully out.


Summary:

  1. Apostle and Ice were a blast!

The traverse from Ice to W. Apostle kind of kicked my butt. I have done some quite a bit of hiking, but the SW face of Ice definitely challenged my route-finding ability. Very thankful to have had G with me so that he could help me regain some confidence once the route seemed to disappear into nothingness. I wouldn’t say that the way we took is the best way through the Face’s labyrinth of ribs but it did work in the end. G & I definitely have an aversion to heights and excessive exposure so others may enjoy it more than we did; however, I think this is a very difficult route and should not be traveled on lightly. I have seen some trip reports of staying close to the ridge, and after doing the gully and face traverse I think that could be something to look into further. Be safe out there folks and don’t forget that life’s a journey!


My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 16 17 18 19 25 30 31 32 33


Comments or Questions
glenmiz
User
Happy to have Nick there to solve the puzzle
07/11/2020 13:22
As Nick said, we confessed to each other after reaching West Apostle's summit, that the thought of reclimbing Ice and descending the chimney had entered our minds while in our circling pattern. As many say "think good thoughts". I'll tell you it was difficult for a while.


TomPierce
Great job!
07/11/2020 18:01
Hey guys,

Many years ago I did part of your route (up that slot to climber's right on Ice, across the back side of Ice then down toward N Apostle) and recall thinking how convoluted and broken the terrain was. Great job sticking with this challenge and taking the path less traveled. Congrats!

-Tom


BuckeyeClimber
User
Great Report
05/07/2021 19:26
The view the Apostles present are some of the greatest is Colorado. I am happy you shared your story. Enjoy your hikes!

Ryan



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