North Apostle – 13, 860 feet
Ice Mountain – 13, 951 feet
West Apostle – 13, 568 feet
10 miles, 12 hours and 4,300 ft of vertical gain
June 30th, 2012
This trip report is mainly for me, since this was such an epic day in the mountains that I wanted to have this for future reference. But i also understand these peaks aren't climbed that often, so I'd love to help out future climbers with some route finding. I can’t explain how great these mountains are, and how beautiful the climb was that day.
We got to the TH Friday evening around 8pm to the sun setting and barely anyone at the TH. We set up camp and got ready for the next day. We awoke around 5am, and were hiking by 5:45am and were shortly greeted with this wonderful view of our day ahead:
N Apostle > Ice Mtn > W Apostle
The hike in is pretty straightforward. Two pieces of advice that aren’t completely obvious: 1) the trail for Huron takes a left at the TH, the trail for the Apostles/Ice Mtn goes straight behind the sign and 2) about a mile into the hike there is a sign for Left to Apostle Basin and Right to Lake Anne – go left to the Apostle Basin. When you reach the base of North Apostle there will be minor bushwhacking, but look for cairns that mark the path. Shortly, you’ll reach the wonderfully dreadful talus and scree field that goes up to the saddle between North Apostle and Ice Mountain.
The base of N Apostle and heading up talus to the saddle
The climb up North Apostle is a pain in the ass and for me was the hardest part of the day. I’d rather be shooting up Class 4 moves and be inches from my life on an exposed ridge than climb that crap. But hey – it’s all part of the experience. This is where you earn your lunch.
The whole ascent of N Apostle is scree/talus. Prepare yourself for shittiness
Next up was the traverse over to Ice Mountain, which is by far the most fun part of route. You are presented with a few Class 3 moves, a small ledge system and a super fun Class 4 chimney that leads directly to the summit. At the base of the chimney it appears you can take a left route or a right route. We all went right and each of us had a blast reaching the summit of Ice.
Heading up Ice Mtn into the gulley leading to the summit
small ledge system that leads to the Class 4 chimney
Class 4 chimney. Grab rock to climber's right(left on this photo)
Here’s where things got dicey. We were a team of 6 that day. From the summit of Ice there is a gulley that descends easily on the southwest side. Half of the team wanted to descend that gulley to a scree field and around to the saddle between Ice Mountain and West Apostle. The other three wanted to rock the ridge from Ice Mountain all the way over to West Apostle. Advice: do the ridge. The traverse going down the gulley was hell on the other team. They continually got cliffed out and were forced to traverse over about ten ribs, while the ridge team had an easy traverse over the saddle. The ridge looks nasty, but it’s a great traverse and highly worth the exposure. With a little route finding you’ll be able to find your way easily.
start of the ridge from Ice Mtn > W Apostle. Ridge is way easier than descending the scree field
Ice Mtn ridge to W Apostle. Taken from W Apostle
From the saddle between Ice Mountain and West Apostle in a quick, straightforward climb to the summit of West Apostle. From the summit we continued on the ridge southwest and descended slightly to the climber’s left to easy terrain. We hit the next saddle and descended to Lake Anne. The valley holding Lake Anne is absolutely gorgeous and plush. Hike to Lake Anne and meet the trail that loops you back to the TH.
Your reward: Lake Anne.....beautiful beautiful Lake Anne
Overall, it was an amazing day that stretched my limits and tested my route finding skills. It was great climbing with such skilled mountaineers and learning every second of the way. The most amazing aspect of this trip is that we were the only people on the mountains that day. That has never happened to me. The week before I had climbed the Kelso Ridge and had watched hundreds of people on their pilgrimage up Gray’s Peak. It was magical, almost spiritual, and made me feel so much connected to the mountains and the spirit that runs through them.
We are blessed to live in this state……there is nothing that has made me grow up so much in my life as the simple lesson of putting one foot in front of the other, checking for stability and eventually reaching the top.
Marty, Todd, Chip, Me(TJ) and Cindy - Mark is taking the photo