| Freezer Burn: Good Climbing In The Apostles.
June 19, 2013
~12.3 Miles, ~5,100 Gain
TH: South Winfield. High Clearance Required (~2.5-3 Hours from Denver)
Max difficulty: Class 4 - Steep Snow Ice/AI2
Oh, short drives to peaks are nice. I met Matt in Windfield late on the 18th where we camped. We woke up early and drove up the 4WD road to the South Winfield trailhead and started hiking up the valley toward the Apostles at 5:00 AM.
Following a trail to Hamilton, travel went quick. I should have studied the topo more carefully as we left the trail in Hamilton when we should have stayed on the old mining trail that ascends towards the small basin northwest of Point 13,517. After a short bushwhack, we “re-discovered” the mining trail.
Apostles in the morning light.
Until the end, we followed the old mining trail until ~11,600. We departed the decent trail and bushwhacked directly towards 13,517. The bushwhacking wasn't too bad as we enjoyed our first views of Point 13,517 where we headed for a rocky gully just north of the summit.
North Apostle on our way to Point 13,517.
Talus gully up the north side of Point 13,517.
From a distance, the rock gully looks difficult but as we hiked closer, there was nothing to be concerned with. The lower portion of the rock gully wasn't too loose but progressively higher, the rock became more unstable. At the top of the gully, there was a short easy scramble to the summit where we arrived at 8:00 AM.
Thanks to Darin Baker pointing out the possibility of a great snow climb on the northeast face of North Apostle. From the summit of Point 13,517, we studied possible routes up the couloir. The couloir wasn't a continuous line to the summit so finishing the climb could be problematic. We decided to hike to the base and make a final decision before committing up the couloir.
North Apostle from the summit of Point 13,517.
Freezer Burn couloir on North Apostle. (Photo by Matt)
Descending off of the west ridge of Point 13,517 involved some minor class 3 scrambling that became harder as we descended further down the ridge. In order to save time for climbing the unknown couloir, we bailed south off the ridge and headed directly for the couloir on the northeast face of North Apostle. The climbing on the ridge wasn't all that aesthetic and the rock was questionable.
The west ridge of Point 13,517.
Looking up the couloir from the base, we decided to give it a try. Since there were too many unknowns higher up the couloir, we decided to bring out the rope. The lower portion of the snow climb was on 35-40 degree snow. A small rock step with some ice near the upper 3rd of the snow climb offered a small challenge but was easily overcome.
The bottom of Freezer Burn on North Apostle.
Matt starting up the couloir.
Nearing the top, we were left with two choices. A direct finish requiring 100-150 feet of rock climbing on questionable rock or a steep narrow snow/ice band leading to the ridge. Due to the quality of the rock, I suggested the snow/ice band. Up the steep snow we went. With our steep icy finish, the climb wasn't over once we hit the ridge. Up a small 4th class section to a notch, and then up another solid rock class 4 headwall, led us to the easy summit slopes where we arrived on North Apostle at noon.
Matt in the couloir.
˝ way up the couloir. (Photo by Matt)
Looking down the couloir.
Rocky section near the top of the snow section.
Looking down the couloir after the rock/ice step.
Starting up the left finish. (Photo by Matt)
Looking down the steep finish.
Looking up the thin couloir finish.
Climbing up. (Photo by Matt)
Near the top.
Me topping out. (Photo by Matt)
Me topping out. (Photo by Matt)
Matt topping out.
Class 4 scrambling through the notch.
Class 4 scrambling to the summit from the top of couloir.
Looking at the finish from east ridge on North Apostle.
Ice Mountain from North Apostle.
Looking down Freezer Burn from near the summit of North Apostle.
After our break on the summit, we descended North Apostles southwest class 2 slopes to the North Apostle-Ice saddle. We continued up Ice's northeast ridge climbing through a short class 3 section. The rock quality was surprisingly good through the short 150 foot class 3 section. We arrived on the summit of Ice Mountain at 1:05 PM.
Matt on the class 3 section on Ice Mountain.
I knew the route finding down Ice's southwest face/west ridge was going to be problematic. Staying on the ridge crest would require hard scrambling on questionable rock. From the summit we went to the top of the Refrigerator couloir and then descended the obvious gully down Ice's southwest face. Plenty of loose rock kept things interesting. We descended down the gully until we almost reached the bottom where a cliff band blocks easy access to the valley below. From the top of the cliff band, we veered west down some class 3 rock steps to easier terrain below the Ice-West Apostle saddle.
The complex southwest slopes of Ice Mountain
Looking at West Apostle from below the West Apostle-Ice saddle.
Climbing back up the the Ice-West Apostle saddle was on grassy slopes. We ditched our packs at the saddle and then continued up West Apostles talus class 2 ridge. Arriving on the summit of West Apostle at 3:10 PM, we took a short break before returning back to the West-Apostle-Ice saddle. The views from the summit of West Apostle were outstanding.
Glissading off the West Apostle-Ice saddle.
Good snow allowed us to glissade north from the West-Apostle Saddle back towards our car. A short willow bushwhack and we were back on trail to our cars where we arrived at 5:45 PM. What a fine day of mountaineering in the Sawatch.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):