Peak(s):  West Apostle  -  13,568 feet
Date Posted:  09/10/2012
Date Climbed:   09/08/2012
Author:  piper14er
 West Apostle - the definitive Lake Ann route  

9.8 miles
3300 feet
6 hours
ranked 210 (Tri-Centennial Peak)

I read a number of interesting reports on the Apostles including the very interesting report by ridge runner who with her partners "ran" the ridge from Huron Peak to West Apostle. The interesting part aside from the entire ridge being a time consuming Class 3-4 ridge with towers along the way was that once they reached West Apostle and they did not have any beta on the route down to Lake Ann. They opted to head back to the Ice West Apostle saddle and down the loose and steep Apostle couloir. Several reports mention a descent forbins_mtn back in June and peakmind in 2006 glissaded the gulley after their traverse.

I figured I would add some info on this Class 2-2+ route since it seems that all the reports on this site were for the traverses or the couloir and may be of some use for a roundtrip.

The 4wd trailhead and parking for this route is the same as the much used and busy start for Huron Peak. The 4wd trailhead is left past Winfield off of Chafee County Road 390. The last two miles past the 2wd parking area can be a bit narrow and rough.

While almost everyone else heads left for Huron go straight through the gate on a nice trail that meanders its way through forests and meadows. The trail to Lake Ann is right at this well signed fork in the trail, down the rock stairs and across the logs over the creek.

This is the first of the indications that fall is coming soon and before you get to the fork in the trail..

The first view of West Apostle and then a view of North Apostle, Ice Mountain and West Apostle again also prior to the fork can be seen along the trail.


Once on the trail you will continue the meandering as you slowly gain elevation. A small waterfalls along the trail.

Roughly 4 miles along the nice trail with its easy approach to Lake Ann the lake comes into your vision.

I cut across the meadow above the lake before I got to the shore. The better route I will show you is on my return down from the summit. My route went around the first knoll above the lake as it skirted the north edge where I ascended to the right and up the wide gully (this was past a narrow rocky cut in the slope where the creek drains down from the knoll). This picture is looking back down at the rocky way that I traversed to get up to the grassy slopes.

The grassy slopes take you up to about 12,400 and slightly higher than a small glacial lake. The way up to the saddle can now be seen. You want to stay to the right side where there is better rock, more solid footing as you make your way along the rock rib.

Rocks and small lake.

I was more to the middle of the gulley going up and returned down the right side. There is a lot of loose rock and scree in the middle. Stay right.

This is a cairn that I saw on the way up. You will see that cairn again on my descent in a later picture.

This is looking back down on the ascent towards the small glacial lake. It is steeper than it looks from the bottom.

This is looking up from below a short side hill traverse that is above and to the left of the rocks.

The short traverse angles across some loose dirt and rock on a steeper slope that looks directly down towards Lake Ann. Once across you gain the saddle where it is well cairned.

Lake Ann as seen from your vantage point on the saddle.

You will cross over a few yards to the south side of the saddle and then look east along the ridge for the next stretch of rocky Class 2.

A look at West Apostle (on the left) from higher up along the ridge and before the false summit is now in view.

This picture shows West Apostle from the false summit. The first hundred yards leaves the false summit and starts to narrow. I left my poles at this point.

The ridge crest continues to narrow as you get closer to the summit. There is exposure on the north side and it is broken and rocky to the south. I stayed on the ridge crest Class 3 most of the way but reached a point where it was necessary to drop off and down 40 feet to the south. There is a track that will take you along the south side to where you are directly below the summit. Climb back up the 40-50 feet and you are on a small summit.

The saddle looking back.

The summit (register) with North Apostle and Ice.

The traverse to Ice Mountain can be seen in the next two pictures. The first is looking down to the saddle and the second shows the southwest face of Ice.


The route back to the false summit.

I returned back the same way and a final look back at West Apostle and crow.


A narrow spot and the drop off the north side of the west ridge.

The descent after retrieving my poles went quickly. After returning to the saddle and holding to the north side of the gulley (right side on ascent) I walked past the cairn I saw on the ascent and hugged the more solid rock. Even with that you may be likely to set some rocks flying, which I did once. Luckily as the register will attest (less than 20 signed in for 2012 including myself from Matt Lemke's May 30 early season climb until this day) there are not too many people climbing this way. I think I heard a splash in the small lake (just kidding).

A much deserved cool soak after the summit.

Lake Ann one more time from my return route, which crossed the first knoll above the lake.

A final look back from north and above the lake of the north face of West Apostle. The return route was much the better way and will work going up also.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great description
09/10/2012 21:55
This definitely goes on my to-do list. Thanks for this well written report - it will be a great help.

Double Oh Seven

09/11/2012 00:54
Looks like a great day. I was hoping to find a way to do this without the whole ridge traverse. This one is now on the shortlist. Nice report.


04/02/2015 19:45
Thanks so much! I have Ice & North Apostle, so this would be a nice way to finish the group w/o doing the full traverse. Mucho gracias for the beta and gpx track.


glad this was helpful
09/11/2012 12:20
I had North and Ice too so this way makes sense for a nice day

Ridge runner

Nice description
09/11/2012 20:20
This definitely would have been helpful for us getting down West. I think by then we were pretty burnt out on route finding that we didn't care how we got down at that point. But you made the route look like a fun one to do, and I wouldn't mind getting back up there and trying it. Though I'll probably stay away from Ice and just continue to admire it from a distance.


Billie Jean ...
09/11/2012 22:49
And you make quite a nice team. We did this climb back in May of 1996 (not something that Billie Jean would have liked to partake of at the time if you know what I mean ). We were unable to access that westerly ridge you used due to avalanche conditions and major sloughing. Ended up taking the northwest ridge directly to the summit from that little tarn. Nice report. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


thanks for the comments
09/12/2012 15:01
Ridge runner that was a nice report on Huron to West Apostle and yes Ice is interesting.

Presto so far Billie Jean has been a good reliable partner and she is pretty happy about it too. All she asks for is a good soak now and again. I had a good picture of the ridge you did but did not post it. That would be direct alright.

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