Ice Northeast Ridge + North Apostle

Difficulty:  Class 3 
Upper Elevation: 13,951 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 10,600 feet
Elevation Gain:3,500 feet
Round-trip Length: 9 - 9.5 miles
Trailhead: Clear Crk./S.Winfield
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Route Added: 07/28/2012
Last Updated: 07/28/2012
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From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road. From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road. On the 390 road (dirt), drive 11.8 miles to Winfield. Turn left and measure from here. Drive 0.1 mile to reach the lower, 2WD trailhead on the left. After 0.4 mile, the road gets rugged and narrow (4WD required). After 0.7 mile, stay right at a junction. After 1.7 miles, the Banker Mine road is to the left - stay straight on the main road and continue to the end, at 2.1 miles. The trail starts past the parking area.


Pass the trailhead kiosk (Photo #1) and walk south on the trail which leads to Apostle Basin and Lake Anne. After a mile The Three Apostles (North Apostle, Ice Mountain and West Apostle) come into view to the south - Photo #2. After 1.5 miles, reach a trail junction and stay left (Photo #3). Continue 0.1 mile into the trees to reach an unmarked junction (Photo #4) and turn right to continue towards Apostle Basin. Cross a couple of small streams and follow the trail all the way to the creek below The Three Apostles - Photo #5. Cross the creek, turn left to gain the other side and pass through willows to reach the forest on the east side of the creek. The trail peters out in this area. Now, instead of willow-bashing along the creek to reach the upper basin, hike southeast up into the forest (Photo #6 and Photo #7) and bushwack your way up through the forest to reach tree line near 11,900’, in a flat area above the east end of the creek - Photo #8.

From the flat area (Photo #8), your next goal is to reach the upper basin below Ice Mountain. Hike directly south up a rocky slope to reach 12,200’ and a view of the remaining route to the saddle between North Apostle and Ice Mountain - Photo #9. Continue across some talus, ascend another loose slope between 12,400’ and 12,700’ and work your way up through some rock outcroppings (Difficult Class 2) near 13,000’ - Photo #10. Photo #11 looks down on the rocky terrain. Continue east up the rock glacier (Photo #12) to reach the North Apostle-Ice saddle - Photo #13.

Taken from various angles, Photo #13, Photo #14 and Photo #15 show the remaining route up Ice’s northeast ridge. From the saddle, turn right and continue southwest up the ridge. After climbing about half way up the first bump, swing around the right side to reach a prominent notch on the ridge - Photo #16. Drop into the notch and scramble along the ridge to right side of a small chimney seen in Photo #17. From the top of the chimney, cross to the north (right) side of the ridge to see the remaining route - Photo #18. Drop slightly and follow ledges below the ridge crest until you intersect a brown gully on the left. Look for some green, jagged rocks to the right (center of Photo #19) and locate a crossover point to reach a rocky gully up to your right - Photo #20. This gully is the crux of the route but it’s probably the easiest/safest way to reach the summit from this area. Cross to the right side of the gully (Photo #21) and climb exposed Class 3 rock (Photo #22) to pop out on easier terrain just below the summit - Photo #23. Turn right, scramble to the summit ridge and walk over to the top - Photo #24. Descend via the same route.

If you’d like to summit North Apostle (Photo #25), return to the Ice-North Apostle saddle to reach the base of North Apostle’s southwest ridge - Photo #26. Rock-hop up the Class 2+ ridge (Photo #27) to reach the summit - Photo #28. Adding North Apostle makes this route approx. 9.5 miles RT.


Some route-finding is required on this route since you’ll need to bushwack your way to tree line once the trail ends. Above tree line, expect long stretches of rock-hopping on Difficult Class 2 terrain. Tedious.


Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15 Photo #16 Photo #17 Photo #18 Photo #19 Photo #20 Photo #21 Photo #22 Photo #23 Photo #24 Photo #25 Photo #26 Photo #27 Photo #28