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LoJ: #79 (G & M: #78) / 13,860' North Apostle

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Winfield
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 55' 11.43", W 106° 26' 03.95" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

 North Apostle is a fairly easy-to-reach top 100 summit that can be held to a Class 2 hike. A vehicle with good ground clearance can save a few miles of additional walking, but North Apostle may still be completed in a day with a start from Winfield. The upper portion of the peak becomes quite rubbly but the majority of the hike is on either trail or tundra terrain. North Apostle is typically combined with a climb of Ice Mountain which is rated Class 3. These two summits use the same approach as that for the west side of Huron. 

North Apostle SW Ridge Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Clear Creek/Winfield/Apostles: 8 mi / 3,320'
  • Trailhead
    • Clear Creek/Winfield/Apostles Trailhead

      From Leadville, drive south a little over 19 miles on HWY 24 to the turnoff for Clear Creek Reservoir (CR390) and head west. The turn is less than 2 miles south of "Granite." From Buena Vista, drive north just under 15 miles to the same turnoff. Drive west on graded dirt road 11.7 miles to Winfield. As the road approaches Winfield, it will become a little more narrow and likely to have some potholes. Because of heavy use, this road is often washboarded badly. At Winfield, turn south and cross the creek and continue south, then SW on CR390.2B. About 100 yards after crossing the creek, passenger cars may want to park because the road greatly deteriorates beyond there. Higher clearance vehicles may continue. 4WD is not really required for the remainder of the drive to the end of the road. At a little over .7 mile after crossing Clear Creek, just south of Winfield is the turnoff for the blocked road to Lulu Gulch, UN 13,462 A and Browns Peak.  From Winfield it's about 2.25 miles to the end of the road and some limited parking. This trailhead is used for both Huron Peak and routes to the Apostles. 

      If using this general trailhead description for access to peaks up the Lake Fork of Clear Creek (Clohesy Lake), then do not drive all the way to Winfield. Instead, you'll need to turn left at 9.8 miles in from US24 and drive down through the few cabins that comprise "Rockdale," ford Clear Creek and drive to the Clohesy Lake trailhead with a starting elevation of 10,900 ft. 4WD required for this access, otherwise, walk it and enjoy the frigid and sometimes dangerous crossing of Clear Creek.


      Camping

      For the access to Huron and the Apostles, best camping opportunities are along the final two miles to the trailhead from Winfield. There are several at-large spots available. Camping before Winfield can be difficult because of private property and the large number of people coming to climb Belford, Oxford and Missouri.

      There are good campsites for backpackers in the vicinity of "Hamilton" along the Huron Route and the trail up toward the Apostles. There are also good campsites in the meadow just north of the rock glacier at about 11,400 feet or a little lower. 

      If heading up the Lake Fork toward Clohesy Lake, there is at-large camping at the trailhead which is at a large, open meadow area that's relatively flat. Coordinates are: N 38° 57' 15.48" W 106° 24' 32.64"

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info North Apostle SW Ridge

    Route Description

    From the Forest Service, gated trailhead, walk south along the old roadbed. The Three Apostles will loom over the southern horizon and you'll be able to clearly see them. At about 1.25 miles, the main trail begins to turn SE and is a well-used descent route for hikers coming off Huron. Where the USGS map shows the old townsite of "Hamilton," and the trail turns off for Lake Ann, go about another 1,000 ft. and watch for a trail that breaks off the main and continues south crossing an eastern fork of South Clear Creek that drains the south side of Huron, and then crossing the main south fork of Clear Creek. This is how the Trails Illustrated map shows it and how G&M described. If the trail has been re-routed, try the Roach description. Roach has you turning off onto the Lake Ann Trail, (which serves as both the Colorado & Continental Divide Trail at this point), then crossing to the west side of the south fork of Clear Creek, and then turning south to join the Three Apostle's Trail. This trail that breaks off is well-used and continues south through forest gaining elevation along a ridge on the west side of that south fork of South Clear Creek which at times is below and very well entrenched.  The trail delivers you to a flat meadow area with abundant wildflowers at 11,360. There are some good camping spots in this area if backpacking in. The best are scattered among the stands of evergreens at the north end of the meadow. West Apostle will be directly south. You should be standing near the foot of a vast rock glacier that comes down from the steep couloirs of Ice Mountain and West Apostle. This meadow is where climbers will break off to the SE for North Apostle and Ice Mountain. A use trail will lead to the basin between North Apostle and Ice Mtn.

    From this point, Roach has you gain a small tarn at 12,100 ft, skirting a cliff in the process, and providing no other detail. When we climbed this in 1994, the trail we had been on became vague and wandered through the meadow crossing the stream a couple times before committing itself to the eastern slope of the basin. We followed it through willows and boulders at the foot of the rock glacier, then went up a steep western flank of N. Apostle. At this point it was still mostly all tundra. The dramatic NW ridge of N. Apostle terminates above this basin area. To gain access to the upper basin between N. Apostle and Ice Mtn., we headed in a direction that took us first on the west end of that NW ridge, then to the south side of the base of that NW ridge along a steep tundra slope. After gaining about 600 feet elevation, we turned more to the right to cut across a rocky and cliff-filled slope to get into the upper basin. By now, we suppose there is probably a well-established, cairned route, but at the time, we followed a nice tundra-covered bench through the minor cliffs to reach the center basin. G&M recommended a higher bench which would probably have worked just as well. The one we followed looked more inviting - less rock & more tundra. At the far south end of the bench, we began hiking more in a SE direction to gain more elevation. All of this brought us to/slightly above the small tarn that Roach mentions at 12,100 ft. It's difficult to represent this on the map provided. Getting to here will be the most complicated part of this climb.

    From the small lake/tarn, the basin stretches out to the SE. It's never really visible from anywhere below. The remainder of the hike is fairly straightforward. In earlier season, expect this upper basin to be largely snow-filled. If later season, expect plenty of rubble. To get around the lake/tarn, we climbed above it on the north side crossing on rock slabs and then heading across a boulder field before contouring back into the center of the basin. A tundra slope leads up for about the next 600 feet to about the 12,800 foot level. After that you'll have to resort to crossing large boulders and rock-hopping. When we climbed to here in 1994, the remainder of the route to the Ice Mountain - N. Apostle saddle was on snow. Ice axes were useful. If there's no snow here, it will be a lot of loose, rocky rubble. Breathe a sigh of relief when you finally reach the saddle, but don't relax yet. It's more of the same for the entire SW ridge of N. Apostle all the way to the summit. In 1994, there was faint trail & cairns marking the way. The cairns were pretty much useless. The final 500 feet, though a little tedious, is never too difficult and follows a course of small, sandy gullies where possible weaving among the rocks. 

    The summit of N. Apostle offers a chance to look down on the impressive west east and north faces/ridges of the peak. These are far more challenging. The summit also offers a chance to study the route up to Ice Mountain via the connecting ridge. If continuing on to Ice, spending a little time here will prove valuable in navigating the challenges on the upper part of the ridge. There's an impressive view of Huron to the north and to the south, Waterloo Gulch, which has a trail, offers some intriguing backpacking options. 


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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