Starting at the 4wd parking at 10,600-ft, hike .6 mile on the Lake Ann Trail to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Boundary. Hike another .6 miles to the Hamilton town site, I don’t remember seeing any old cabins here so I’m assuming this is just the site or place that at one time was a bustling, tiny mining town.
OK this is where Roach’s centennial book is way off in my opinion. His book says to cross to the west side of the South Fork of Clear Creek on the Lake Ann Trail, then leave the Lake Ann Trail and turn left onto the Three Apostles Trail. This beta is incorrect.
The following description is correct and easy to follow, complete with GPS coordinates for the hidden Apostle Basin Trail turnoff, it is not signed.
From the Hamilton town site, continue on the trail until you quickly reach the well-signed Apostle Basin/Lake Ann trail junction. Take the Apostle Basin Trail and start to count your steps, at 100 steps look sharp for a spur trail that branches off to the right. If your looking for it after 100 steps you will find it, we found easily before the sunrise. In case you want to use a GPS-here is a set waypoint for this turn-off.
Once on the unsigned Three Apostles Trail, drop down a bit and follow this trail for about 150 yards as it eventually descends down to a creek where you will find a huge log to cross the creek. After crossing, follow the well-trodden path one mile up to Three Apostle Basin, where the trail deposits you into an open, willow-infested basin, mostly above tree line. From here hike east (left) on the fading trail about 25-30 yards and drop down to the creek and cross the creek on another convenient log. Once you cross this log the trail will disappear. From here it is up to you where you go, but the best route avoids the willow filled lower basin and ascends the grassy, tree-covered slopes to the east (left-refer to my topo map). Ascend this basin, generally staying on the far left, staying high and as close to North Apostles nasty northwest ridge. At about 12,600 ft, hike southwest into the center of the steep slope that ascends to the North Apostle and Ice Mountain saddle. Ascend this heinous, talus-laden slope to 13,460-ft saddle.
From the saddle, start you ascent of Ice’s northeast ridge. Stay on or near the ridge crest, following the path of least resistance (loose-class 3.) At about 13,840-ft, the ridge makes a sudden jump up which will keep you from staying on the crest. From here traverse the difficulties on the right and make your way to the crux gully (loose-class 3.) You will know when you get to the crux gully, its obvious.
OK… one more time, Roach notes in his thirteener book to ascend the right side of the gully to a tiny notch, back onto the crest of the northeast ridge. He calls this class 3. When you look up the gully, your eyes will say that this is the obvious route back to the ridge crest. Well, this route does work, but it is loose, exposed class 4.
The easier route (class 3 with one or two easy class 4 moves) is not easy to locate but it is on the left side of the upper gully. We located this route on the descent after ascending the right, exposed, side of the gully. Make sure you are at the highest point in the gully before you have to make a decision to climb the right or the left, look sharp left for a 6 ft ledge to ascend on the left (class 4). Afterwards, follow the steep rock back up to the crest of the northeast ridge. From the ridge crest it is class 2+ for about 100 yards to the summit.
Helmet!!! and trekking poles will help with all of the loose talus on the approach to the saddle.
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