Southwest Ridge

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
class 2+

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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Created On: Oct 13, 2004
Last Edited On: Oct 13, 2004


Starting at 4wd parking-
Round Trip-7.6 miles and 3,260-ft

Starting at Winfield Trailhead-
Round trip-11.6 miles and 3,600-ft

The following route is the only logical and safe route to the summit of North Apostle.

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 totally incorrect; ignore it.

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.

Lat 38.94083
Long -106.45657
Elevation 10838

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.

Route Description

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 locate the Southwest Ridge Route of North Apostle. Begin your ascent on large, stable talus and stay as close to the ridge crest as possible, in doing so this will eliminate any potential for unneeded erosion on the southwest ridge, plus it makes this route much more exciting. The southwest ridge is only class two from the saddle to the summit and actually easier hiking than the heinous slope from the lower basin to the saddle at 13,460-ft.

Again, try to descend the exact same line down this mountain to help with minimizing the erosion impact of hundreds of hikers and climbers each year on this beautiful, but loose mountain massif.

Essential Gear

I recommend bringing and using a helmet. Trekking poles help with the loose talus aound the area.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Southwest Ridge

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