Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mummy Mania

The Mummy traverse, or Mummy Mania as it is commonly called, is a peak-bagging trip across the north-eastern boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. The traditional route is to start at the Chapin Pass trailhead (10,600'), three quarters of the way up the Old Fall River Road, and follow the Mummy Range northeast, taking in six peaks along the way: Chapin (12,454'), Chiquita (13,069'), Ypsilon (13,514'), Fairchild (13,502'), Hagues (13,560'), and Mummy (13,426').

Chad and I had been planning on running this route for quite some time, so we were pretty excited to finally be heading up to the Mummies when we met up at five on Saturday morning. We parked up at the Chapin trailhead and were ready to go by 6:15 or so. We had a super clear morning, and the early morning light from the east was as beautiful as ever.

A little later in the morning from the top of Chiquita (I think)

The plan was to get the traverse done as quickly as possible in hopes that we could get all six peaks bagged and be back down to the Lawn Lake trailhead in under 7:45, which was the fastest time for this trip that we could find on the internet (on Peter Bawkin's website). To be honest, we thought it would be a breeze and were actually thinking more along the lines of getting it done in five or six hours. However, thoughts of an FKT soon became irrelevant as we somehow managed to miss Mount Chapin (by far the easiest peak of them all) on our way to Mount Chiquita, although we didn't figure this out until we found the summit register on top of Fairchild ... thinking we were standing on Chiquita. Doh!

From Chapin to Lawn Lake (with all six peaks) it is approximately 16 miles and 6,500' of climbing, with most of the work between 12,500' and 13'500'. We didn't have much beta on the footing, so assumed it would be a mix of tundra running, boulder hoping and climbing, which it pretty much was, but with way more boulder action than tundra - so to call this a 'run' would be a stretch of epic proportions. With the exception of the first mile or two of trail to Chapin Pass and the last 6 miles on the Lawn Lake Trail, this route is a solid hike. We put in a few token running efforts on some of the less boulder-strewn sections of tundra, but it was hardly worth the effort in terms of making time.

Putting in a token run

Setting out from the trailhead, it was a fairly steep climb on the trail that led straight to and up Mount Chiquita. Somewhere here we should have made a quick cut up to Mount Chapin, but missed it and ended up bagging Chiquita as our first peak. Chiquita was pretty straightforward, with an unmaintained cairn trail all the way to the summit.

Longs from Chapin Pass

Estes Park's southern skyline: Twin Sisters, Estes Cone, Longs

Longs from summit of Chiquita

From Chiquita, there was decent tundra to move on through the saddle to Ypsilon, and we took the peak down in fairly short order.

Spectacle Lakes from the ridge over to Ypsilon

Chad on Ypsilon

The trek over to Fairchild was much more strenuous, with endless rock hopping and plenty of grunting. The climb up Fairchild was also pretty stout, and involved a fair bit of class III maneuvering


A well-camouflaged ptarmigan on the rocks between Ypsilon and Fairchild

Topping out on Fairchild

The saddle between Fairchild and Hagues offered some respite (once off Fairchild) from scree and rock hopping, with some lush ground cover. The tundra was still littered with rock, however, which made running particularly hazardous. We soon gave up any hopes of serious running on the traverse and just settled in for a solid hike the rest of the way.

The saddle to Hagues (the best and most strenuous climb of the day)

Hagues was another stout climb, with some fun class IV climbing near the summit. As we peaked out on Hagues, some weather started moving in and light snow started to fall. It was still relatively warm, and there was next to no wind, so we didn't worry too much. The weather soon passed, although it looked pretty ugly to the south over Longs. We didn't stop long on Hagues, pushing on across the rocks to Mummy Mountain.

Nothing but rocks on the way to Mummy Mountain

The actual climb up Mummy Mountain was pretty straightforward with plenty of rich red vegetation making the footing much easier than on the boulders that had been the main theme of the day.

A nice view of Lawn Lake from a notch in the ridge near the summit of Mummy Mountain

After hitting the final peak of the day, we eased down the southeastern face of Mummy Mountain on a blanket of beautiful red ground cover, which was an absolute blessing after the unforgiving rock we had been bouncing around on all morning.

Mummy Mountain was blanketed

Chiquita, Ypsilon and Fairchild from Mummy

After the big descent down Mummy on our red carpet, we hooked in with a drainage channel and made our way down to the Black Canyon Trail, where we could finally break out a full-on run. It felt great to be running, and we soon picked up the Lawn Lake Trail and ran the six miles down to the trailhead for a total outing time of 7:27.

I think it would have been touch and go on the record if we had taken in Chapin, although I am sure we would have pressed harder if it was in the cards. Once we realized, on Fairchild, that we had missed Chapin, we were fairly deflated, so pretty much decided from there to make it a solid hike on the day rather than push for any time goals. We'll do it up properly next time.

We hitched a ride back up the Old Fall River road from a sweet young couple from Ohio. Our original plan was to run the eight miles back, but then we had also thought we'd get the traverse done in under five hours, so opted to save our weary legs for another day.

Splits if you're interested:

Chaquita: 0:58
Ypsilon: 1:30
Fairchild: 2:59
Hagues: 4:15
Mummy: 5:24
Hit trail: 6:33
Lawn Lake TH: 7:27


  1. Have not done that loop in about a decade. Your post has me itching at it ... nice report, looks like you had a great day.

  2. That is the coolest course! Nice pics. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. fun times, bummed i missed it. get up to pingree when you can (970) 881-2150 for the landline. there are tons of peak link ups and sweet single track...yesterday i ran comanche and fall...all from the backdoor! awesome to see you in Pbville!