Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mummy Mania 2011

Chapin, Chiquita, Ypsilon, Fairchild
Chiquita, Ypsilon, Fairchild, Hagues (barely visible), Mummy
The stars aligned today for an awesome morning out in one of my favorite mountain ranges. I consider the Mummies my local high alpine playground and today I had them entirely to myself. For the five hours it took me to traverse the six peaks that when connected make up what has come to be known as Mummy Mania or the Mummy Kill, I saw not one soul.

The day began three-quarters of the way up the Old Fall River Road from the Chapin Pass Trailhead at first light, right around 6:30. Two years ago when Chad and I did this route, we managed to run right by Chapin, summiting Chiquita as our first peak, and therefore failing in our mission to establish a fastest time for the route. Today, I was supremely careful to make sure I made the right-hand cut necessary to hit Chapin, the shortest of the day's six peaks at just 12,454 feet.

As with all the Mummy peaks, Chapin has a dramatic cliffed-off southerly face with a more gradual northwestern slope. Chapin's south face drops over 2,500 feet to the Fall River below, and from the top the peak offers immense views of the Longs Peak massif. What Chapin lacks in stature, it makes up for in views. Pretty inspiring stuff with the sun low in the sky and a full morning of peak-bagging ahead.

From Chapin it is a short drop to approximately 12,000 feet along the cliff line between Chapin and Chiquita (13,069'), followed by a stout 1,000 foot hoof up to the Chiquita summit. The route between the two peaks benefits from a faint trail, which makes for reasonably surefooted and fast progress. The rest of the traverse is entirely off trail and littered with rocks - and lots of them.

Ypsilon from Fairchild.

Chaquita to Ypsilon (13,514') is also quite straightforward. A short 400 foot drop to the saddle, again along the southeastern cliff line, and then an 800 foot hoof to the summit. I stopped on top of Ypsilon for a few minutes to get down some calories and admire the awesome ridgelines that surround Spectacle Lakes some 2,000 feet below. And then it was off to Fairchild (13,502'), which for me is the crux of this route.

Ypsilon from en route to Fairchild.

Again, the almost too logical line is to follow the cliff some 700 feet down to the ridge that cuts northeast over to Fairchild. On approaching the ridge, things become a little less obvious, but the route - or the one I take - follows a line at about 12,300 feet on the southern side of the ridge across a large talus field that continues all the way up to the crown of Fairchild. Getting up to Fairchild's benign rounded summit is hard work and a little bit sketchy. The route up is not an obvious one, and really the best course of action is to scramble as best you can up the southern rocks, which is mainly class three terrain, and then follow the ridge up.

By the summit, I was beginning to feel the morning's effort, but still had plenty of perk left in me.

Fairchild from below Ypsilon

Fairchild from halfway up Hagues Peak

It's a long rocky descent off Fairchild down to the saddle between it and Hagues, but with pep still in the legs I was running all of the rocky saddle before dropping into hoof mode for the strenuous 1,200 foot ascent of Hagues (13,560'), the high point of Larimer County and one of Rocky Mountain National Park's more impressive peaks. The ridgeline to the summit, viewed from Fairchild is one of my favorite sights of the whole traverse. I mean, what a line.

Hagues Peak

From Hagues, which involves some class three action near the top, I followed the ridge towards Mummy Mountain (13,425') and then again cut a line a few hundred feet under the ridge for a lengthy period of serious rock hopping. The legs were still good so I was able to make rapid progress to the northwest ridge of Mummy Mountain before getting the head down for the last grunter of the day.

From the summit block, the route off the traverse involves a little more easterly progress on the top of Mummy before a sharp and rocky descent on the southeastern flank of the mountain down to a drainage that leads all the way down to the Black Canyon Trail at 11,000 feet.

The intimidating south face of Mummy Mountain (from Trail Ridge Road)

From there it is a quick right for maybe a half mile before the intersection with the Lawn Lake Trail. A left at Lawn Lake and then it is a touch under six miles downhill to the trailhead and the end of the route. I must have been tired as I tripped and fell twice on the way down, but I got there in one piece in exactly 6:30, a full hour quicker than two years ago even with the addition of an extra summit. A most satisfying morning.

This isn't a hugely traveled route from what I can make out, and when it is, it is not typically done for time. The fastest time I have seen for the route - Peter Bakwin, I believe - is 7:45, so I'll throw that 6:30 out there as a current standard for the trailhead-to-trailhead traverse. With some extra focus, no camera and less lingering on the summits, I'm pretty sure I could take it under 6:00, but that will have to wait for another season.

17 (ish) miles, 6,800 feet of vert and 9,100 feet of descent.

The traffic from Lawn Lake heading up the Old Fall River Road on this beautiful fall day was heavy, so it wasn't long before my thumb procured a lift for the final nine miles back up to the car.

Fall in the Mummies (from the Old Fall River Road).

The route


Chapin: 39
Chiquita: 1:03
Ypsilon: 1:34
Fairchild: 2:45
Hagues: 3:57
Mummy: 4:49
Lawn Lake Trail: 5:39
Lawn Lake TH: 6:30


  1. It's the 13ers that make RMNP! I'm glad everyone else is on Longs. A wonderful playground we have!

  2. Now that looked like a great day!

  3. Looks to be an inspiring line for sure, Nick. Sorry I couldn't join you - next year, hopefully. What a wonderful time of year!


  4. 6:30 is definitely soft. In fact there was talk last night about this time going down in the next couple weeks...
    Brian S (note the 'i' not a 'y', do I look like some kind of country bumpkin?)

  5. Bry - sorry - ian, that sounds like fighting talk. So a Tuesday night conversation...hmmm... sounds like Dakota and Ryan have been unleashing some smack talk. 6:30 is solid, but like I said, definitely beatable.

    I consumed just 200 calories and approx 40 oz of water the whole morning and was pretty bonky coming down on the Lawn Lake trail. If I'd taken better care of my caloric needs and was motivated to run fast on that trail section, I'm sure I could have easily shaved 6-7 minutes there alone. Summits, I was lingering, so at least 10 minutes there. Couple of poor route choices - especially on Fairchild - probably another 10 minutes. And then just not really focused on time exclusively was probably another 15 minutes.

    Add all that up and you've got about 50 minutes. If you guys don't take the time below 6:00, I'll be hugely disappointed - especially now you have splits to work off.

    And just for the record, Dakota bailed on me at 9:00 the night before - I think he was concerned about being able to keep up or something!