Chiquita, Ypsilon, and Fairchild Circle

        by Gordon S. Novak Jr.         June 30, 1990

The trail to Mt. Chapin and Chiquita starts from Chapin Pass on Fall River Road a bit below the visitor center on Trail Ridge Road. Fall River Road is usually opened on the 4th of July, but is open a bit early this year. I get my wife to drop me off at the bottom of the road (she doesn't like to drive on Trail Ridge) so I can hitchhike up. The few times I've tried hitchhiking I've had poor luck: I'm pretty big, and nobody wants to risk picking me up. Today I have an ice axe too, possibly a formidable weapon. But in the Park this marks me as a climber, and I get picked up almost immediately. I start from the Chapin Pass trailhead at 10:25.
I've previously climbed Chapin, so I bypass it and head straight for Chiquita. The Desolation Peaks look easy from here, just a long hike. I reach the Chiquita summit at 13:41. Somebody has signed the register with Euler's equation, ei*pi + 1 = 0, as the comment. Halfway up Ypsilon I see a ptarmigan -- it looks just like a granite rock and might get stepped on if it didn't move. I reach the Ypsilon summit at 15:20; rain and lightning hang over the Never Summer range, though the weather is good where I am.
Leaving Ypsilon toward Fairchild, I hit a problem: the way is blocked by a corniced ridge of snow with about a 15-foot drop -- not much, but too much to jump. I am wishing I had brought a bit of rope for a short rappel. Finally I find a class 3 route to the left that gets me off the ridge. Now I descend over pink granite blocks and moderate snow fields before beginning the steep climb up the flanks of Fairchild. By 18:25 I have climbed the steepest part, and I reach the summit at 18:50. The summit of Fairchild is covered by large flat granite blocks, like giant railroad flatcars.
Since it is getting late, I leave the summit at 19:00 and continue down to reach Lawn Lake at 20:45. It's just six miles downhill on trail from here, but it's a long six miles when you're tired. I make it back to the Lawn Lake trailhead at 22:50. My wife and kids, suspecting I would be late, have brought the Monopoly board. They're tired of Monopoly and mad by the time I get there, but they are glad I returned safely, and they take me back.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks