Ypsilon Chiquita Chapin
Mountain Hike Scramble- RMNP Colorado
As of 2022 I became aware that RMNP has a new set of
restrictions and fees that one needs to review.
There is a new "timed entry system" from May 27 to October
22, 2022 and the usual park pass requirements etc If you've never been there I
would recommend jumping through the new hoops to enter a couple of times. There
is lots of other cool mountain exploration in Colorado for the longer time
The three peaks from the
The three peaks from the
The Old Fall River road -
all one way to the Alpine Visitor center
A nice section of the Old
Fall River road, has that Christmas feel
The Chapin Pass trailhead,
limited parking so best to arrive early
After only a few minutes
up the trail you make a right hand turn here
Some rocky steps and
More trail with the west
side of Mount Chapin in view
Trail skirts above a
meadow on the way to an intersection
Both trails go to the
Mount Chiquita Mount Chapin saddle but I prefer the right one as
you gain a bit of altitude then traverse the west flank of
Chapin to the saddle. The left trail drops a bit into a large
meadow then up to the same saddle. Some people go off trail on
the traverse, up to Chapin's west summit although the east
summit directly from the saddle is a bit higher.
Near the end of the
traverse on a good trail the saddle comes into view
Looking back at the saddle
and the traverse from the start up the slopes of Chiquita.
A view of the slopes to
ascend Mount Chiquita
Heading up Mount Chiquita
on a faint trail
On the summit of Mount
Chiquita our hand out seeking Marmot made himself available for
Looking down from Mount
Chiquita to the Chiquita / Ypsilon saddle, have to lose a bit of
A look up the slopes of
Looking back at the summit
of Mount Chiquita from the saddle
Spectacle Lakes below the
rugged east face of Ypsilon Mountain
Another view of Spectacle
Yours truly on the summit
of Ypsilon Mountain with about 5 other people taking each others
Nice view of Mt.
Richthofen to the north west
Nice views to the west of
the Never Summer range of which Mt. Richthofen is at the
northern end of it.
View to the north and
slightly east is Fairchild Mountain
Some cool cloud formations
as we were chased off the summit with impending dark clouds. Did
a low traverse around Chiquita but the feared storm dissipated
so all ended well.
Traversing back on Chapin
some cool looking mashed potato clouds started to come over
Ypsilon and Chiquita
From the traverse on
Chapin you can see the Alpine Visitor Center at the end of the
Old Fall River road where the pavement begins again.
Nice Cafe and lots of
souvenirs to look over.
Nice visitor center with
books, maps and park rangers and staff you can talk with.
The Trail Ridge Road on
the way back to Estes Park from the Alpine Visitor Center. Keep
your eyes on the road! Stop at the pullouts if you want to view
the scenery. You are at around 12,000 feet.
Just cool scenery, love
Ah yes, don't do this
without professional planning :)
Ypsilon Chiquita Chapin Mountain Hike
Scramble - RMNP Colorado
Scramble: Class 1 up to
the Chiquita Chapin saddle, Class 2
Altitude: 13,514 ft, Trailhead 10,640 ft
Elevation Gain: 3,400 ft approx with up and
down for Ypsilon / Chiquita col, Round trip 7.0 miles
Start Time: 6am to 8am to be on your way down
by noon and avoid potential lightning storms
Ascent Time: 3 Hours + or -
Ypsilon from the east side is a rugged
distinctive looking mountain with a Y shaped couloir. However
from the west side itís a high alpine hike over open tundra on
easy slopes. Very scenic as most of the hike is above tree line.
But keep an eye on the weather as it is a lot of traversing of
open slopes to escape a storm. I recommend including Chiquita
Mountain on the way at 13,069 ft, Chapin Mountain is more
optional at 12,454 ft. After this you can visit the Alpine
Visitor Center and be a tourist. Lots of souvenirs to choose
from in both buildings.
Chapin Pass Trailhead on Old Fall River Road
Ė 10,640 ft Ė No restrooms
RMNP provides a good map of the park on their
web site as well as well as on paper. Chapin Pass Trailhead is
on a 9 mile section of narrow gravel road called Old Fall River
Road that only opens for a narrow season of use. In 2011 it
opened at the end of July, beginning of August. From highway 34
to the Fall River Entrance Station its only 4 miles to the start
of the gravel road. From the south entrance on highway 36 called
Beaver Meadows Entrance Station it is only 7 miles to the start
of the gravel road. Parking is limited to perhaps 10 vehicles so
get there early. Parking is along the edge of the road opposite
the trailhead sign. From the Beaver Meadows south entrance take
a right hand turn after about 3 miles and follow this road with
Ypsilonís east face looming in front of you. Another approx 3
miles and you take a left hand turn onto Old Fall River Road. It
is paved for a bit but this soon turns to gravel. From the Fall
River north entrance itís about 2 miles and a right hand turn
onto Old Fall River Road.
The Old Fall River Road is only a one way and
continues for a further couple of miles to the Alpine Visitor
Center where you catch the two way paved Trail Ridge Road back
east to Estes Park. A very scenic loop to say the least. Best to
have a vehicle with some clearance for the gravel road but most
vehicles should be able to make it if careful on the ruts at the
switchbacks. Generally no guardrails so keep your eyes on the
There are 3 major campgrounds on the east
side of RMNP if you donít require showers or laundry. Aspenglen
(elevation 8,220 ft) 54 sites, Glacier Basin (elevation 8,500
ft) 150 sites and Moraine Park (elevation 8,160 ft) 245 sites.
$20/night when the water is on.
The place I recommend is Elk Meadow Lodge and
RV Resort (elevation 7,468 ft) which is just over a mile from
the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Approximately $30/night for
a tent site but includes free showers and has laundry
facilities. A good base to enter the park easily and also only a
couple of miles to the main street of Estes Park.
Estes Park Campground at Maryís Lake and East
Portal Reservoir are also possibilities with showers not sure
about laundry though.
Head up the trail beside the Chapin Pass
trailhead sign and in only a few minutes there is a sign
pointing to the right for the trail to Ypsilon. Take this trail
as it heads through the trees with a few stone staircase
sections. It climbs through a few rocky bluff type sections with
the grassy hump in the back being Chapin. As you round a corner
from a meadow section the trail divides at the sign which points
to the trail to the right saying "All Summits Trail Not
Maintained Beyond This Point". Both trails go to the Chiquita /
Chapin saddle at just over 12,000 ft. The left trail drops a bit
and goes through a large meadow then up to the saddle. The right
trail climbs up a bit then traverses along Chapinís west flank
to the same saddle. I prefer the right hand trail as you donít
lose any elevation to get to the saddle.
From the Chiquita / Chapin saddle you can
make a quick dash up Chapin if all the summits is your goal.
Then back at the saddle begin your climb up to the summit of
Chiquita at 13,069 ft. It has a good windbreak and a nice spot
to stop for a snack before you contemplate dropping down to the
Chiquita / Ypsilon saddle at around 12,800 ft and then the climb
up to the farthest of the three points of Ypsilon. Return the
same way although if weather is threatening you can traverse the
west side of Chiquita lower down and make it to the Chiquita /
Chapin saddle. Then you could take the trail down through the
meadow to lose further elevation quickly rather than the
traverse along Chapinís west flank.