Fairchild Mountain is located in the heart of the Mummy Range and is the 6th highest peak within the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because of this mountains long approach, it is not visited nearly as often as other Peaks in the National Park. This is a good summit if you are looking for relative solitude. While you are likely to see other people, it will be few. From the Lawn Lake trailhead, climbing this mountain requires nothing more than a tundra walk, with the occasional boulder hopping as you near the summit.
Being a prominant mountain, viewed from Trail Ridge Road, it had always stirred my interest. It is a wonderful climb on a well established trail, through all types of terrian you could possibly expect from the National Park. Not only is there classic scenery, the area also provides a habitat for many types of wildlife, including Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion, and Bobcat.
Round Trip: 17.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,962 feet
The most common trail used to Summit Fairchild Mountain is the Lawn Lake Trail. To get to this trailhead, enter the National Park through the Fall River Entrance, Hwy 34. About 2 miles into the park, take a right where the signs point you to "Old Fall River Rd." and "End o' Valley." Once on this road, you will take your first right, where signs clearly point you to the "Lawn Lake Trailhead."
Follow the well established trail for 6.2 miles to Lawn Lake. This is the origin of a large flood on July 15, 1982, when the Lawn Lake Dam failed and released a wall of water that, literally, ripped away the river banks, and washed tons of debris into the town of Estes Park, leaving it buried in up to six feet of mud. House sized boulders were tossed around like pebbles, and the force of the water, sadly, left its mark on the banks of the Roaring River forever.
Once you pass Lawn Lake and it's sandy beaches, evidence of the larger lake before the damn failed, continue up the trail toward "The Saddle." Fairchild Mountain will domiate the left side (Southwest side) of the valley.
This mountain can also be climbed via its connecting ridge to Ypsilon Mountain.
The only permit required is a pass to get into the National Park. You can buy a week pass for $15, or an annual pass for $30.
There are some wonderful campsites at Lawn Lake. Call the Backcountry Office, 970-586-1242, for details on camping.
Fees for admission.
When To Climb
Of course, the Summer months are when this mountain is typically climbed. The Winter would mean a much more tiresome approach, having to use snowshoes. I would also reccomend crampons, at least, for the final push to the summit. There was only about a foot of snow when I last summited, and I was wishing for at least a pear of ice spikes....the steeper terrain and icy boulders made it a little tricky, but nothing terrible.
There are some wonderful campsites at Lawn Lake. Book these early, because they are popular!
Call the Backcountry Office, 970-586-1242, for specific details.
To get the most accurate conditions on this mountain, it would be best to call Rocky Mountain National Park directly. 970-586-1206.
I would like to add route information involving the ridge between Fairchild and Ypsilon. If anyone has first-hand knowledge of what this ridge is like, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or make the route page yourself. thanks