Fall Mountain, Comanche Peak and Ranked Peak 12,716’
Joe Grim and Tim Worth
4,573’ gain (12% avg. grade)
9 hours, 15 minutes
The Trip Report
Tim and I started this hike from the Pingree Park campus at 7:00am. We hiked through part of the campus and then followed the Old Morril Trail up to the Emmaline Lake Trail. We made good time heading up the easy grade of the Emmaline Lake Trail, turning off at the Mummy Pass Trail by 7:45. Our grade steepened a little on the Mummy Pass Trail, but we still made good time, reaching timberline a little before 9:00. Upon reaching the RMNP boundary at 9:30 (and 5.4 miles into the hike), we broke off trail toward Fall Mountain.
We scrambled up to the top of Fall’s eastern subsummit. It was mostly class 2+, with a few easy class 3 moves. Our pace was much slower as we worked our way upward. Upon reaching the subsummit at 10:45am, it was a lot easier going, as we dropped down to the saddle and up to the true summit of Fall. From the saddle, it appeared that it would have been easier had we followed the Mummy Pass Trail further, and then ascended northward to the saddle; this would likely avoid the scrambling we had to do. On the summit of Fall, there are two highpoints of nearly equal height, but we are pretty sure that the western bump is the highest. From here, we could see much of our route over to Comanche.
As we worked our way across the mostly grassy and mainly gently-sloping terrain between Fall and Comanche, we enjoyed frequent views down into the cirques below. The southern cirque is full of rock piles, the result of previous glacial pushes forming multiple end moraines. The northern cirque has more trees at its base and holds beautiful Emmaline and Cirque Lakes, as well as a few other smaller unnamed pools. Between the two cirques is a steep and jagged knife-edge ridge. I wish I had thought to take a photo of it. We also enjoyed our views of the higher peaks of the Mummy Range to the south. We kept our eyes to the sky, as the puffy clouds began to build higher and higher.
The final push up to Comanche was kind of steep, and by this time I was becoming quite tired. I bagged the westernmost (and highest) summit at 11:50, while Tim bagged both the western and middle summits, just to make sure he had gotten the highest. We then hiked over to 12,716’. By this time, storm clouds were building in multiple directions, so we bagged this as quickly as possible and began to head back. We thought it would be good to wrap around Comanche’s NE ridge, instead of ascending it. This however turned out to be the wrong choice, as the side of the ridge is quite rocky, with plenty of tippy rocks and boulders. Also, the rockiness of the slope kept guiding us downhill so that we really never got on top of the eastern ridge until we had reached treeline. We spent nearly two hours working our way across all the talus.
Working our way between the stunted trees towards “Golgotha”, we began to find blue ribbons in the trees, as well as occasional rock cairns, that marked the way. However, we lost the “trail” several times until finally we stayed on it for good once we were past all the rocky areas. From here, we made good progress downhill on the Old Morril Trail back down to Pingree Park and Tim’s Jeep. By the time we reached it, I was completely exhausted, while Tim was just “pretty tired”. This hike sets my new personal elevation gain record at 4,573’. It was nowhere near Tim’s record though.
Links to Photos and Tracks
For photos and tracks from this and previous hikes to Comanche Peak, Fall Mountain and on the Mummy Pass and Old Morril Trails, you can go to this link
or this other link
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