Ypsilon Mountain sits in the Northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in a range known as the Mummy Range. Although it is not the highest summit in the Range, it is definately the most recognizable. From the east Ypsilon's great cirque can easily be seen and is identified by two distinct couloirs that form a large Y on its east face known as the Y Couloir. Compared to other parts of the park, the summits in the Mummy Range see much less traffic which greatly adds to their beauty.
The easiest and shortest route, the Southwest Ridge
is a mere class 2 walk up over tundra (no clear trail) from Chapin Pass to the summit. Enroute to the summit you can easily take in the summits of both Mount Chapin and Mount Chaquita which offer excellent views of the rugged east side of the Mummy Range. The more technical routes (up to IV 5.9) associated with the East face involve an easy but long approach and the routes are long and sustained with the descent often being as difficult as the climb.
The views from the summit include the rest of the Mummy Range as well as the Never Summer, Medicine Bow and the Long's Peak Massif. A must do summit for climbers and hikers visiting the Park. Ypsilon is great as a destination or as a stop over while including other peaks in the range.
There are two major trailheads for approaching climbs on Ypsilon. For both trailheads enter the Park on the east side from Estes Park. Follow the signs to the Fall River Entrance of the Park. From the entrance travel 2.3 miles and take a right onto Fall River Road (FRR).
The Lawn Lake Trailhead is located on the right .25 miles down FRR. This trailhead provides access to the climbs on the east face of Ypsilon. Follow the Lawn Lake trail for about 1.3 miles to where the Ypsilon Trail branches off and crosses the Roaring River to the west. Continue to follow this trail for another 5 miles to Ypsilon Lake. Most East face routes are accessible from this area. These range from the class 3 Donner ridge and the Classic III 5.4 Blitzen Ridge to the more difficult snow and ice climbs associated with the cirque.
To access the Chapin Pass Trailhead, follow FRR for a total of about 9 miles. Parking is limited and is found along the sides of the road so get there early. This TH provides easy access to the short and easy class 2 Southwest Ridge. From here it is about 3.5 miles to the summit.
An entrance fee into the park is required. $10 per person or $20 per car, which ever is less, for a 7 day pass or purchase a season pass for all National Parks for $50 and is good for all National Parks for 1 year from date of purchase. A RMNP only season pass is $35.
For day hikes only an entrance fee is required. Both bivy and camping permits are available for the Ypsilon Lake area. Permits are limited and currently cost $15.
When To Climb
Ypsilon Mountain may be climbed year around with the most popular time being the summer months from May to September. The more technical routes are extremely more difficult in the winters as is the approach. The Southwest Ridge presents serious avalanche danger in the winter.
Camping related to Ypsilon Mountain is only allowed in the Ypsilon Lake area. Both camping and bivy sites require permits that are obtained from RMNP's Backcountry Office which can be reached at 970-586-1242. Upper Chipmunk Lake is the only feasible camping area for East side climbs and only has two sites. Other options consist mainly of bivy sites in the area. The backcountry office will aid you in finding the one that best suits your climbing needs.
Mountain Conditions can be obtained from a several places. The following are just a few:
-Colorado Mountain School
They also provide guiding, equipment rental and lodging
-Rocky Mountain National Park
-Summit Post Message Board Post under the Rockies
Detailed forecasts are provided by NOAA