Mount Ida (12889 ft, 3929 m), Chief Cheley Peak (12804 ft, 3903 m), and Cracktop (12766 ft, 3891 m) from Milner Pass, 07/23/2005
From Lyons, we reached Estes Park at 5:25. Continuing up Trail Ridge Road, we parked at Milner Pass (GPS: elev 10754 ft, acc 16 ft). We started hiking from Milner Pass at 6:24. It was a nice clear morning with only a few clouds in the distance.
We reached the summit of Mount Ida at 8:30 (GPS: odometer 5.36 miles, elev 12909 ft, acc 14 ft). From the Ida summit we could see the Cheley-Ida saddle below and the rugged ridge up from the saddle to the summit of Chief Cheley.
The hike to Cheley was easier than it looked with most of it class 2 except a little class 3 at the beginning just below the summit of Ida, and then some more class 3 just below the Cheley summit. We reached the summit of Chief Cheley at 9:14 (GPS: odometer 7.08 miles, elev 12848 ft, acc 14 ft).
From Cheley to Cracktop the way gets more rugged. After leaving the summit of Cheley and heading toward Cracktop we initially followed the top of the ridge, but it soon became a jumble of large loose rock on a steep slope to the glacier below. This made me uncomfortable enough to want to investigate a better route to the right (west) of the ridge. Stefan was like-minded and we went over to the west side of the ridge and soon found a nice route about one hundred feet below the ridge which even had a cairn or two. We reached the Cracktop summit at 10:05 (GPS: odometer 7.94 miles, elev 12834 ft, acc 13 ft).
The summit of Cracktop has spectacular views of Highest Lake, Inkwell Lake, Chief Cheley, Ida, Julian, and Stones Peak. To our surprise we weren't alone on the summit when we got there. A guy named Scott, also from Longmont, was already there. From the Cracktop summit I could see several people now on the summit of Ida. We signed the summit register, and began descending from the Cracktop summit at 10:33. Clouds were beginning to form so we figured we'd better start back.
We returned to the Cheley summit at 11:07, and returned to the Ida summit at 11:44, not having met anyone the whole distance from Cracktop back to Ida. Heading back along the divide toward Milner Pass, we heard the first thunder well before reaching treeline, so we didn't take any breaks until getting back into the trees. We stopped for lunch in the forest, and finally returned to the Milner Pass parking area at about 14:10.
Milner Pass 40.4197 105.8114
Point 11881 40.4117 105.8036
Point 12150 40.3952 105.7917
Mt Ida (12889) 40.3717 105.7792
Ida-Cheley Saddle 40.3699 105.7767
Chief Cheley Peak (12804) 40.3670 105.7742
Point on Divide closest to Cracktop 40.3647 105.7691
Cracktop (12766) 40.3658 105.7667
Highest Lake Outlet 40.3682 105.7723