Fairchild Mountain (13,502 ft, 4,115 meters), 08/16/2003
Stefan came up with the idea of a loop hike, where we would ascend the southeast ridge of Fairchild Mountain, then return via the saddle between Fairchild Mtn and Hagues Peak, and finally down to Lawn Lake. We have never seen any mention or description of this loop. Started at the Lawn Lake Trailhead (elevation 8,540 ft, 2,602 meters) at 6:14. After a couple of miles, we turned left at the sign to the campsites along the Roaring River. This trail crossed the river, then branched left and right. We took the left branch, hiking about 1/4 mile to the Ypsilon Creek campsite. From there, we left the trail heading north up the beginning of the Fairchild Mountain ridge, at 7:19. The forest became less dense as we ascended the ridge, then reaching the first knob just below treeline, we got a nice view of much of the ridge before us. The view was very scenic, with the forest giving way to a large expanse of alpine meadow, followed by boulder field the rest of the way up to the summit. Ascending the ridge, we could see Ypsilon Lake to our left. Clouds began building up already at about 9:00, which concerned us that we might get some thunderstorms developing earlier than usual. This prompted us to get to the top of Fairchild as soon as possible, so we kept up a good pace. We pretty much followed the top of the ridge all the way up. A good part of the ridge was characterized by large boulders, which slowed us down considerably. It appears in retrospect, that we could have gone around the left side of these large boulders where the way is mostly alpine meadow and smaller rocks. We reached the summit of Fairchild Mountain at 10:06. The elevation gain from the Lawn Lake trailhead to the Fairchild summit is 4,962 feet (1,512 meters). From the summit, the rugged southwest face of Mummy Mountain is prominent, along with Hagues Peak just to its left. In the opposite direction, we could see a long stretch of Trail Ridge Road cutting through the forest, and alpine meadow. I signed the summit register, and we took a few pictures, then promptly began our hike down to the saddle, concerned that lightning might soon be starting. Down below the saddle we eventually picked up the Black Canyon Trail, then followed it down toward Lawn Lake. Reaching treeline, we sat down on a log and had some water at 11:18. Continuing on, we passed Lawn Lake and began the hike back. In the forest, we eventually stopped for lunch. We completed the loop, where the campsite trail branches off from the Lawn Lake Trail, at 13:13. Returned to the trailhead, and the truck, at 14:05. The total round trip time was 7 hours and 51 minutes.