Elevation: 13,502 ft
GPS: 40.468, -105.664 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 2,683 total · 35/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Sep 5, 2012
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This is a less-visited locale on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park that requires a somewhat longer walk in, but it is a beautiful location with an alpine, granitic cirque with a small number of routes that go up to 1200 feet in length. Perhaps due to the abundance of closer alpine rock, this mountain can feel fairly remote despite it being a longer day trip.

The climbing is essentially all within a northeastern cirque that has some features that allow it to capture sunshine even into the mid-later afternoon on some aspects. Rock climbing here has been going on intermittently since at least the 1950s. Ice and mixed climbing has been going on here since at least the 1960s. Some fairly well-known climbers have wandered here including Duncan Ferguson, Terry Murphy, Doug Byerly, Greg Sievers, and Dave Johnston.

Interestingly, Lisa Foster notes in her excellent and comprehensive RMNP, The Complete Hiking Guide, 2005, Fairchild was named for a Lucius Fairchild, Wisconsin governor, who never even visited the area. Did he ever miss out....

Hiking to the summit can be done via the east ridge or the northeast slopes (best descent). There is an Hourglass Couloir, Class 2 snow climb, out of Ypsilon Lake as well.

This would be quite the hump in the winter with shorter days.

Water treatment options will save on weight carried, since there is quite a bit of water on the upper half of this approach.


A. Winterlong, III 8 M3+
B. Abadoo Scronch, III M4 AI4
C. Mirage, III WI5 M5/6
D. Power Struggle, IV 11
E. Don't You Want To Live With Me, IV 11+ A3
F. Honcho Boncho Buttress, III+ 7, 9p, 1200'.
G. Lost Buttress, II 7 AI 2+
H. Lost Buttress Right, 6 AI2+

Getting There

The most common approach is via the Lawn Lake Trailhead off the Fall River Road entrance into RMNP. Hike northward 1.4 miles to the junction where you go right towards Lawn Lake (not towards Ypsilon Lake & Ypsilon Mt.). Continue on a flatter 4.8 miles to the junction with the Black Canyon Trail and go left (Northeast) towards Lawn Lake. Curve around the eastern shore of Lawn Lake (6.3 miles). Near a patrol cabin, you get to a 4 option fork. The path you want is the 2nd from the left (not clearly marked). Continue to the fork for The Saddle (descent from the climbs). Consider leaving gear you won't climb with near this fork so you don't have to hike back to retrieve your gear. Continue leftward towards Little Crystal Lake (7.5 miles). Contour / boulder hop around the western shore and arrive at Crystal Lake (7.9 miles). Now the scrambling begins. The rest of the approach is only ~0.6 miles, but you probably need to budget in 1.5-2 hours for the remaining terrain, since the boulders are loose, and the final snow slopes are a bit treacherous. This snowfield is fairly sizeable and steep enough to make normal approach shoes feel inadequate. You can try to skirt the right side of the snowfield. We saw what seemed like an adequate path of scree/boulders resting on the left side and mid-left side of the snowfield and used that. There are spots where this is five steps up to gain one step's height. Eventually you can get a hole in the snowfield to gear up. Belaying from this hole may be the safest way onto the rock.

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