When I think about my favorite destination hikes, the one that comes highest on my list is Mount Ypsilon. It was first recommended to me by a friend and Colorado Hikemaster as a challenging but logistically accessible entry into 13,000+ foot summits.
My first attempt was in 2010 when my father and I navigated the unfamiliar course and misread the topography, mistakenly summiting nearby Mount Chiquita instead. With weather approaching, we choose to turn around and claim Chiquita as our accomplishment for the day. The following year, we returned with a better knowledge of the mountain range above the end of the marked trail and successfully submitted Ypsilon.
For this trip, I set a goal to complete the CCY triple summit: reaching the tops of Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon in succession.
The trail started just below 11,000 feet with a steady climb through the woods.
Within a half mile, the trial splits between the Chapin Creek trail and the trail leading to the summits. Just above that, the forest opens up to allow views of some of the surrounding peaks.
The trail meanders up the mountain and along hillsides before forking with a sign that reads All Summits and points to the right. The left fork leads along the lower parallel of the ridgeline.
As the trail approached 12,000 feet, the grass and trees were replaced with rocks and snow.
Just off the trail, a pika has left its tracks in the snow.
Cresting above 12,000 feet, the Mount Chapin summit comes into view. The summit trail is a spur off the main with occasional rock cairns to guide the way. This morning, the snow disguised some of the smaller cairns but when all else fails, just keep climbing.
From the top of Chapin, the cloud-obscured summit of Chiquita beckons.
While descending from Chapin, Desolation Peak and Flatiron Mountain stand proudly in the distance while the Chapin Creek valley is visible below.
From the base of Chapin, the 1,000-foot climb to Chiquita looks appropriately daunting. As the clouds encompass the mountain, the view ahead looks temptingly close but clear skies reveal the remaining climb ahead.
On the summit of Chiquita, the sun had melted the snow to a degree but clouds obscured the surrounding view.
From the saddle between Chiquita and Ypsilon, the top of the final peak is temptingly within reach. What is visible however is an intermediate plain which blocks the view of the true summit. After descending Chiquita, you still have about one mile and a 1,000 feet gain which at 13,000 feet is a daunting ascent.
Once on top, the clouds parted long enough for spectacular views from the top.
Coming down from Ypsilon, I opted for an off-trail return through the the forested valley around Chapin Creek. This involved a steep and rugged decent into the clearing below followed by a traverse along the forest edge. Following game trails along the dense, side-slopped woods, I slowly made my way back to the marked trail near my start. It was the most challenging, beautiful, difficult, and rewarding hike of my trip.