Peak(s):  Fairchild Mtn  -  13,502 feet
Date Posted:  08/04/2014
Modified:  06/25/2020
Date Climbed:   08/02/2014
Author:  cougar
 Fairchild Mountain South Southeast (Rudolph) Ridge  

Fairchild Mountain was some unfinished business for me, having been turned back a few years ago by a storm near the summit. After bagging Hagues, the Rowes, and Gibraltar in a single day the week before, I had no desire to repeat the endless slog to Lawn Lake. Since Fall River Rd is closed (completely) and I still wanted to get this peak in, I opted for a shorter, more direct route from the Lawn Lake trail. This was actually a pretty good route. It avoids having to spiral around the mountain from Lawn Lake and cuts off about 4 miles from the trip. It's also more scenic most of the way. I only found one description of this route with no photos and not much detail.

Stats : elevation gain just under 5000 ft, mileage < 15 miles RT, about 9 hrs. Compared to the 18-19 miles it would take going the Lawn Lake routes.

I started out on the Lawn Lake trail, heading for the Cutbank backcountry site. This is about 3 miles in (maybe a bit under) and there's a good sign marking Cutbank and Golden Banner campsite spur trails. There is a good bridge, still intact, over the river here. I headed across a flat area of thinned forest, past a campsite, and started up the steep slope. There is a small bench about partway up. Although initially this slope is very steep, it eases up quickly, and the forest is very thin, with no deadfall.


The forest was easy to navigate, just keep heading up the ridge to treeline. There are meadows and open young forest most of the way up. Eventually some rock outcroppings at treeline come into view. It's about 0.75 mi to treeline.


From treeline, the views open up in all directions. Great views of Ypslion, including Donner and Blitzen ridges, the lakes, Mummy Mountain, Bighorn, and more. The outcroppings can be scrambled on a bit, or bypassed with some gentle tundra walking. The rest of the ridge route to Fairchild is easy to spot and pretty mellow as far as steepness. It's under 2.5 miles from treeline to summit.


This is a view of the ridge with Fairchild Mtn in the background :


I continued to follow the ridge, and got to a rockier section of dark talus on the next ridge bump. Beyond this, the ridge eased up again, before a set of orange-ish talus on the next ridge bump. Although this section of ridge looks fairly flat on the topo map and what looks to be a mellow walk, it's a gauntlet of giant talus with very large gaps between some of them. This is the section where the other southeast ridge route from Lawn Lake joins in. It took longer to navigate up high and the top was more spiny than a flat catwalk of talus. On the descent I stayed a bit lower to avoid the worst of it. The views down to Lawn and Crystal Lakes were great though.

Beyond this section was one last short steep step to easier ground. From afar, the slope looks loose, but it's pretty solid and easier talus than the middle section. Once atop the short steep section, I was on Fairchild's summit dome and it was a short boulder hop to the flat summit area.




Hagues Peak and Crystal Lakes:


Final short steep step below the summit dome :

talus gauntlet:

Looking down on the big talus gauntlet:

gps track:


This was a fun ridge route with great views most of the way. The bushwhack part was really easy due to the thin forest and no deadfall, just pretty steep and sandy down low but that's a short stretch. The steepest part can be bypassed by contouring around a bit up Ypsilon Creek. It was harder on the descent.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
Brian Thomas

RMNP alternate routes
08/05/2014 14:38
Interesting way to go get Fairchild, the bushwhack doesn't sound too bad. Thanks for posting this!


RMNP 13ers = long slogs
08/06/2014 18:02
Nice report and kudos for taking the initiative on an alternate route. I'd like to do Fairchild sometime, but I've been dreading the standard approach via Lawn Lake. I did Hagues Peak and Mummy Mountain that way a couple of years ago and it took me around 13 hours, so anything that
would shave some time off Fairchild is definitely worth a look. Enjoyed the pics as well.

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