Peak(s):  Ypsilon Mtn  -  13,514 feet
Date Posted:  07/13/2015
Date Climbed:   06/28/2015
Author:  Monster5
 3 Blocks Down, Right on Yippy  

"Unless suicide is the desired outcome, this route should not be climbed in spring or early summer."
-Gillet's RMNP guide.

Guide book authors tend to be entirely too ambiguous nowadays.

Ypsilon Mountain

Date: 6/28/2015
Route: Y Couloir (Right branch - steep snow and rock to 5.4)
Partner: Wayne Herrick
Gear: Axe/tool, crampons, 70 m skinny, light rack (extra smalls)
Stats: 13 mi/5K ft. Ish.
Time: 8 hrs up and 3 hrs down. Sounds like winter splits.

Two thirty AM.
Speech. If you speak to me, I hate you. If you hike a tad too fast, I also hate you. If you take a break to shed a jacket two minutes from the car, I somewhat hate you. Hike too slow, I'll leave you to the mountain lions. It's a relative scale, of course. All's fair at two thirty AM.

Except for a raging stream crossing just past the signed left junction to Ypsilon Lake a half hour up the trail. We try the crossing 50 ft down from the washed out bridge.


An unruly body of water was once allegedly whipped, shackled, and branded by a Persian King of Kings.
At 9 AM, this is a reasonable. At 3 AM, it seems excessive.
So upstream a couple hundred feet we go until a couple solid log crossings are available. The trail is cruiser until Ypsilon Lake.

This part gets confusing, so let's switch style a bit:
Once at the lake, cross the first stream and a small bridge and look left prior to crossing the second, larger stream. A faint, steep, log-strewn trail switchbacks up on the left side of the stream. Take the left. Straight leads to a mountain lion. Climbers go left; small and obnoxious children go straight.

Once the faint trail flattens, cross the stream at an obvious plank and follow the trail to the 3rd class gully up to Spectacle Lakes. The cairned trail crosses the creek feeding from Spectacle a couple times and jogs left for a bit near the middle. One might encounter a bit of slab and perhaps a 4th class move, depending on route finding, prior to reaching the basin. At the basin, work up the left side of the lakes until hitting the base of the Y. Early on, the cairns briefly cross the lake outlet for the easiest passage. Business over.

Entirely too much work.

Ypsilon's ahead. Christmas on the mind and reindeer take point. The famed Blitzen Ridge is on right and Donner Ridge is on left. Prancer Ridge is center and the left branch of the Y Couloir tops out at center behind Prancer. The right branch is on right with a constriction. A number of adventurous moderate alpine routes split the faces in between. Setup shop, spend the week, and climb away.

The Y Couloirs are well known for their cornices.

Wait for 'em to drop.

Hop hop hop. Wayne's a smart man. He ditched the mountaineering boots for comfort a few hundred couloirs ago. I plod along. Plod plod plod. Toes are sore, feet are sore, eyes are shot, ropes are heavy, life is just entirely too difficult.

Wake up. Quit whining.

The direct route up the apron has a couple bare spots with snow replaced by waterfalls and a randkluft. Could've taken a ramp from the left to start. Direct goes though. 4th class and wet.

Another step and it's down about 20 ft into a cold wet home

Is this how you front point?

Up the couly a few hundred feet to the junction. I like Wayne. He kicks steps and doesn't care about switching.

Look at that runnel.

I might have this wrong, but the Right branch goes right and the Left left. Let go of the axe and use your hands. Righty tighty, lefty loosey. Got it.

Up a few hundred more feet. Duck right to stay out of the fall line.

Is it in?

Nope. Harder than it looks. No pro, bad ice, bad fall, no feet - unless you can stem 5 foot-wide walls of the wet and featureless variety.

Turn around; here's your key.

One last look. Couple weeks early or wait til Fall.

Could've roped on the snow, but we have a feeling there's a cornice up there. Almost forgot about that. Out comes the rope and we anchor off the existing nut and piton. Bomber alpine anchor. Sort of. Might want to place a piece quick. Turn the corner, traverse a couple moves, work up and then hook a left to the face. You've gone maybe 40 ft with a move or two of 5.4, but the drag will stop you.

Thought I'd go light. TCU's, half set C4s from 0.3 (better than a yellow mastercam) to 1, and a half set of nuts. Mistake. Another pound might've cost me 30 seconds, but finding an anchor for my remaining TCU, runners, and a couple nuts cost me a good 10 minutes of wandering around. Wayne cruises on up and we re-flake.

The next pitch is around 190 ft straight up following the path of least resistance. A lot of scrambling mixed with a few low fifth spots. I've learned my lesson. Always bring 2 - 0.3s. Make it 3. For now, run it out. 5.easy. Save pro for the anchor.

This anchor's on a grassy ledge. Always appreciated. Thanks, Santa.

Follow the ledge right back into the fun. The snow is waiting for you. Nice and cozy, maybe in the 50s, and even a spot of alpine ice. A few hundred feet, hugging the left wall in case Ol' St. Nick decides to ditch the presents.

Wouldn't want to glissade down that. There's a cliff.

We could escape left, but I've cleverly and covertly decided to catch my breath just now. Wayne, you're up. Not a problem. He knows his stuff. Cross and exit right. Dig for holds.

Hey baby. What's your number?

Little bit of excavation required. Steep, but mostly chimney and then good snow.

Easier if you've got steps.

The summit is just to the right, not a dozen feet higher. About as direct as it gets. A few bites to eat and we're good to go. Talus hop on down towards Chiquita. Avoid the terrifying cornice ready to cut loose above Left Yippy. Say hi to the friendly out-of-towners.

A few good snow lines lead down to the basin between Donner Ridge and Chiquita. We're lazy and drop one early.

Chase the elk, follow their path. They descend the left/north side of the valley. Sounds good. Bit of snow, minor bushwack, connect to the trail at the base of the Spectacle Lakes drainage.

A good 5 mile trail stroll out, make sure to pick up the ascending trail at Ypsilon Lake. Pass Kendrick Callaway or Anton Krupicka on their way up. Nobody can tell the difference.

Yes, Life is Good.
Sleep not necessary.
Let's do it again tomorrow.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

no timestamps?
07/13/2015 23:01
Ryan, you the man. This is awesome! Well done. Let me know when I can get you and Steph those Capri Suns. Great to see you again the other night dude.


What does early summer even mean?
07/14/2015 06:03
Useful beta AND wry humor: the perfect accompaniment to a workday breakfast. Excellent report, and +3000 points to Wayne for rocking the shorts/gaiters combo!

Brian Thomas

07/14/2015 07:19
Is how a trip report should be written. Engaging, entertaining, informative. Brilliant work, sir.


What Brian said...
07/14/2015 07:33


As always...
07/14/2015 08:54
As always, thank you for the informative and entertaining report. You know the gems and don’t hesitate to go out and give em a try!

Dave B

Better than a yellow mastercam?!?!?
07/14/2015 09:51
That’s just crazy talk. Lil’ yeller is my bestest friend, second only to Captain Orange.

Again, nice climb. I always wondered about this route and the suicide warnings from Gillet has always kept fear higher than interest. Way to get it done!

I’m curious what you’re using for your skinny rope. Been thinking about picking up a single strand of a double set in the 8.5 range for an alpine rope but the Beal Opera may be worth the extra expense to have the single strand rating.


Nicely done dude!
07/14/2015 09:28
You said both cornices were grande the other night, but damn man, way to get after it. And I agree, great writing style!!


07/14/2015 11:28
For the comments, minus the mastercam blasphemy! Good to see you guys the other night, Rick and Dillon. Not much beta on this one so thought I’d throw it up. I know Dan is cruising through the climbing progression fairly quickly.

Dave – I have 5 main alpine systems.

–70m half ropes (bluewater excellence 8.4 mm purchased on sale with ColoradoCrackGear’s closing). I wanted halves for the alpine bail, versatility, and emergency factor. Not terribly efficient with these yet, but I have no complaints. I brought one for this route since it was lower angle 5.4 (to 5.7, depending on routefinding) and I read a 70m is enough to rap the constriction in the case of an emergency/bail.

–Edelweiss 9.2, about 50 m after having to cut it a couple years ago. I’ve used this one extensively. Surprisingly durable for an Edelweiss (I generally think the brand is crap). I use my canyoneering 6mm pull cord with it. The pull cord is light enough for my gf to carry.

–PMI 60 m 8.9mm Erratic, picked up at the Alpine Rescue Team fundraiser in Evergreen a couple weeks back. I used it this past weekend in RMNP and thus far I’ve been fairly impressed – handles very well. My only gripe is that the rope almost glides too smoothly and can get annoying.

–Sterling 30 m 8.2 mm orange twin/half. Bought because all of my partners had the 30 m edelweiss purple. I wanted contrast and like Sterling.

–Edelweiss 30 m 8.9 single. It was cheep and single rated.


strong work
07/14/2015 13:08
very cool guys. crazy that theres a piton there. imagine it would be the belay for the direct snow or your bypass.

like the TR title

No I’m not f**king Kendrick....


07/14/2015 15:48
Nice climb dude.


07/15/2015 09:18
...I like your style better


07/15/2015 23:13
for the comments from a couple more excellent TR writers.

Abe – kind of expected you to look up a blog or check your notes and tell me which bearded Jesus–lookalike it was.


Great report!
07/21/2015 09:12
randkluft – now there is a word you don’t hear everyday. Had to look that one up.

Wikipedia: "It is formed by the melting of ice against warmer rock and may be very deep...A randkluft is similar to, but not identical with, a bergschrund, which is the place on a high–altitude glacier where the moving ice stream breaks away from the static ice frozen to the rock creating a large crevasse. Unlike a randkluft, a bergschrund has two ice walls."

Learned something new today. I thought randklufts were bergschrunds. Also found out that they both exist in the "Zone of Plucking", hah! That made me laugh.

Love the report!

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