Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mummy Mountain via Lawn Lake TH.

Ah, the Mummy Range.  With beautiful alpine cirques surrounded by rugged, high altitude peaks, this is truly a magnificent place in the park.  The range holds four of the ten highest elevation peaks in the park, with three being in the Longs Peak group, and the remainder being near Chiefs Head Peak.  Consider there are no less than eight thirteeners, both ranked and unranked, all in relatively close proximity to each other.  This range also holds Rowe Glacier Lake, which at 13,200 feet of elevation, is the third highest named lake in the United States. 
I set out on Wednesday, December 18th at 540 am.  The solstice is here, but this was close to one of the shortest days of the year.  Several hours of hiking in the dark ensued.  The full moon was the previous day, so a headlamp became optional equipment at times.  I made it to Cutbank ahead of schedule, and arrived at the Lawn Lake/Black Canyon trail intersection right at my planned time. 
Near the Lawn Lake/Black Canyon split. 
The Lawn Lake trail was relatively well broken in- I'd yet to use my snowshoes, but would strap them on shortly after joining the Black Canyon trail, which had seen no traffic. 
Snowshoes were used for maybe 250 paces, before I discovered I could just start directly up the talus on the south side of Mummy Mountain rather than stick to the trail until I reached the saddle as directed.  This is looking west along Mummy Ridge to Hagues Peak.
Looking east as Mummy Ridge was gained.  Conditions were good, though quite windy.  
The view to the southwest was spectacular!  I happened upon a family of Bighorn Sheep on my way up, including kids.  I gave them a wide berth and swung north around them.  They seem to be a rare sighting, as I've only seen them three times while hiking now. 
I don't quite have a photo of the summit.  Here I was nearing it and found a wind block.  As I gained altitude, the wind increased to the point where I was having some trouble standing up. 
Looking south to Longs Peak from the summit of Mummy Mountain, 13425 feet.  Mummy Mountain is the eighth highest peak in RMNP.
Here I am trying to work my camera in mittens.  The summit cairn is visible over my right shoulder.  I rapidly grew quite cold as I sat for a snack. 

Chiquita, Ypsilon, and the eastern slope of Fairchild as seen from Mummy Mountain.
Looking north to Dunraven, 'Dundicking', and Dickinson.
I briefly entertained the idea of heading over to Hagues.  Despite the wind, conditions were good.  But my time estimate would've had me out for fourteen hours, which was simply longer than I wanted to commit to on this day.  In the end, I think the journey over and back would've added on no more than two hours, which would have put me at a 'reasonable' twelve hour day. Should've went for it.
Sunshine and Longs behind Tileston and Bighorn
Here again, Chiquita, Ypsilon, and Fairchild.
A closer up view of Longs Peak and friends.
Sunshine rains through the views to the south.  It really was a spectacular day.
I came upon the family of Bighorn Sheep on the way back down.  They are pretty hard to see until you are close.  They are exactly the same color as the tundra and rock. 
A highpoint on the east ridge of Mummy Mountain.
A very different perspective on Lawn Lake.  I am already looking forward to spending some more time in this area in 2014. 
I made it down fairly quickly, here capturing Fairchild through the trees.
Here is the talus slope I took up and down to Mummy ridge.  It was easy to pick a way up and down over mostly stable rock. 
Back on the trail, I was most of the way to the parking lot before I saw the first and only people I'd see on the day.  But the views didn't quit.
Deer Mountain as seen from the trail.
I made it back to the truck at 340, giving me a ten hour day.  The day increasingly warmed up as I lost elevation, and it was forty degrees when I reached the parking.  And less windy!
I was expecting this one to be more difficult, and it certainly could've been.  The thing that made a big difference was having the trail well broken in.  If conditions were different there, this would've taken considerably more time and effort.  Going up the south east ridge of Mummy Mountain is definitely the way to go in winter conditions.  As my adventure a few weeks ago certainly proved, the area around Lawn Lake holds alot of snow, which certainly makes navigation difficult.  This ascent method cuts out miles of post holing and still allows "easy" access to the peaks of the Mummy Range.
Mummy Mountain (13,425 feet) SE Ridge via Lawn Lake Th:
7.2 miles one way, 4885 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous.

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