- Date Hiked: August 13,
- Miles Hiked: 12.0
- Elevation Gain: 6,000'
- Hiking Partner(s): Jeff Shafer
- After climbing the Spiral Route on Notchtop Mountain the previous day,
Jeff and I decided to tackle Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain. We
left the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 4:30 and once again made quick work on
the approach to Ypsilon Lake. From the lake, we headed east then
north on a climbers trail to the secluded Spectacle Lakes. We
scrambled back northeast to gain the initially gentle Blitzen Ridge.
You can also gain the base of the ridge by hiking north from Ypsilon
Lake, but I was familiar with the scramble from Ypsilon Lake to
Spectacle Lakes and it is fun with a few class 4 moves.
- We followed Internet information for climbing Blitzen Ridge which is
generally accurate. I led off around the left/south side of the
first ace and thought it was all pretty much class 3 and 4 terrain.
I wasn't sure exactly where to go, so I did start climbing up when I
neared the notch between the first and second ace which was low class 5,
but I'm certain it could have been avoided if I stayed lower. When
I reached the second ace, I radioed back to Jeff and told him to start
simul-climbing. The second ace was the same as the first. I
stayed on the left/south side in 3rd and 4th class climbing until I
neared the notch between the second and third ace where I went up some
low 5th class rock before down-climbing to the notch. Staying low
seemed like it could have kept the climbing to 4th class.
- I gave Jeff a hip belay to the middle notch of the four aces.
Jeff grabbed the rack and started up what seemed like the only real
climbing pitch of the day. He went directly up the third ace to
its summit where he was afraid three ferrets were going to attack him.
Lucky his yelling kept them at bay and he brought me up to his perch.
The line that Jeff took to the summit of the third ace felt like 5.4.
We did one short rappel off the back of the third ace and then did some class 4 down-climbing to get to the notch between the last two
- Jeff put me on belay for the fourth ace which felt like the crux of
the day to us. I basically headed directly right/north as our
information told us, gaining little elevation. The line I took
seemed to have a couple of tricky traverse moves with very thin hands
that felt 5.5/5.6 to me. This initial section out of the notch was
relatively short and once past the thin traverse the climbing turned to
class 4/low class 5. I may have been too high on the initial
traverse as it seemed like there might have been easier ground slightly
below me that may have been the 5.4 route. Similar to our previous
day on Notchtop Mountain, I may have led the few hardest moves of the
day, but Jeff got the best pitch. I brought Jeff over to my anchor
near the north ridge of the 4th ace, and then we were able to scramble
over to the base of the headwall.
- Jeff and I felt like the headwall and ridge to the summit was more
fun than the four aces. The scrambling was sustained 3rd and 4th
class with the initial headwall holding at least a few sections of low
5th class climbing. We kept our rock shoes on for the beginning of
the ridge and then switched over to trail runners once the terrain
seemed to ease mostly to 3rd class. We gained the summit after a
lot of scrambling and were greeted with relatively strong winds on the
- I'm really more of peak bagger/hiker than a rock/ice climber, so
I planned our descent route over the top of neighboring Mount Chiquita
to the south. After we tagged our second 13er for the day, we
descended southeast, then east, back to Chipmunk Lake where we picked up
the Ypsilon Lake trail back to the Lawn Lake Trailhead. It ended
up being a 12.5 hour day car-to-car. Jeff mistakenly left his food
bag with our PA pills in it on the trail after our first break early in
the morning. As a result, we completed the entire day with only
one liter of water each. The descent off Chiquita took its toll on
me and I was pretty wasted that evening.
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map of the area where this hike is located.