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The remote Ypsilon Mountain appeals to those with a sense of adventure. Its massive southeast cirque rises 2,000 feet above the gorgeous Spectacle Lakes to a 13,514-foot summit. Ypsilon feels more wide open than many other peaks in the Park. Its Y-Couloirs split the cirque like the letter Y, with each fork forming a classic, moderate summer alpine route. Climbers ascending the couloirs encounter snow and ice averaging 55 degrees.

Another fantastic route, Blitzen Ridge, climbs the right-hand ridge of the cirque and could well be considered one of the best alpine ridges anywhere. It combines scrambling and exposed climbing along the crest with dramatic views the entire way. Come winter its modest grade feels like something more, given the added challenges of winter conditions and gear.

Most routes descend the Class 3 Donner Ridge, thus traversing the peak. It’s possible to make Ypsilon a one-day outing from the trailhead, but it’s a long, hard day. We typically bivy, which allows for a more reasonable pace and greater enjoyment of this wild portion of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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