Flatiron Mt (12,335') and Desolation Peaks (12,929') - RMNP

26 Aug 2001 - by Steve Blecker

Jim and I decided to head out to one of the more remote areas of RMNP this weekend to climb Flatiron and Desolation, which are northwest of Mt. Ypsilon. We started out from the Corral Creek trailhead near Long Draw reservoir at 6:30am this past Sunday (Aug 26). It was actually nice not to have a route description for a change and just sort of wing it with compass and topo. About 2 miles from the trailhead we crossed Hague Creek, near the Hauge Creek backcountry camp site, and started bushwacking up the long northwest ridge toward Flatiron. With little in the way of undergrowth or downed timber, the going was quite easy as we popped out of the trees around 11,200'. Another gentle mile or so along the tundra saw us on the summit of Flatiron around 9 am. With almost no wind and little cloud buildup, we definitely had weather on our side. The views of the Never Summers, Rawahs, etc. were outstanding.

Continuing on the same ridge, we worked our way over to the the first of the three peaks that make up the Desolation Peaks, which are on a NE/SW trending ridge. Up until this point the hiking was easy tundra. Getting to the second peak required some careful route finding over loose class 2 ledges. An occasional class 3 move was required. We also came across a few well placed cairns. Not finding a register on the summit, we decided to head over to the last peak, which based on the topo map, looked to be the true summit anyway. From a distance, this small jagged peak looked like it might be a challenge, and sure enough it was. From the second peak we did a slow descending traverse (staying fairly high) on the south side of the ridge over more loose ledges (no cairns to help out this time). The scrambling reminded us somewhat of climbing in the Elks, with the loose rock and occasional exposure. We studied the last 20 feet to the summit for about 10 minutes, finally deciding on an airy class 4 route (which was the easiest way up). We found the register (confirming our hunch that this was the true summit of Desolation Peaks). With our signatures, a total of 9 people had signed in this year - an aptly named peak indeed! For the hike out we decided to drop down to Poudre Creek - the bushwacking through the trees was quite a bit more difficult, with plenty of downed timber. We eventually located the Poudre River Trail, near the confluence with Chapin Creek - making it back to the trailhead around 3:30pm. (In hindsight it probably would have been a bit easier to go back the way we came). We figured the total distance was around 12-13 miles, with a total vertical gain around 4,700'. We saw one person the entire day, and that was along the Poudre River trail. The solitude, beautiful weather, and challenge of Desolation Peaks made for a great day!

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