Once Trail Ridge Road opens, skiers and climbers are treated to a few gems which quickly dissolve into summer. Chiquita is one of them.
Located in the Mummy Range, Chiquita sits between Yipsilon and Chapin and is visible from the Alpine Visitor’s center at the top of Trail Ridge Road.
Access to the peak is easiest from Fall River Road, which is opened, then closed, then opened again, so be careful on access. The summer trail provides the most direct access to the Chapin Creek Trailhead at Chapin Pass. You will traverse directly below the summit of Chapin to the summit of Chiquita. It’s a pretty easy stroll, minus some postholing through the trees. We made the approach in trail runners.
From the summit of Chiquita, we skied The Banana Peel, often regarded as a classic line in the park and visible from Trail Ridge Road, which makes scouting fairly easy.
Standing on the summit, there is a ramp to your east which wraps around to the entrance of the line to the south. You will ski a pretty distinct snow field before entering this line. The entrance is lightly corniced and in the 45 degree range. It is skiable. Should this not suit your tastes, there are a few more options to make your way through the rocks to the east.
Once in this line, enjoy. Starting steep, it mellows out the lower you get. There is a slight choke at the bottom, but really nothing to concern yourself about. Let it rip and enjoy the ride.
Now that you’re at the end of the line, the real work begins.
Look to skier’s right and notice a large snowfield which will take you back up to the saddle between Chapin and Chiquita. Be sure to scout this on the way in as the top of it can become very steep, almost too steep to climb in spring snow. If your skills and the conditions allow, this, or climbing back out the Banana Peel , are obvious choices for a speedy exit. If the snow becomes too soft, there is one more option…
Chiquita Creek, which is below you and a bit to skiers left, will drain directly to the continuation of Fall River Road. If you suspect climbing conditions may be difficult, stash a second car at the Lawn Lake trailhead. You can also hike back up the road, or ask a passer by for a ride back up to the Alpine Visitor’s Center.
No matter what you do, prepare yourself for some serious bushwhacking if you take this route. Most of this forest is guarded by a patchwork of beetle kill pine and makes for some serious slow moving. The forest itself, however, is a very beautiful place.
We had heard of folks making their way up this drainage to ski the line, but from our experience, that doesn’t make much sense…