Since we had 4WD pickup when we hiked this summit, we had driven east from the summit of the pass a quarter mile or so and then parked along a major ATV track. From there, we began our easy hike over the summit of Napoleon Mountain to the east, passing numerous Old-Man-On-the-Mountain as we strolled through easy tundra with mixed rock.
At the top of Napoleon, (a ranked 12er) drop east for about 550 feet in elevation down some difficult and loose scree and boulder talus. Bleh! There is not any other decent alternative without going far out of the way, so commit to the descent and drop down to the pass between Fitzpatrick and Napoleon. We had searched a road that contoured around the north side of Napoleon, but it would have taken us far away from our destination. As we made our initial drop, we spotted a small group of elk feeding in the early morning hours and also one Ptarmigan with some of its winter white still on.
Once down Napoleon, continue straight up the west slope of Fitzpatrick on an ATV track that goes about 1/3 of the way up the grassy slope, that is covered with emerging summer wildflowers. From Napoleon Pass, it is just under an 1,100 foot gain to reach the summit of Fitzpatrick. Almost all of the ascent is on tundra and grass, except for the final summit ridge, which becomes broken, rocky rubble. It took us 50 minutes to gain that elevation. Arriving at the summit, we found a metal plaque with an inscription dedicated to Erin Gale Allen (Golden Eagle); “Environmentalist, Attorney and Activist.” The plaque indicated that her ashes had been brought here and scattered from this mountain location. She had lived from 1951 – 1992, a much too short life span. Her friends obviously loved her.
From this summit post, you can view a large swath of the southern Sawatch and gaze upon some of the other peaks to the north. When we hiked this summit over July 4 weekend, 2011, there was still plenty of winter snow hanging on the peaks. After a break to take in the view and a few photographs, depart and return by the ascent route back to your waiting vehicle. Other than the scramble back up the 550 feet of rubble on the east slope of Napoleon, the hike back is easy. We spotted yet another Ptarmigan and chased it around trying to get a good photograph. Then we also stopped several times to takes shots of the abundant “Old-Man-on-the-Mountain.” These flowers favor the earlier part of the summer and are abundant in this location.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.