Return to Capitol

Posted on July 28, 2010

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Capitol Reflection

Two years ago, after skiing off the summit of Quandary Peak, I began my “Summer of 14er Fever,” with the crux being an ascent of Capitol Peak with my brother Steve. A couple of weeks ago, Chris expressed desire to doing Capitol, and I thought it would be a perfect warm-up for my summer of 14er traverses. I invited my buddy John (who had climbed Longs with me two years ago as a warm-up for Capitol), whom we met with at 3:30am in the Factory Surplus parking lot in Glenwood.

Armed with my awesome Mammut TR-1 Headlamp, we started hiking just early of 4:30am alongside Capitol Creek, which is arguably a cow ranch right now (my vote is for the owner of these cows to collar them all with bells to give it a Swiss feel).

Cows and Capitol in the early morning light.

We arrived at Capitol Lake just before the sun burnt off the early morning clouds. When the clouds were still there, however, they made for one of the best lake reflections of anything I have ever personally witnessed.

The boys just before Capitol Lake

Once the sun broke up the reflection, we quickly make our way up Daly Pass, slapped on brain buckets, and began the fun part.

John getting started with the scramble, Chris looks on.

We made quick work of the initial traverse from Daly Pass and the following rock field, and began our ascent of the sub-peak K2.

Myself with K2 and the summit of Capitol behind. Photo: John

Atop K2, I got my second glimpse of the route’s crux, the infamous Knife Edge. It looked just like it did last time, and John and Chris wasted no time getting down to business on it (I let them take the honors since I had been here before).

Chris evaluates the Knife Edge from K2

Chris getting started on the Knife Edge

And John following.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize about this route is that the scramble after the knife edge is loose, steep, exposed, and confusing, as Chris demonstrates here:

Chris with a lot of air below him.

We wrapped around the summit and ascended the final ridge for what would be my most intense 14er repeat (a sensation that lasted only one day).

John and Chris on the final ridge

The three of us on the summit of Capitol

Chris enjoying the summit

We started making our way down, careful on the loose rock but enjoying the views nonetheless.

John lives on the edge

Back over the Knife Edge, we got a little stuck in the same section that gave Steve and I some trouble two years ago, but before we knew it we were off the rocks and in some beautiful wildflowers.

John in the midsts of a color explosion

The day lasted 14 hours, and we made our way into Aspen for some dinner at La Cantina (a current favorite). John returned to Glenwood, while Chris and I unrolled our sleeping pads in the Maroon Bells overnight lot for another long adventure the following day…

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