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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-09-17||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Standard route is snow-free if you go up and over K2. Stayed on the ridge proper from K2 to the summit to lessen rockfall danger, which entails much more class 4. Aspens in the area are changing, some groves were at peak up high, but the classic valley shot from the TH should be peak in 7-10 days.
|Cool Hand Luke||2014-09-18||3||6||2|
|2014-09-13||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: If you climb within a few days of this report, you will see a snow dusting on the north face of the mountain, including some snow on K2. On the standard route, you won‘t encounter snow until K2 (as per today). The east face has no snow. The north face has some snow on the NW portion, however the NE portion/ridge of K2 has less snow. I climbed down K2 (and up coming back) on the NE ridge of K2 mentioned. The knife edge is clear. Almost all of the lower route to the summit is clear of snow. There are some small patches under rocks and in the shade which are avoidable if the climber wishes. I brought microspikes, but did not need or use them. A guide who has summited Capitol 15 times, (and myself), both advise that you climb to the top of K2, and down the right (N) side where there is less snow, as opposed to traversing around K2. There is some snow on the lower areas of K2 right now, and when there isn‘t, the rock is apparently a lot more loose and unstable on the traverse route.
|2014-09-03||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Ideal climbing conditions Wednesday. The recent snow on the route is almost completely gone. Very small patches of new snow are avoidable. Microspikes/cramp-ons not necessary IMO. One exception, we chose to go up and over K2 because the traverse skirting K2s north side had a little snow and mud.
|2014-08-10||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Excellent conditions TH to Capitol Lake. Camping sites 1-6 were available. Ranger dude visited and pointed out the dispersed camping area that was below sites 1-6. Told us the sites 1-6 were for smaller groups and for larger groups, they should stay below. Our group was size was 6, so all good. Standard route straightforward. Snow is pretty much gone and spots can be avoided. No need for micro-spikes or ice axe. Quite a few folks doing Capitol these days. First time on the steep switchbacks after crossing over the saddle and continuing another 100 yards. Drops you into a gully which you cross and then up-climb the next tiny gully to regain the trail and continue your traverse below the ridge until you get to the big boulders. Carins seem to be pretty well placed all along the trail. Tons of wildflowers.
|2014-07-26||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Road from horse trailer parking to TH especially rugged and does require a high clearance vehicle due to large rocks and sharp bumps. Saw someone had made it to the TH in a Subaru Impreza so you won‘t need a modded Jeep or a Rally truck to get there! Trail clear to just after the K2-Daly saddle. Three or four snow patches that were bulletproof in the early morning on the talus slopes before K2; largest snowfield is easily avoidable by staying high on the talus/boulders below the ridgeline. Remainder of climb clear of snow to the summit. Perfect!
|2014-07-17||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: NE Ridge route still with large snowfield on the ascent to K2 and several smaller snowfields on the traverse from the Mount Daly saddle. An ice axe was necessary for safety to traverse the snowfields. Crampons would have sped the ascent to K2 as the early morning snow was good, but are not necessary. Several climbers stayed high on the Capitol-K2-Daly ridge with no snow equipment.
|2014-07-08||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Still a good patch of snow once over the saddle that needs to be traversed. There is also a big patch of snow that is on the path up to K2. You could probably go under it, but would have to contend with big exposure. Being inexperienced with crampons and snow travel, we turned around before traversing all the way over. The snow was in ok shape but it was still very early and probably would soften up considerably.
|Bill E Goat||2014-07-11||0|
|2014-07-06||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: There was minimal snow up to capitol lake. There was some snow over the drainage stream that runs down the trail right near the camping spots (1-5), and some snow near old avalanche paths lower down but thats about it for the hike in. There was a snow patch on the slope up to the saddle, but that could be easily managed, I don‘t expect that it‘s going to last too much longer. Once you get up to the Saddle though, you‘ll see there is still a ton of snow in the talus field on the other side. An Ice Axe made for pretty quick traveling over this stuff though, and beats hopping across rocks. The snow was still pretty firm early on the morning. Due to some snow still high up on K2, it didn‘t seem very safe to traverse around the peak, and we ended up going up and over it. The decent down the North side was little exposed but doable if your comfortable with some moderate class 4 moves. Once you gain the main ridge to Capitol, it‘s pretty smooth sailing up until about 13,900‘ where there were some small bands of snow covering what I believe was the main trail up to the peak. We ended up just staying high and taking the main ridge all the way up where we could. Heading back down, the glissading was phenomenal, as the snow had softened up to nice consistency by 11am
|2014-06-21||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Friday(6/20/14) hiked up to Capitol Lake to give Cap a try. The trail was dry until around 10,550(about a mile past the creek crossing), then there are series avalanche paths and snow in the trees. From the gate on there are numerous ares of downed trees blocking the trail. At the switchbacks(which we never saw) there was the usual post-hole hell. After that incline there was snow on and off until the last creek crossing where it was continuous snow until the camp sites. Sites 1,2,3,8 were completely clear of snow, however the marmots are awake and ready to eat your stuff. The Capitol Lake area is completely snowed in... Saturday morning we woke up at 2 but weren‘t able to get moving until 4:15! We were able to climb straight from site 1 to half way up the switches back and the take the dry trail to the saddle where we put crampons on for the remainder of the climb until past K2. The snow in the morning was bullet proof, but accepted the ax very well, there was of course continuous snow from the saddle to K2. There was a nice snow ramp direct from ridge to the summit of K2, which made for an easy ascent. The down-climb on the back of K2 was dry, I left my sunglasses on the backside, your welcome to them if you find them. After the down climb there was continuous snow until the last gendarme/pinnacle thingy before the knife edge. It was 7:45 by this point and the snow was already starting to soften up. So, I chickened out and my two partners were not willing continue on either( I am sure they would have continued if I hadn‘t wussed out) . On the traverse back many fine glissades were to be had. However, the snow had already softened up: the top 1-2" of snow was complete crap over a hard bulletproof layer. We had several self arrest events which definitely did not increase the fun factor. The return was about the same, two of us glissaded a slope down the switchbacks and the third quickly post holed his way out. Two of us brought snowshoes and did not find they were worth the calories... Shot me a email if you‘d like full sized photos of the face. Also of note: nasty cornice on K2
|2014-03-14||Route: Northeast Ridge Direct from Moon Lake
Info: A group of 4 of us climbed Capitol Peak on Friday March 14th via the NE Ridge direct. The first 2 miles of trail are on a groomed dogsled track and then it turns into the basin, which can be difficult to find. Trench all the way to K2. There is a tremendous amount of snow in the area but the slopes in the upper basin seemed stable. Gaining K2 involves an exposed 4th class section and it never relents after that. The initial ridge and knife edge are heavily corniced and require some absurdly exposed trickery. Most of upper ridge is a sniw climb, with some 5th class sections. We simulclimbed the entire ridge using a basic alpine rack. Conditions are very challenging but favorable. Get it! (No pics yet)
|2013-12-31||Route: Northeast Ridge Via Moon Lake/West Snowmass Creek
Info: My brother and I did Capitol in a three day trip 12/30-1/1. We used the winter route: parked on Snowmass Creek Road, entered Maroon-Snowmass TH #1975, cut off to West Snowmass Creek, camped just below Moon Lake, climbed K2 East face, traversed to Cappy. The road is closed in the normal winter spot (0.7 miles below the trailhead). We snowshoed a pretty good trench all the way up. I would guess below timberline it should last a bit. We followed ski tracks as best we could and took a pretty good line. Crossing Snowmass Creek to get to West Snowmass Creek involved just walking through a wide shallow section of the creek--only a few inches deep. At 9,000 ft we did some bushwhacking. Kudos if you can find the trail through there. After that we were mostly on trail. Just below Moon Lake and those close lower ponds we found it best to stay to the SE of the trees, so we camped at the base of the East slope below Moon Lake. But based on our experience re-breaking trail on the hike out I‘m sure our tracks have disappeared well below Moon Lake. Be wary of the snow on K2. You are forced to cross avalanche terrain a number of times. The snow on the NE Capitol/K2 ridge was very powdery. I would recommend staying on the ridge proper as much as possible. We tried to traverse across the south side of the that huge North-leaning fin and it was impossible. We ended up spending half an hour wading through and shoveling powder just to get back up to the ridge. The "fin" feature I am talking about is pictured in the photo of Chris rapping down, but it applies everywhere on the ridge. We did four raps: one down K2 to the ridge, the other three on the way back to K2 from Cappy. My advice would be to bring a 30m rope and 5+ quick links on big slings. The climbing isn‘t so bad (depending on your comfort level) so I wouldn‘t even think about bringing any pro for going up, but the raps in a few spots were life savers. If you want gpx or kmz files from our route leave a comment.
|2013-09-21||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Beautiful day on Capitol. That could very well change today though. The only patch of snow on the route was the ledge going under K2. On our hike in we talked to many people who turned around because of this, but if you are comfortable climbing up and over K2 then you‘re good to go. Large rock slide on the south side of the peak occurred around noon. Be careful, watch your steps, and watch the weather. We had cloud cover the entire day but nothing was producing anything close to storm clouds. If you‘d like any pictures, PM me. I did grab a shot of the snow patch under K2
|2013-07-02||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: The trail is snow free all the way up the saddle. There is still a good snowcover in the bowl and the slope leading up to K2 but most people I climbed with were barebooting. It‘s possible to stick to the tallus and avoid the snow mostly or kickstep your way up to K2, however I found walking with microspikes or crampons on stable snow in the morning more enjoyable. The snow ends 300 yards from K2. K2 is mostly free of snow. There is still a small snow band on the side, but it‘s basically summer conditions. Likewise the ridge and the summit are free of snow.
Info: Climbed Snowmass Mountain yesterday (6/22) and got a peak at Capitol. Here‘s a conditions photo.
Info: Nate (TheGreatCamillo) and I summited Capitol Saturday morning. We had pretty awesome weather, and I suspect that there has been some substantial melting since theuglybear‘s update from a week ago. The steam crossing wasn‘t too bad. we opted to take our boots off and cross barefoot but we witnessed some other guys crossing a bit upstream of the trail so there might be a better way. There was a fair amount of snow to the lake but post-holing wasn‘t a major issue for us. We didn‘t take snowshoes. We opted to hike through the night, which made the snow on capitol, K2 and the ridge somewhat manageable, but there was still enough snow so as to make it unavoidable. We found the crux of the route to be K2. There was a lot of snow on K2 and there didn‘t seem to be a way around it. Eventually we descended and went around to the right on sketchy and very loose rock which was a HUGE bummer. On our return we found a line that went up and over K2 which was much better and my recommendation for anybody making an attempt in the near term. Shout out to Shawn (sp?) who we met at the trailhead and made a valiant effort to solo the peak a few hours behind us. He also hooked us up with some TH beers when we got back which was incredibly cool. Also - to the two guys who were heading up on Saturday - hopefully you guys made it!
|2013-06-07||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: Made an attempt on Capitol on 6/7. Plenty of post holing on the approach, beginning at about 11,000‘. Mostly full snow coverage above chasm. Ridge a mix of steep snow and exposed rock. Warm temps had the snow turning to slush by 7:30, and we turned around at K2. You‘ll need colder temps or bigger balls to climb this right now.
|2013-03-30||Route: Snowmass Creek to Moon to K2
Info: No Easter bunnies in the Elks! My buddy and I attempted a day trip for Cap on Sat and got close, but no cigar. Departed winter Snowmass Crk TH at 3:15am, eventually found Ryan‘s snowshoe tracks from two weeks ago (thx Ryan, huge help in route finding!) and we plodded up. I can‘t remember the exact sequence of times and events, but the scenery was stunning up there. Daly is plastered in snow, lots of wet sloughs were evident. Made it to Moon Lake around 10? After working up higher to 13,300 and getting K2 summit in view, we took a break and melted some water to refuel the nalgenes and give my puppy a break. I ended up digging the pup a small bed area and tied him up to wait out the rest of our attempt. We then headed up and got below the K2 crux and took off our skis. My buddy felt nauseous and dizzy, so after trying to shake it, we eventually called it quits. I climbed to the summit of K2 (sketchy little move in the winter) to get some views of Cap and it was gorgeous. Well covered. Would have been a hard climb via the ridge, not sure if we had the energy to pull it off, but maybe next time. The reward of the day was the beautiful turns down a few thousand feet of vert! The punishment was the slog out thru the gloppy snow and twisting forest. We were happy to be at the truck by 6pm and in Carbondale for pizza shortly thereafter. Good times.
|2013-03-17||Route: Snowmass Appraoch
Info: Kyle (letsgocu) and I attempted Capitol Peak from the standard Snowmass Approach this last weekend. I wanted Capitol in Winter bad but between working every other weekend, getting sick, bad weather, and just life in general it seemed like the timing was never right. What began as a great forecast early last week slowly turned to garbage as we got closer and closer to the weekend. I talked to a meteorologist friend of mine all through the week. He said yea it looks like light snow Saturday night but you might have a “weather window” to sneak up Sunday morning before another storm hits while you are descending. That was all the push we needed to make a decision to go for it. Still with the forecast Kyle figured our chances of actually summiting with the bad weather were about 1 in 5 still you never know unless you try. Any day in the mountains beats sitting at home doing nothing on the weekend. We drove up and camped at the road closer to the Snowmass Trailhead on Friday night. We wanted to get up early because we figured with the recent heat the area received and the colder temperatures that arrived our chances of post holing would be a lot less. We got about 1.3 miles in on snowmobile tracks and then the post holing hell that is the Capitol Winter approach began. I was constantly reading the few Winter Capitol trip reports out there and it seemed like the approach varied from 6 to 8 hours to Moon Lake. Even one group summited in 9 hours from the trailhead. But it ended up taking us 10 hours of posthole hell to reach Moon Lake and Kyle is one of if not the fastest/strongest people I have ever hiked with. We took turns plowing trail about every 20 minutes or so. Around 10,500 is where things began to get sketchy the overcast skies began to snow on us pretty heavily and many of the slopes we could see were very concerning avy wise especially since here is where things started to get steep We finally reached our camp sight just below Moon Lake in an area we felt was a little more protected. We dug in and set up camp. Although the day was completely exhausting we still felt somewhat confident we could summit if we had our “weather window” Sunday morning our friend was talking about. It was a cold night. I was mostly concerned about my boots, which had basically frozen over night. We got up about 3:30 an spent almost 2 hours getting ready most of that boiling water and putting hot nalgene bottles in our boots then into our sleeping bags to help thaw them out. We got up out of the tent to partly cloudy skies with no wind and could even see a few stars. At the time we thought wow my weatherman friend called it just right for us. At that moment we were confident we could pull this off. Of course no sooner had we started than it began to snow . . . heavily . . . with wind. We slowly plodded our way up. The slopes that we heard were supposed to be mostly wind blown and perfect for crampons . . . .well they weren’t. We continued to post hole in snowshoes. We traversed several more sketchy sections. Right where picture 4 was taken I began to get this real bad feeling. The slopes that were already heavily loaded were getting dumped on. I knew we were in trouble when at one point Kyle was 30 yards in front and I was trying to follow his tracks and by the time I reached them they were half filled in with snow. We were both feeling strong and figured we could probably make it but how dangerous would the slopes be 6 hours later if the snow kept dumping like this. Also, how bad would the weather be up high on the technical and exposed terrain. We still have plenty of bad slopes below us to go down that are getting dumped on right now. We got to the top of the slope in photo four and made the smart call to turn around. We were right at 13,000ft. We made it back to camp without an issue noticed the tent looked a lot smaller as we approached it well that because it was half buried under what we estimated an additional 8 to 10 inches of snow. We had been gone only about 4 hours! Just as we got in the tent the storm picked up even more. We spent about an 1.5 hours in the tent rethawing our boots, melting more water, and eating as the storm raged outside. I liked the idea of being warm but I knew the longer we waited the more snow would accumulate. There were several slopes I was worried about between where out tent was at Moon Lake at 11,700ft to where things kind of flattened out around 10,500ft. We were very cautious on the way down but still I manage to trigger a small slide right in front of me. I saw it happen and thought wow that collapsed so easy and you couldn’t even tell it was coming. Pucker factor of 10 right here. We stayed close to the trees and after a few more hairy moves we were down to a lot safer ground. We were able to make out the outline of our track and tried to follow that out but still managed to post hole in our old tracks about half the time on the way out. Talk about exhausting. 6 hours after leaving camp we were thankfully back at the car. We really pushed it on this climb but working together kept a good eye on each other to make sure we were as safe as we could be. It was still a great day in the mountains and even more so a great learning experience . Funny part about this whole trip was as soon as we got back into cell phone range I got a message from my meteorologist friend sent on Saturday saying “It looks like the storm for Sunday has sped up and will be there Sunday morning instead of Sunday making it impossible to summit Sunday. Id cancel your trip.” On the bright side I made the joke to Kyle that even though we didn’t summit we both set a new personal record for the highest altitude we have ever continuously post holed in snow shoes at . . 13,000ft. Picture 1: This about sums up our weekend. Here is a photo of me post holing to my waist with a 55lb pack on. Good times Picture 2: Kyle heading up a scary loaded slope. We did this one at a time and traversed far right to stay close to the trees. If you look closely you can see cornices at the top left of the slope. Picture 3: Photo of me Sunday morning. So yea the weather was bad. Picture 4: The last slope. We made it to the top section just above the rocks to the right before we called it. It was right here where I began to get a bad feeling.
|2013-01-22||Route: West Snowmass Creek
Info: We put in a minor attempt on Capitol via West Snowmass Creek Trail (Moon Lake approach), I stress minor as the trail breaking was quite arduous especially with heavy packs…We were going nowhere fast. The trench warfare ceased @ roughly 10,400’, approximately 4.5 miles from TH. Feel free to poach the trench, and push the trench to Moon Lake. Don’t follow the trail @ the open meadow that traverses into the aspen grove use the meadow trench.
|2012-09-23||Route: Northeast Ridge from Capitol Lake
Info: My wife and I climbed Capitol on 9.23.12. Crux of the route was getting around K2, several snowy spots to negotiate. We took the middle option to get around, looked like snow would be encountered on any of the options shown in the route description. There were light flurries on the way down but didn‘t look like too much new accumulation. No real snow on any other part of the route.