Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Post Date:  06/14/2011
Date Climbed:   06/11/2011
Posted By:  Bean

 How Carl punched a rabbit in the face   

Just a few short days ago, Marc, Carl, and I were joyously recovering at Fatbelly Burgers in Carbondale. We were there two weeks prior, but with a more somber mood. Maybe it’s because Carl punched a rabbit in the face, but I think the biggest change was that we had just skied Colorado’s hardest 14er, and didn’t have to go back and take our chances there with snow and the weather (unless of course, we want to for some crazy reason).

I know the biggest question you’ve all got – how in the world did Carl end up punching a rabbit in the face? Well, I’ll tell you. We left Golden mid-afternoon on Friday afternoon and made our way to Glenwood Springs for dinner. Dinner #1 was burritos; Marc and I picked up a set of sandwiches for dinner #2 at camp.

Shortly after 7pm, we were on our way in to the Maroon Bells Wilderness once again.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

A few miles later – just before dark – we had to make our first creek crossing of the trip. It was cold.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We were able to hike in shoes for about four miles until coming to a veritable wall of snow at 10,000′. By far the cleanest dry/snow transition I’ve ever come across. Two miles later we called it a night at 11,000′, set up camp, ate dinner, and crawled in to our bags. It was ten after eleven, with alarms set for one in the morning.

Just as we were drifting off, Carl and I hear Marc shouting that something just ran across his bivy bag. “What? What is it?!” was the response from Carl. No response. It was then that a large dark shape appeared at the edge of the vestibule of our tent. It was either a smaller animal, or – more likely, to us anyway – the foot of something much larger. Carl yelled, trying to scare it away. We were all wide awake at this point, hopes for a good night of sleep long gone. Marc yelled that it was rabbits, and next time the dark shape came around, it came in the vestibule and pushed up against the mesh of the tent. A few rounds of this and we pulled our packs in to the tent, as if it weren’t already cramped. It kept coming back, so Carl lined up his fist, waited for the right moment, and got it right in the nose. It stopped bothering him at that point (instead choosing to come around to my side of the tent). And that’s the story of how Carl punched a rabbit in the face.

It’s not really relevant to that story, but we all took quite a few photos of what we did the next morning, so I’ll share that too. I’m not sure how well everyone else slept, but I was lucky if I got more than 15 minutes.

We were up and moving for Capitol by about 1:30, and at the Daly saddle before 3am. As I was taking a break, Carl came up saying he found a ski buckle. I checked my boot, and found that I’d lost an important buckle, despite a recent tightening. I tested buckling everything down and decided that it wouldn’t affect my skiing enough to make the descent unsafe, and we continued on.

A couple hours later we found ourselves at K2, switched over to crampons and axes, and got to work.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We were lucky to have great snow conditions. It’s still super-fat back there, and it was perfectly cramponable.

Sunrise was gorgeous (as it tends to be from well-above treeline).

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

I told Carl to hold on, because I had an idea for a photo he was going to like. I was right.

We saw occasional flashes of light from the direction of Snowmass, and were actually concerned about getting weathered off at 5:30 in the morning, which would’ve been ridiculous. Fortunately things cleared out, just making things beautiful for sunrise.

We cruised on the route, thanks to the absolutely perfect snow conditions.

We were on top only an hour and a half after leaving K2.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We had time for some summit shots, snacks, relaxation, and boot repair, as we waited quite a while for the snow to soften.

(size=1)Photo by Marc Barella

I was able to use a ski strap to sort-of replace my missing buckle. It wasn’t ideal but it’d have to do.

At one point, Marc almost became the first person to have a ghost-ridden snowboard descent of Capitol. It slid down out of sight, tumbled a few times, and then…silence. Marc angrily yelled about it for a moment before Carl and I saw that it had stopped on a ledge about 20′ down. One more bounce and that would’ve been about 2,000′, and Marc would not have been the second to snowboard from the summit of Capitol Peak. After that round of excitement, we made our final preparations and got heading down.

It wasn’t that far back to the Secret Chute, but it certainly felt like it.

It was time to go.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

The choke would likely have been a bit easier a couple weeks ago, as it was now rather thin and rocky. No problem though, and Marc put on quite a show getting through it.

Things got a little easier from that point on.

We weren’t out of danger, but the worst was behind us.

All that was left was to traverse back over to the Secret Chute.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We all let out a big sigh of relief once we got there.

I’m guessing that Carl made the first switch-rappel descent of the Secret Chute in history.

Marc and I decided to do things a little more traditionally at this point.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We traversed over to the base of the One-in-a-Million Couloir and got ready to boot up 600′ to get out of Pierre Lakes Basin. The view of our line from here was amazing.

45 minutes later we were up, and made some calls to let people know that we were out of any major danger.

We buzzed back over to the Daly saddle, thrilled to have Capitol behind us.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

We skied back to camp, packed up, made our way back to our shoes, and slogged out the last four miles to the car.

(size=1)Photo by Carl Dowdy

The water was still cold.

  • Comments or Questions

The white rabbit...     06/14/2011 15:17
Derek and I bivied at the base of Yale's east ridge a little while back. A white rabbit circled our bivy site through the evening. And then something walked over my bivy three times in the night. The third time I slipped my hand underneath it and pushed up as hard as I could. It didn't come back after that.

Anyhow, great job guys. I'll probably never ski mountaineer or climb Capitol in such conditions but I can certainly appreciate what you accomplished and enjoyed the fantastic report.


Congrats!     06/14/2011 14:14
Incredible trip report!


Nice job!     06/14/2011 14:14
wonder how many years will pass before another June descent.


Sweet Fancy Moses!!!     06/14/2011 14:20
Wow... some of those pics of the early traversing got my heart rate up just sitting at my desk! Great work guys!!!


awesome!     06/14/2011 14:37
I knew you would get it this year. Coverage is pretty amazing up there considering it's mid June now. Amazing pictures too, congrats!


Looking at the line     06/14/2011 15:08
From Snowmass on Sunday, I wondered if anyone went for it. You guys were likely suspects. Way to go.

Heel side again?!?


Nice     06/14/2011 15:36
Great job, guys! Fantastic photos - especially the one of Carl, K2 and that beautiful sunrise. Nice. And that bottomless one of Marc riding toes-in.

And glad Marc didn't have to walk down.

Jesse Peterson

sweet TR     06/14/2011 16:09
Nice work, dudes. Those sunrise photos are unreal.


Thanks...     06/14/2011 16:17
for the comments. Was a really fun climb and a rewarding ski. Jordan, thanks for the beta. Marc & Mike, thanks for making a strong team. For the record, I gave that rabbit plenty of warning before I clocked him (or her). And as you could tell, Marc was heel side too, which allowed him to enjoy the view.


AMAZING!     06/14/2011 16:16
That sunrise looked incredible. Well done on the climb!


Hats off to all of you!     06/14/2011 16:22
Looks like it was a great trip all around. Way to get the toughest couple done this spring. Carl, you're nearly there buddy!

P.s. Marc's not only the second to board Cap, but he is undoubtedly the first to board cap wearing plastic Koflac mountaineering boots in strap down bindings. Still don't know how you do it man!


Hair Raising!     06/14/2011 17:25
I could feel my pulse elevate while reading, great accomplishment!


Way to whack the wascally wabbit, Carl!     06/14/2011 18:15
But I'm warnin' you - that's no ordinary rabbit, it's got a mean streak a mile wide!

Damn you guys are good. Congratulations on a superb effort. Your pictures are awesome. Bean, your writeup totally captured it.

Footwear notes: Scarpa needs to rethink the way they rivet the buckles on their boots, they seem to fail a lot (usually in awkward places). And funky footwear is the rule for snowboarders on Cap - Jarrett uses an old pair of AT boots which he has modified to work with his (also modified) bindings. I guess a standard rig just won't do it, especially for the climb.


Awesome job!     06/14/2011 18:18
You guys are killing it this season. I have been thoroughly enjoying watching you adventures. Congratulations to all of you.


Nice work Carl & fellas     06/14/2011 18:23
Happy to hear and read that you guys had a suceesful outing on Cap. I'm sitting here watchin it rain outside on the coast of Maine and, damn, a Cap outing in those conditions looks mighty nice when compared to my rain-soked runs and kayak outings. Well done and congrats!


what a year     06/14/2011 18:42
doesn't get much better than that, well for Colorado anyways.

congratulations on the big one.


Well done     06/14/2011 19:18
Congrats, hell of an accomplishment!


the ”hits” keep coming     06/14/2011 20:17
Nice work on this one guy's. Way to get it done this season.


Yikes!     06/14/2011 20:30
Wow. The shot of the climber in red = front pointing on the snow traverse around K2. This photo makes me 100% SURE I do not want to try Capitol in snow conditions! Heart rate should be returning to normal soon.... Nice job!!


Holy Cow     06/14/2011 20:49
Congratulations you guys. Very impressive.


Buckles     06/14/2011 23:12
Mark my words, the real solution to BC buckle issues is the rear entry boot. I lost the toe buckle last year on Little Bear and would therefore like to claim the first ”plastic-boot-two-buckle-tele-descent” of LB and Crestone Peak. It's not much, but it's something isn't it?

Way to roll with the equipment failures if for no other reason than to take some AWESOME sunrise pics. Congrats again.


Extremely COOL!     06/15/2011 00:37
That was incredible! Awesome pictures and report! Congrats and job well done.


Nicely Done Boys.     06/15/2011 00:41
I know the weight thats off your shoulders now. It really is a relief eh? Glad it worked out for you this year. And that same rabbit was harassing us a bit as well. Little punk.


NICE     06/15/2011 02:56
Photo 3 and 7 are sweet. Nice job.


Nice talking with you.     06/15/2011 05:16
Hey, I work the front desk for the Forest Service at the Holy Cross Ranger Station in Minturn. It was awesome talking with you on the phone Monday morning. Best of luck with your next adventure!


Awesome!     06/15/2011 15:09
Good work on the ski decent, that is amazing! Great write up too!


Great Job     06/15/2011 16:35
Awesome post guys. Great Pics too!


Impressive report and achievement but......     07/29/2013 18:29
I can't condone violence vs. fellow mammals. Hate the title of this report.

Congrats on the achievement tho.


Awesome!     06/16/2011 15:17
nice work!!


Congrats!     06/16/2011 16:28
Wow, team, great accomplishment. I think those are the best photos I've seen posted on this site. Very cool.

Easy Rider

Wow!     07/11/2011 01:48
It happened again! Great timing and photos! Way to giver the big heel Marc!

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