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Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Post Date:  09/13/2011
Date Climbed:   09/11/2011
Posted By:  Nelson


 2011 Swansong   

Capitol Peak, 2011

I had my heart set on one last trip to Colorado to the Elk range. The weather was not cooperating. There had been rain and snow from September 7th to 9th and the reports coming back were not good. Indeed good climbers had turned back from Capitol because of snow and ice. My plan was to go to Capitol and see how the conditions were and then head to the Maroon Bells and Pyramid.

I headed east from Utah on the 10th and after the 6 hour car ride headed up to Capitol Lake. Image
From the trailhead...
On the way it rained a little but was generally cold, nasty and windy. I ended up in camp site number 7 which was fairly protected and went through my ritual of setting up camp and getting water. All the other campsites were taken as it was a week end in late summer.

I was up at 4:30 when two of my neighbors took off for Capitol and I was away at 5:40. I could have left earlier but I wanted to have light when I got to the top of Daly Pass as the navigation there can be challenging in the dark. I worked my way over to K-2. As I approached it I did not like what I saw on the usual “go around to the right” route. Image
K-2
There was some snow and ice which I think I could have bypassed but I decided to just go over the top instead. On top I ran into two other groups debating whether to continue given some ominous clouds in the distance. The route looked dry but there had been some fog which seemed to freeze on the rocks and make them slippery. I felt this would not be a problem with careful stepping and I decided to go for it.

Image
The knife edge


I headed down to the ridge and ran into the “High Bivys” team of Dr. Jon Kedrowski and Chris Tomer who had spent the night on top and were headed down. They gave me some good beta and I headed up. As I went into the fog the other two teams caught me and passed by. I suspect they may have been one or two years younger. We all gathered on top and they were kind enough to take my summit photo. Because of the fog it might as well have been on the moon but a “hero photo” is a hero photo.

Image
Summit Photo


On the way down I took a few more picts and when I descended below K-2 it was all sunshine.

Image
Capitol Lake


Image
Pierre Lake




I headed for Aspen and there I got a look at the weather report. It was anything but good. They spoke of 60-70% possibility of rain/snow with the snow line being 10,000 feet. I was debating over whether I could get one climb of Pyramid in on Tuesday the 13th when I received the tragic news of David Morano’s death on Thunder Pyramid. When good climbers have accidents I figure it is time to fold my tent and head home.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Knockneed Man


Congrats...     09/14/2011 04:19
Great photos!


ETA


Good Climb....     09/16/2011 02:44
We did get lucky with the weather, that little burst of hail near the summit got my attention. Glad you had a successful climb. Maybe we'll see you out there next time.



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