| Takin‘ on Cappy
With my truck packed and now simply waiting to get the hell out of Lincoln, Nebraska, I sat in excruciating agony until the clock at work hit 0400pm. Finally, I could hit the road. I was out the door, away from the normality's of everyday life and on my way back home to the mountains.
It was 0130am before I arrived at Twin Lakes Reservoir (south of Leadville), literally surprised that old faithful made the 600 mile trek. Exhausted, I sprawled out insided the cab of the truck.
Me on old faithful (single cab '91 Dodge Dakota) waiting for Andy in the morning
It was 0930am when Andy rolled in to pick me up to carpool to the trailhead. We quickly threw my gear in the back and headed over Independence Pass and through Aspen, just making the turn at Snowmass before we realized that I had forgot to grab my watch out of my truck. Well sh*t, that was supposed to be our wakeup call for summit day.
After I made an unsuccessful attempt at buying a watch off a poor tourist, we were forced to look elsewhere. This led us up North up CO-82 to Clark's Market in Basalt, (where we bought and extremely overpriced watch). We were anxious to get to the trailhead, so we grabbed a sandwich to ease our sorrows (and stomachs) and finally made our way back to Snowmass pressing onward to the Capitol Creek Road. The road was dry and clear all the way to the trailhead, much to my surprise.
It was 1230pm when we received our first views of Capitol from the trailhead.
We quickly loaded up and hit the trail. We were taking the "ditch" route which was relatively flat and would negate the elevation gain on the return trip. It was pretty straightforward until the stream crossing. But thanks to beta that Andy had received, there was a log stream crossing about 150' upstream, past the trail. It was pretty ritzy, even encompassing an attached handrail. Thanks to those guys for all of that work.
Not long after, we entered the trees and our first encounters with snow. The trail was quickly lost amidst the snowpack, AND, being late in the day, the snow was soft leading to profuse cursing and post-holing. Lucky for us, there had been some fresh footprints left in the snow that we eagerly followed. We would however branch from the footprints and blaze our own trail, eventually leading us up to the Capitol Lake area where we found a flat spot on the top of a hill, just behind campsite #2.
We got a sneak peak of what was to come tomorrow
Capitol and the ridge leading from K2
After a quick refueling with some grub, we were off to bed. Oh and by the way, if you ever have a chance, ask Andy his thoughts on ballerinas.
It was a 0230 wakeup call (thanks to our handy dandy watch). We packed our day packs and hit the trail by 0330, being quickly greeting with light snowfall as we began our approach to the saddle between Mt. Daly and K2. The snow had hardened significantly overnight and felt good beneath our feet. As we crested the saddle, we opted to put our crampons on and begin to side traversing along the East side of the ridge leading to K2.
The sun had slipped over the horizon and was now up making only brief appearances from behind the overpowering clouds.
The distance seemed longer than expected before K2 finally reared her little cornice covered head. I led the charge up K2, wary of the cornice that had formed on her Southern face.
I snapped a few picks of Andy on his way up. Watch out for that cornice.
It was now 0630am and time for the money shot, Capitol and the knife edge in all of their glory as seen from K2.
After a quick decision to push on, despite the on again/ off again snow, we headed down the due west side of K2 (big mistake), downclimbing what we estimated to be 40'The route finding down was quite interesting involving several tricky moves. Andy and I had split up, each choosing a different descent route. We both made mental notes to take an alternate route up on the re-approach.
Andy at the bottom of his 40' downclimb
Before long we were on the proverbial ridge between K2 and Capitol.
The going was pretty simple as long as you do not mind exposure. We were simply sticking to the top of the ridge, avoiding corninces, while pushing forward along the crest.
The sky finally opened up and the sun came out for a brief few moments, exposing the elegance of the Bells and Pyramid.
We finally met the infamous knife edge, which had acquired a light dusting of snow from the morning flurries. I found the "crux" of the route one of the most enjoyable sections of the climb.
Before long we were climbing the shoulder of Capitol before exiting and side traversing along the South side of her face (climbers left).
We found a steep snow chute that Andy blazed up.
I opted for some class 4 rock scrambling along an adjacent side gully. After meeting at the top, we made our way to the crest of the ridge which we would follow until we hit the summit proper.
I literally felt on top of the world as the summit passed beneath my feat at 0830am. I was so proud to be standing there and more than excited to be sharing this moment with Andy as he had just finished complete his final 14er (#59).
Celebration on the summit. (Andy on left, me on right)
We took a few glory shots and my standard summit pose
There was no time for too much excessive celebrate however, we were rushed and wanted off of the mountain, unsure of what was in store for us from mother nature.
Descending along our approach route, we crossed back over to the shoulder and ridge where we had entered Cappy on our way back over to K2.
The knife edge had blown over and was free of snow as we passed back through. Of course the second time around you have to show off...right.
Finishing the ridge with K2 in the background (Daly on left, K2 on right)
We traversed along the side of K2 where I would resummit, this time from the North-West, which was much more solid and made for an easy climb up.
A shot looking back at Andy from the top of K2, resummiting. (Ridge leading to Daly in the background)
From here we would closely follow our approach route back. traversing along the side of the ridge to the saddle between K2 and Daly. Our morning footsteps were lost amidst the recent morning snowfall that had fallen since our departure. The route back was however, much tougher than the approach. The snowpack had softened as the sun had risen in the sky. Andy was forced to self arrest twice as the snow gave way beneath his feet.
As we reached the saddle, we removed our crampons and headed back down towards camp. From here the going was quick. We found a nice spot to glissade which made the descent that much faster into camp. As we were taking the tent down, a new snow storm was bearing down on us. We were anxious to lose elevation and gain some cover.
Once within the trees, the way out was without any significant event, simply following the stream down until we met up with our tracks coming in from the day before (day old tracks on right, new on left)
and getting a nice glissade in just for fun.
As we were leaving the trees, we met a large group of campers (many in sandals) from a local school for the deaf that were wanting to camp at Capitol Lake that night. They looked severly unprepared for the trials ahead, however, Andy and I provided them with some beta and wished them the best of luck. God can only hope that they turned around.
We were back at the trailhead by 0530pm and back to my truck by 0900pm. Now time for the long journey back to Nebraska and work at 0700am
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