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To Dan from Capitol Creek Trailhead

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To Dan from Capitol Creek Trailhead

Postby Navigaiter » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:36 am

My buddy and I attempted to climb Capitol last week, and we didn't make it. The exposure after K2, combined with an extremely poor night's sleep, proved to be too much for me on this trip. I made the choice to turn us around before the knife edge, knowing that things were only going to get worse in my head. After 14 years of mountaineering, that was my first trip to Capitol, and I can't imagine, after having climbed both Maroon Bells and both Crestones, any 14er being harder. To me, at least, Capitol is in a class all its own. I'm no stranger to exposure either. However, I have always struggled with a fear of heights, and sometimes, no matter how much practice one gets, exhaustion takes over. In times like that, fear snowballs in my head and I can't control it.

But that's not the moral of the story. Rather than stay a 2nd night, we descended to camp, packed up, and hiked back to the trailhead, arriving by 5, all after having packed in the night before, getting maybe an hour or two of broken sleep, and waking at 3:30 a.m.

By the time we arrived at the car, I was exhausted beyond belief, and thirsty as hell (we had the means to get water but just didn't feel like stopping on the way out).

While I waited for my buddy to arrive, I chatted for a bit with a cool guy named Dan who had lived in Alaska for awhile and was getting ready to head up for a solo attempt of Capitol. As my buddy came up to the car, I asked if he had any water left.

Dan came up and, instead, handed me a Boulder Beer Company Hazed and Infused.

Words can't express how I felt at that moment. It was one of the coolest and most welcome gestures I've ever seen. Plus, it was the best tasting beer of my life.

So this is to Dan. I saw you had some 14ers.com printouts of the route, so I'm hoping you see this someday. I still can't thank you enough. I hope my near tears of gratitude at the trailhead demonstrated my appreciation. I didn't have much, if anything, to return the favor, but that beer lifted my spirits more than I could ever tell you and prepared me for the long drive back to Denver. Mountaineering is quite a bit about climbing mountains, but much more than anything, it's about the people we meet and climb them with.

I hope that, in return for the gesture, the mountain gods welcomed you warmly and you had a safe and successful trip. With a simple bottle of suds, you took a dehydrated mind that was in turmoil over two days of hard work and a morning of fear unlike I've ever experienced, and hit the reset button.

Safe travels, kind sir. I'll do my best to pay it forward.

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Re: To Dan from Capitol Creek Trailhead

Postby 12ersRule » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:50 am

Sorry you didn't get to summit Capitol, Navigaiter. You made the right call considering the fatigue and all. Getting past K2 is quite the feat in itself.

Dan is my new hero. 60 years old, and totally kicks my a*s in the mtns. Really positive person too!

Good luck at the PPA if you see this!

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