Log In 
 Peak:  Capitol Peak
 Route:  Secret Chutes
 Range:  Elk
 Posted By:  aksean22
 Date of Info:  5/27/2024
 Date Posted:  5/28/2024

Climbed and skied off the summit of Capitol Peak yesterday with Ben (akcasey12) and Hayes (to cool for social media). Started from the Snowmass Trailhead. Patchy snow starts around 10,000' but was mostly short or avoidable. Continuous snow starts after a large field about 4 miles in at 10,500', flotation is needed past that. Camped at Moon lake Sunday night and got a very early start Monday morning.

Instead of taking the knife edge, we opted to climb up our intended ski line, known as the Secret Chute. This connects to the standard route from Prairie Lakes basin near the end of the Northeast ridge before the final 400' of climbing, directly opposite of "death gully" on the Capitol Lake side. To get there, we skinned up towards K2 to 13,200', then skied the One-in-a-Million couloir in the dark and were at the base of the Secret Chutes by first light. The climbing was steep and it was nice to have two tools, but we did not need to break out the rope. (Note: this route only works in the the spring with supportive snow. It would be a chossy mess with significant overhead hazards in the summer, or wallowing in sugar snow in serious avy terrain mid winter. Skiers only ;) )

The last 400' of climbing is quite exposed, but the snow was consolidated and supportive. We stayed on the East face snow instead of taking ridge direct. We summited just before 8am and stayed just long enough to transition. The sun was already heating things up and realistically we would have preferred to be dropping in at 7:30. A few steep turns and one long left facing traverse back to the Secret Chute.

A 60m rope was just long enough to make it through the steepest and narrowest section at the top. Hayes decided he was "feeling good" and skied it clean from the ridge (which goes at 60 degrees with a mandatory straight-line) needless to say I was impressed. Excellent powder the rest of the way down. A quick booter back up One in a Million, sweet corn all the way back to snow line and an enjoyable walk back to the car. Found some mystery snowshoe tracks on the way back that belonged to daway8, who we met in the parking lot. As he said, timing is super important right now. Very happy to have that one knocked out, especially in such good conditions!

#1) River crossing for West Snowmass trail was calf deep#2) Camp at Moon lake#3) Skiing One in a Million, in the dark#4) Traversing below K2 in Prairie Lakes Basin#5) Above average sunrise#6) Upper portion of Secret Chute#7) First bit of ridge#8) Next bit of ridge (this one's going on the 'gram)#9) Ski tracks and tiny skier#10) More skiing#11) A look down the Secret Chute#12) Corn skiing below K2#13) Another view#14) The choke in Secret Chute. A 60m rope takes you just below the rock.

Comments or Questions
Rad as hell
5/28/2024 10:41am
Impressive effort, what a line in beautiful conditions!

5/28/2024 11:44am
You guys made my route finding a little easier in spots (except when I lost your tracks and went high in the basin). I was resting at Moon Lake for a bit before I turned and saw your tent - quite the camping spot you picked!
When I saw a group of guys with skis come back to the trailhead, after having just encountered some tourists who seemed surprised to see me with snow gear, I knew y'all must have been the track setters I followed.
This route is now on my radar for this winter but I think I'll probably want to follow your example and make it a winter camping expedition rather than a huge day hike.

Kya Cav
5/28/2024 12:14pm
Heck yeah bros! Stoked for you guys.
Highest level of stfsoofs

Good stuff
5/28/2024 12:37pm
Saw ya in the parking lot after garret. Stoked yall made it up there incredible work! Love to see people doing ridiculous lines still ! Way better than last year this time in the elks!

Nice work!!!
5/28/2024 12:46pm
My dude, you have been crushing it this season! Just a few more to go huh? Im also super impressed with your buddy who skied the secret chute clean from the ridge - that might be a first. Cheers

5/28/2024 12:48pm
Thats nuts, nice work Sean!

You are an animal
5/28/2024 12:53pm
If we ever meet Im buying you a beer. Hats off guys

5/28/2024 1:27pm
Nice work and congratulations on getting such a tough Peak on skis.

Rappel and Straightline
5/29/2024 8:25am
Thanks so much for the report, this inspires me to do one day! Out of curiosity, what is the rappel anchor (guessing tat on a rock), and did you rappel with skis on boots or on the pack?

Can you describe the straight-line ski down 60 degree terrain in detail? I am obsessed with such things, and sounds like Cody Townsend's ski descent of that immoral straight-line. I don't know how you could stop after that, but then again looks like you have a straight shot all the way to Pierre Lake, which is surely frozen, so perhaps that is the beta!


Thanks Everyone!
5/29/2024 6:26pm
@daway8 Glad our tracks helped. It's a big day in one push. I think splitting it into two really helps with the timing and increases your odds of success, plus it is a pretty sweet spot to camp!

@DeclanKnies Nice to meet ya! Sounds like you guys had a pretty rad weekend as well!

@Gueza Yeah its been a really good season, only 2 to go! Wilson Peak was out when I tired it so no finishing for me this year, but Ben only has Snowmass left so good chance he finishes soon.

@Skimo95 I wont say no to that!

Re: Rappel & Straightline
5/30/2024 9:09am
@Slawrence2011 There is a boulder that is perfectly positioned on the ridge, all you need is some webbing to sling it. It's a bomber anchor. I repelled with skies on, it was way easier than trying to transition on steep slopes. I added another pic from climbing up the couloir that should provide more prospective. There was probably 10-20' of choke where he really had to point them straight down, then it opens up. It was way more filled in this time than what I've seen in previous TR's, so that really helped.

5/31/2024 10:58am
Great work squad! Sad to miss out on this one!

   Not registered?