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Capitol Peak

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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 5/27/2024, By: daway8
Info: Attempted Capitol as a day hike from Snowmass Creek TH via Moon Lake starting at midnight. Trail was totally dry to start with but the stream crossing at 1.5mi was raging pretty good. No easy to get across with dry feet so brought water shoes which only added 1lbs. Very invigorating at 1am. Not much snow until about 10k but crazy amounts of snow by the time you reach Moon Lake. Trail starts off very easy to follow but then turns into bushwhacking chaos where I picked the wrong way, staying up to the right instead of down near the stream and wasted a ton of time and energy. Reached the base of K2, where the Moon Lake route meets the standard route, at 9am only to have a small avalanche come down straight at me. I had time to sprint out of the way - it was just a cluster of rollerballs - but it was already crazy hot so I knew there would be more to come. Earlier saw a rock the size of a large boot that had rolled down a crazy distance, then rolled uphill 20 feet before turning and rolling down further. The marks in the snow from it tumbling were a foot or two apart meaning it must have come down fast. Didn't want to be up there when those missiles started launching so bailed with a successful recon of this winter route for Capitol. Looks like best as an early winter route before avy danger spikes. Met 3 guys who camped at the lake and successfully skied from the summit, going East Face to Secret Chute. They may do their own post but moral of the story is 9am is far too late to be heading for the summit right now. Will add pictures later. 
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Route: Secret Chutes
Posted On: 5/28/2024, By: aksean22
Info: 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! 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 12/23/2023, By: Will_E
Info: Got Capitol yesterday in pretty good conditions. As expected, it was the sketchiest thing I've done, I wouldn't have figured out how to get up that ridge without my hero Screesurfer leading the way. I went up on Tuesday and put in a trench to Moon Lake. Screesurfer, McQueen and I started around midnight Thursday night, Brad had the same feeling I did last year after seeing Capitol from K2 and turned back. Long, hard day, 10:37 up, 7:23 down. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 10/10/2023, By: niemeier314
Info: Summited on 10/8. I was able to manage with microspikes but I really wished I had an ice ax for K2. I wouldn't recommend traversing around K2 without ice ax and crampons. If not, I'd vote for climbing up/down K2 which was doable with microspikes. With microspikes, you should be prepared to do plenty of downclimbing 4th class terrain with them on. Knife's edge was basically free of snow. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 10/8/2023, By: cwccardella
Info: I made my second summit of Captiol Peak yesterday (10/7). My partner and I were expecting snow, but there was more than we anticipated. The snow started about a 1/2 mile before the lake and continued up to the Daly saddle in sporadic sections. The Daly saddle and basin is filled with snow, on average mid-calf deep, to even knee deep in certain sections. The north side of K2 is also snowed in, and an ice axe and crampons are highly recommended. We broke trail on the ridge, all the way to the peak, and the snow becomes more sporadic after the knife edge. There are plenty of steep snow sections on the route, with lots of mixed climbing. Downclimbing from the summit back to K2 is where the crampons were necessary, due to the softness of the snow, especially on the steep exposed sections. Capitol is no longer in summer conditions, and from this point on I would expect late spring, to winter-like conditions. I wouldn't recommend trying for the summit without Crampons, an ice axe, gaiters, and experience of how to use them in mixed conditions. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/28/2023, By: shapovalovm
Info: Still pretty much summer conditions, other than the walkaround of K2 on the north side, which holds some snow/ice. I just climbed over K2 and it was not too bad. Knife's edge is so much fun! The rock is solid and secure. In most of the places you can walk on the side. Very often there are ledges to the sides below as well and exposure does not feel horrible. Overall, I think it is a great fun place to be Sad it's kind of short. The most laborious and time consuming parts of the route for me were the first saddle to K2 and knife's edge to the summit. The former is just a ton of boulder hopping. The latter just never ends and navigation is not always obvious. At some point I realized that the motto must be "when in doubt, traverse around", because going up generally puts you in harder terrain or forces you to go down anyway. Foliage is beautiful up there and I think it's just before the peak colors. Saw 2 bears on the trail within the first mile after upper TH. Started ~6:15am, finished by 5:25pm. Oh, last note: I parked my Accord at 2WD TH only to later realize I could've driven it all the way to the upper TH. First 1.75m (of 2m) are very easy, the rest has a couple potholes and rocks. With careful maneuvering still looked doable. In fact, coming down I saw a Civic arriving to the TH. Note, you cannot park anywhere from lower TH to about .25 before upper TH. 
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Route: ridge direct to ne ridge
Posted On: 9/24/2023, By: zootloopz
Info: plenty of snow present on the north face above 13k and many pockets of shaded terrain all over the route. brought spikes, only used them once near the saddle on the way back. I'd recommend bringing them depending on your comfort level. ridge direct from saddle to k2 took 2 hours. plenty of class 4 and exposure to be found. saw someone trundle a very large boulder and the subsequent dust storm along the face around 13,800'. be sure to test your rock and be conscious of people that might be above you. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/25/2023, By: Shawn Ironman
Info: Near perfect conditions, windy along the ridge and just above freezing. K2 is holding snow over the top and around the bypass on the right. We were the first group up and I went first through K2 and knife edge. About nine others were heading up as we went down. My first time on Capitol and the route finding and exposure in about a dozen different places along the route were extreme. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/18/2023, By: yaymountain
Info: Most of the snow that came down melted as of 9/17. Get 'er done soon! Couple minor snow crossings below 13K. North facing slope has snow but you don't really venture there except for some parts over and down K2. But really not anything major to worry about. I brought spikes but didn't need them at all. Completely dry from knife all the way to summit. A really amazing mountain and gorgeous area! 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/15/2023, By: mjordan
Info: We summited on Sunday 9/10 so take it with a grain of salt. There has been snow up there since! Beautiful day on Capitol. Summited at 8:30am and saw some clouds way off in the distance so headed down trying to beat the 3pm snow that was forecasted. Ended up getting caught in a sleet/snow storm when returning across the knife edge. Terrifying and awesome at the same time. A couple snow crossings in the boulder field on the back side before K2 if you dont drop low. We just carefully crossed them and tried to use previous footprints. It would be a hell of a ride if you slipped, but not deadly. I liked going up and over K2 instead of around. Knife edge isnt as scary as people make it to be in my opinion, but still a great rush. Have fun and know its different up there every single day right now since the first snow has started. Oh yeah - take your rod theres tons of fish in the lake, we caught them all evening!  
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/11/2023, By: constipated_pete
Info: Snowfield crossing after Daly saddle was nothing to worry about. Busy busy day on the peak, including people with no helmets and lots of groups heading up from K2 at noon. Full sphincter shrinker of a day. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/8/2023, By: kabal
Info: Conditions are sublime. Just a few snowfields to cross on the backside. No ice ax/microspikes needed. Both routes (up and over, around) K2 are accessible. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 9/5/2023, By: WildRover80
Info: There was a little bit of snow after the saddle, but spikes were not needed. The summit was calm and warm. We got blasted with rain on the way back to the truck. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/31/2023, By: jmfb3
Info: One snowfield required to cross after the Daly/Capitol ridge if you want to avoid elevation loss. Microspikes not needed for it. The class 1 trail to the lake seems to disappear / become hard to follow around 10,650 ft, where it begins turning very rocky and crosses what maybe used to be a stream?. If hiking in the dark, be very observant and you should be fine. Beta: A dirt trail reappears veering left off the rocks after a small group of small trees. Then you come across a few large stone steps, completely cross over the stone gully, and from a patio of rocks the dirt trail resumes veering hard right back into the woods. This can be hard to notice since the rocky path seems to veer left back into the gully. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/22/2023, By: donovanrice
Info: Left lake at 3:30. Summit at 8. Back to K2 at 9. Back to lake at 11. Back to TH at 1:30. Could probably start as early as 3 and hit K2 right when light starts getting visible. Plenty of water sources from TH to lake. Brought microspikes but did not use them. Had two or three low angle snow crossings. After the saddle, there is a fork where you can go up or down. Went down which possibly saved us from steeper snow crossings. I found the cairns after the knife edge to be very easy to follow. Glissaded with trekking poles on the descent. Overall, I found the hike to be less technical or scary than I originally thought. Met some pretty cool people. In the unlikely chance you see this, hit me up! 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/21/2023, By: jfm3
Info: I climbed Capitol from the trailhead on 8/20. There were some cows in the meadow after leaving the trees on the ditch trail. I used the logs to cross the creek in the morning and waded across in the afternoon on the descent (very refreshing for sore feet). There are several short/small snowfields on the lower part of the traverse on the east side of the Mt. Daly saddle. I used strap-on crampons and a short ice axe for both the ascent and descent of the longest snowfield that starts at ~12,800', and goes most of the way up the large, tan-colored talus. I thought the cairns on the east face above the Knife Edge were difficult to find. They are there, and constructed in obvious places, but seemed to blend in with all the loose junk that litters the upper mountain. The final ridge/traverse to the summit at 14,000', after turning off the east face, has some rock that looks far too large and solid to be loose, but somehow still is. I also saw Andrew Hamilton and Andrea Sansone with 2 other people at the Knife Edge. That seemed to be a good omen. It seems I didn't take any pictures between the Mt. Daly saddle and K2, so refer to previous CRs for pictures of the snowfields below K2. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/20/2023, By: infinitealpine
Info: There are snow fields after the saddle on your approach to K2. The route I took crossed 3 or 4 of them, the attached photo shows some of them. I personally felt much more comfortable with microspikes and an axe. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/18/2023, By: NathanMihm
Info: Brought microspikes but did not use them. Snow is rather low angle and can mostly be avoided: only needed to cross a few small spots between boulders. (As already mentioned, this is before K2 and not on any exposed sections) Glissaded a bit on descent. Logs are present at all the stream crossings so if youre careful you can avoid wet feet on approach. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/15/2023, By: hellmanm
Info: Disagree w/prior reports about optional traction. It felt mandatory yesterday in AM. The snow is still very solid, with long enough runouts that traction (or a significant elevation loss to circumnavigate the snow patches) is mandatory. The mosquitoes, though definitely still around, aren't as horrible anymore. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 8/13/2023, By: jpriske
Info: Climbed Capitol Peak 8-12. Still a good amount of snow on the backside of the Capitol-Daly saddle leading up to K2. In my opinion I would still recommend spikes. You could possibly avoid the snow but would require a good amount of elevation loss. No snow on the ridge between k2 and summit. Our group climbed k2 and descended on the climbers right side of k2. It was very solid and would definitely recommend going that route. Overall, conditions were great and the rock was loose but honestly felt like it wasnt as loose as people make it out to be but definitely still test every hold and dont sell out on anything. Left capitol lake at 3:15am, k2 by 5:45, summit at 8:00, back to k2 by 10, back to capitol lake by noon. Have fun out there! 
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