Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2011
Date Climbed:   09/04/2011
Author:  WarDamnPanic

 Capitol Peak Standard Route  

We left Denver at 11 am on Saturday and of course hit heavy traffic on 70. We arrived at the TH around 3pm and met up with our group. The 4WD road was dry and very easy to navigate. We opted for the ditch trail and the hike to the lake is beautiful! We arrived at Capitol Lake around 5:30 pm.

View of Capitol from the lake

Capitol is one of the more stunning mountains I have seen as it sits relatively alone and the rock wall is very impressive up close. We setup camp, filtered some water from the lake, cooked dinner, and then did a little star gazing before hitting the sack by 9 pm with alarms set for 5 am. There was hardly any wind through the night and the temp only got down around 33.

Next day, we started up the saddle around 5:30 am and quickly reached the Daly-Capitol saddle. After the saddle we headed down into the Talus field to bypass the steep ridge on the right. This is an important junction. There were a few hikers ahead us who opted to stay on the ridge and not bypass it. They were quickly into Class IV terrain and it did not look like fun! We quickly passed them and reached the summit 30 minutes ahead of them. We traversed below the steep stuff and reached the two snowfields below K2. Once through the last snowfield we turned right and quickly saw K2.

View of K2 from the talus field.

The talus field is quite nice and it is a very easy climb up to the summit of K2.

On top of K2 with Capitol behind us

Once on the summit of K2 we headed down on the NW side and this was the first Class III/IV rock we encountered.

Descending K2

We quickly reached the "Knife Edge" and although the exposure is there, the rock is very solid.

Image #5 (not yet uploaded)

Looking down on the knife edge

After the knife edge is where we really encountered the loose rock notorious in the elks. We stayed just left of the ridge until we reached the notch around 13,800. Here we encountered the first group coming down above us. They waited for us to reach them as rockfall in this zone could be very bad. We met someone in their group who had just completed the 14ers (he had 54 written on his shirt and he was pretty excited!) From here we continued up the loose Class IV rock to reach the final pitch.

Class IV Pitch just below summit ridge

About 100 ft from the Summit we turned right and stayed on the ridge until the top. We reached the Summit at 9 am.


We stayed on the summit for 20 minutes and enjoyed the perfect sunny calm weather. We descended the same way except we bypassed the summit of K2. Which turned out to be a little more difficult than resummiting. The talus field below K2 to the saddle seemed uber long but we reached our campsite at 1 pm and after some mashed potatos and an Upslope IPA (which completely hit the spot!) we made the trek back to the TH. We reached the TH at 4 pm.

Overall it was a great climb. We really lucked out with the weather as we had no wind, no clouds, and sunshine the entire time. I imagine with weather this climb can increase in difficulty very fast! This was #24 for my wife and I and definitely the most difficult so far. We did Pikes Peak ascent two weeks and were in great shape, but we were both mentally and physically drained. The knife edge is a little over rated as I thought the climbing after is the biggest challenge on this mountain. Biggest piece of advice is to check all hand/foot holds because there is lots of loose rock up there. Thanks to everyone in our group for a great climb!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

what a bluebird day!
09/05/2011 21:05
Nice work up there yesterday! Indeed, you are correct about difficult ridge climbing...that was me and the girlfriend up there above the saddle. 2hrs of IV had us pretty beat up by the time we reached K2 and we were jealous to see you traveling so quickly below.

H Man

09/13/2011 13:17
That was me that was so excited--a great 14er to finish on. Have fun in the mountains!

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