Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2012
Modified:  08/31/2012
Date Climbed:   08/06/2012
Author:  Belugadave

 Alternative to the Knife Edge  

The main reason I wanted to post a trip report is to say we found a nice alternative to going over the knife edge. We are not very technical climbers even though we have now climbed 47 14ers and the knife edge exposure was scary looking to us so one of our group decided to go down a small gully to the left located just before starting over the knife edge (I'm sorry we didn't take a photo of it). We went down about 25 feet and took a right climbing across small ledges all the way to the other side of the knife edge. There were several tough (for us) little maneuvers but we preferred this over the knife edge. We were able to find the same route coming back. As some other climbers have mentioned, they prefer the handholds of the knife edge and I can understand this but we just wanted to mention the alternative for people to choose based on what they prefer.

Here is our trip report with some photos. We got to the trail head Sunday around noon and ate our lunches sitting there looking at Capitol Peak from a distance - it is truly a magnificent looking peak.
Capitol Peak in the distance viewed from the trailhead

We definitely recommend like everyone else to take the ditch trail instead of the old Capitol Creek trail. You don't have to lose the elevation that you do on the old trail and the ditch trail is an easy grade most of the way. I think the sign at the end of the parking area calls it the Upper Capitol Creek Trail and there is a registration stand there. We kept a pretty good pace and had good weather and arrived at the lake in 3 hours after missing the turn where the trail crosses the river and meets up with the old trail and then found ourselves walking through a meadow where the trail disappeared amongst the cows. We just took a left and went through the trees and found a good place to cross the river and ended up back on the correct trail. We set up camp in one of the designated camp sites and then hiked over to see the lake and the view of Capitol Peak from there.

We were on our way to climb the peak at 6am the next morning and got to the saddle right after the sun came up. A beautiful morning.
Sunrise from the saddle between Mount Daly and Capitol Peak

The partial descent down the other side to start the long traverse was more difficult than we were expecting being very steep with some loose gravel areas. It's all a matter of perspective regarding what scares one person compared to another. As we've gotten older (mid 50's), we have lost some confidence climbing the more technical 14ers and don't have the same balance we used to have. We worked our way to the boulder field and around and up to K2. The route around the right side of K2 was also more difficult than we were expecting. We stopped at K2 for a break and some food before working our way around the right side. We decided not to climb to the top of K2 since it was taking longer than we thought to this point and we knew we had the real difficulties ahead.

We made it past the knife edge as I described above and then scrambled all the way to the top. It seemed there was never an obvious route to follow and it also seemed more difficult than we were expecting (I guess our expectations were clearly way off for this climb). It was more technical and with more loose rock than we had heard and read and route finding was difficult for us. We made it to the top at 10am, 4 hours after leaving camp.

We didn't spend much time on top and headed down. Going down was easier but still nerve wracking for us old non-technical climbers. Here we are spread out on the boulder field area. Fun big rocks to climb over.
Descending the boulder field

We made it back to the saddle and took this photo of the camp site area and the lake edge.
View of camp sites on the mound and the lake from the saddle

We got back to camp at 1:30 so it was 3.5 hours to descend from the top. I think this was the most difficult 14er we have climbed out of 47 of them so far, being hard both physically and mentally. We packed up, had lunch and backpacked out which took us 2 hours 40 minutes. We had great weather the entire trip until we got to the car and it started raining - good timing for us.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Cool route
08/14/2012 00:25
I'm planning on leaving Capitol as one of my last 14ers, and this route looks really cool. I'll have to keep this report on tab to refer to it later

That sunrise picture was amazing!


Interesting alternative
08/14/2012 14:02
Thanks for sharing this route. I loved the knife edge myself, and I may have found your route scarier than it, so it just shows that everyone has their own cup of tea.

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