Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2013
Modified:  03/13/2014
Date Climbed:   08/05/2013
Author:  Lady McClimbsalot
Additional Members:   Steve
 Cap, Cap, Capitol Peak! Plus summit dance-off entry  

Welcome back, and might I add it's absolutely wonderful to (still) be here. This past Sunday we endured sweat, rain, mud and blood as we ventured to Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness to conquer Capitol Peak. Beware, there are photos that will take your breath away, videos that will cause your hair to stand on end, and a dance-off video submission at the end that will make you so jealous you'll want to be me. Seriously. It's becoming an issue...
Read on and enjoy the latest and greatest summit tale of Lady McClimbsalot!
Aha! That one there!

We knew there were thunderstorms a'brewing pretty much every day (even up until now... and until forever apparently), so we were expecting rain on the approach. We started at noon, ponchos at the ready. It sprinkled off and on just long enough for us to put our ponchos on, then it would stop and we'd start suffocating. Luckily this sick game between mother nature and us only went on for a short while. Almost magically, the sun came out upon our first views of Capitol Peak. Just the sight of it made my jaw drop.
First glimpse of the Beast

So funny story about this approach... I had skimmed the route description and added up 5.7 miles total to Capitol Lake. Well, once we got to the stream crossing we took off our boots, strapped on our Chacos, and figured we were almost there. We weren't. In fact, we had 3 miles left. This would've been nice to know before we had made the mental commitment to just keep our Chacs on. HARDCORE (or stupid... either one works). Regardless, that hike in is so beautiful it's mind blowing. I've never seen so many wildflowers. Red, yellow, orange, and pink Indian Paintbrushes, Columbines... and that's the extent of my wildflower-naming knowledge... but there were MILLIONS.
Incredible flowers for miles!

We slogged and slogged until we almost couldn't slog any further... then the rain came. Not just the, "Oh, I'll throw my poncho on and just keep going," but like, torrential downpour rain. Oh yeah, and then the hail. This is the point I started laughing because it really was a, "It can't get any worse" moment... and then it got worse. You know what the worst part about hail is? IT HURTS. I stopped laughing. Exhausted, we picked up the pace and settled in camp #5. There's a great tree there that kept a good-sized area completely dry. We threw all our gear there and waited for the rain to let up. Boy, were we grateful for that storm when we looked to the east to find K2 and Capitol enveloped in a dark blanket of moisture.
This view made all that hail worth every hit

We set up camp and were sound asleep by 7 pm. "The Approach That Never Ends" really took it out of us. Due to the threat of bad weather, we woke up at 3:30 am and were on the trail at 4. We flew up to the beginning of the ridge and felt like we were devouring the trail at incredible speed. If only we had taken into account that early risers who move quickly...... Don't get any sunlight...... For a very long time. Well, as you can guess, we trusted our instincts like great mountaineers, and they led us completely astray. Very, very astray. We had began to climb along the ridge, a good bit of elevation up, when we heard the mountain start growling. This growl slowly intensified to the point of me stopping in fear to hang on. The growl grew to an ominous roar that seemed to fill the valley.
"Rock fall," I said. We exchanged terrified looks.
We continued in silence, paying extra attention to the countless loose rocks that closed in around our feet. An occasional cairn reassured us... until they ended abruptly and left us to route find on our own. We went about a quarter mile until we realized we really were not advanced enough (or dumb enough) to continue. The next move was doable for my man friend, but my short little arms and legs told me NO. We decided it was time to turn around, even if it meant costing us our summit. We returned to the beginning of the ridge and spotted another climber WAYYYYYYYYYY below us. We hollered at him and descended until we intersected with his group of three right as the sun rose.
We continued on, adding on two Steves and a Ted from Texas. They were doing their second-to-last 14er with only Longs Peak to go. Happy to be on track and in good company, we continued on (the right route). Looking up to our right, we were bewildered at the dangerous feat we had accidentally attempted. My was it different seeing it in the daylight. We must've said at least a hundred times, "DUDE. I can't BELIEVE we tried to do that." Word to the wise... know the route, and know it well. Especially on Capitol. So we realized our mistake was that once you reach the top of the first section after the initial switchbacks, you're supposed to descend on the other side, turn right, and navigate across the talus field. Then once you're facing south, if you look a little to the left you'll see some peach-colored rocks. On our way towards K2 we stayed more towards the right and hobbled, tripped, and leapt over large, but very loose and wobbly rocks. Coming back, we realized if you head for the peach-colored ones, they are larger and 100% stable. We took note of this so we could pass it along as a good tip to other climbers. SO YOU'RE WELCOME! 8)
We followed the boulders up to K2 and swung around the right side, dipping down some slanted rocks and then coming back to the top portion of the ridge right before the knife edge. Just so you know, all knife edge pictures are from the descent, but the first video was the initial knife edge crossing. We were a little preoccupied getting accustomed to the beast on the way up to take many pictures. So here it is, THE INFAMOUS KNIFE EDGE!!! (For real this time... none of that wannabe Kelso business!)

Now if you're wondering, "How did it make you feel??" Let me tell you something... It takes a great deal to scare me. I had reviewed this section over and over, I had done Kelso's knife edge effortlessly, and I don't have a fear of heights in any way. The moment I grabbed hold to the thin slab of rock and hoisted my leg over its point, the air in my lungs escaped me. My heart started pounding so hard I worried I might get lightheaded. I also started quivering a bit and feared my grip might slip. Oh yeah, did I mention out of our group of 4 guys and a chick, I went first?? The lineup was unintentional, so obviously I didn't say anything and just led the way, my ducklings behind me all in a row
No big deal!

Just doin some gymnastics to pass the time

The view down the west side

Never let go!

We continued on with some slightly difficult route finding. It is imperative to stay higher rather than lower during this portion. Oh yeah, and mind the rocks. There were lots of "Whoas" to be heard while we got closer to the summit. I distinctly remember a moment where I could've died. Funny to say that nonchalantly after the fact. Always ALWAYS have your faith in your hands before taking a step. I had clung to a nice slab at about chin-height and stepped onto what felt like a great, solid rock. The moment I kicked my weight off it, down it went. It was so large and heavy that I smelled smoke from when it struck a rock below me. I sat there, feet repositioned, but still clinging to my lifeline, and met eyes with a fellow climber. All I could do was exhale. We continued kicking rocks onto each others' heads for a little while until finally, we had made it. 9:08 am. What an amazing feeling.
And of course the pickles, too!

By the way, Vlasic did not disappoint. Remember the letter I wrote to corporate headquarters? I got not one, not three, but FIVE cases of pickles on my doorstep last week. Yeah, I'm talking like, three hundred jars of pickles here. I couldn't be happier
Our two Steves and a Ted

Number 12!

And of course, the views!
With all the feelings of ecstasy and congratulations oozing all over the summit, I decided I had to dance. Not just ANY dance, mind you, but a dance that will grace the eyes of mountain climbers across the country and hopefully win their votes! Yes, prepare yourselves for my entry in the 2013 14ers Summit Dance-Off Competition! Here's the original thread...

Descending from Capitol Summit

This video is from our descent.
The storm that snarled at us to hurry

We did it!!!!!!!
A truly indescribable feeling!

This last picture really hits a heart string for me. I am the most sarcastic, go with the flow, slightly abrasive, yet loving person who would give or do anything to get a smile or a laugh out of someone. But sometimes we all need to take a step back and dig deep into that ooey gooey feelings place that some of us don't like to venture into. During this descent, I felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness to God for our safety. I mean, there was another nasty storm with hail that pelted us literally the same minute we reached our tents. Not to mention we were lost and then found. Must've been a stroke of good luck...? Not on Capitol. Believe in what you will, be it God, a mighty wind, or a star in the sky, but take time to be grateful to something other than yourself. Only your own two legs can get you somewhere, but the strength required to conquer such amazing feats that only a small percentage of people can do or even attempt comes from somewhere else. Somewhere amazing. It's good to still be here

Oh yeah, and if you've made it this far... we have a re-mix version of our initial knife edge video. SUPER AWESOME MUSIC Enjoy!

Till next time...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Somewhat of a Prick

05/07/2014 14:21


08/09/2013 13:55
The Dance Video is my favorite part.


08/09/2013 13:58
Somewhat of a Prick-lucky you, for obvious reasons. That clip of the knife brings back some great memories. Lady-nice work and nice moves.


08/09/2013 13:58
Yeah, that's an amazing mountain! I hope to repeat it once more if I can! Some of the best flower displays I've seen were just above Cap Lake too! Congratulations on the summit!


New Competition
08/09/2013 14:12
I call it, ”Bad-assery on the knife-edge.” Going to be hard to beat Image #14. Congrats guys. I'm happy colokeith and I could help by letting you two smoke us up the Kelso ridge.

Lady McClimbsalot

Thank you!!!!
08/09/2013 14:13
Your comments are greatly appreciated And MtnHub, we had multiple flower pictures, but had to force myself to focus on the mountains, lol


knife edge gymnastics
08/09/2013 14:43
that photo made me a little nervous. Definitely the most fun I've ever seen anyone have on the knife edge.

Capitol is a stout peak for #12. Nice work.

This is a well-written and entertaining TR that you clearly put a lot of time and effort into... so thanks for posting!


I felt like...
08/09/2013 15:04
...I'd navigated the knife edge myself watching that video - I was on the edge of my seat if that counts. Nicely done.


08/09/2013 17:22
... work, both of you. Looks like a lot of time was invested in this TR. Fun read and good dance-off entry. You deserve all the pickles you can eat. Some-what-of-a-prick, how do you like the drift (assuming that's your cam)? I was considering it after my experiments with GoPro batteries failed badly in Winter (or anything colder than 45F really).

Somewhat of a Prick

Chemical Brothers reshared the video at the end
08/09/2013 17:20
I'm internet famous!!!


dance-off winner??
08/09/2013 17:24
Those are such beautiful pictures from the summit! It looks like a rewarding mountain for many reasons! And I agree...I am not sure if there is such a thing as luck on a mountain like Capitol!


Sweet work!
08/09/2013 19:17
Can't wait to get back in a couple of weeks; I will see if I can get both feet even close to leaving the knife edge surface at the same time... I will need to invest in a macro lens for my camera to see the gap. Thanks for a really fun report!


08/09/2013 20:31
Great trip report as always and congrats on this difficult summit...


08/09/2013 20:44
... report and dance-off. Those two guys on the summit who acted like they weren't paying attention to the dance didn't fool me.

Billy the Kid

08/09/2013 21:51
Bad ass trip report...I can't wait to climb this mountain soon! Good job!!


hell yeah
08/09/2013 22:36
great job guys!! fun trip report! That pic of the handstand on the kinfe edge is nutz

Summit Stomper

08/10/2013 01:36
She's a beauty! Oh' the mountain too! Best dance video yet! Impressive climb and great report.


08/10/2013 04:59
Can't wait to get out and do this peak. Great videos - your trip reports are always so fun to read!

Lady McClimbsalot

Seriously guys... don’t make me blush....
06/26/2015 01:36
haha Your encouragement means the most to me! I write these out of passion... and for helpful hints/your entertainment The support on this site is amazing. Thank you, thank you! I recall my first 14er where I was scared we’d lose our way up Yale. Not that my route finding is any better, but I think my understanding for this whole lifestyle has transformed. To say I respect the mountains is an understatement. I have fallen in love, deeply, hopelessly, forever


Way, way too funny!
08/11/2013 01:51
LOVED the dance moves at 14K! Seriously, were those guys ”props” or did they really stay that stoic? What kind of fun is that?!? Great report, I had to call my wife down to see the dance! Keep it up, be safe!

Lady McClimbsalot

08/11/2013 02:06
Gee, thanks Tom! And I was amazed when I watched the video to see that they actually really did ignore me for the most part, ha! I was doing my best to not laugh at MYSELF... I can't imagine how they stifled their laughter so well Thanks so much for the comment!


The Dance ...
08/11/2013 03:57
... on a scale of 1-10, its a 14!

(oh, yeah: thanks for sharing the knife edge video and your thoughts on thankfulness ...)


08/11/2013 18:32
His ego used to be a 14/10 and after this i has to be 11,000,000,000/10
Love ya Nick and Danielle!


08/11/2013 18:33
Phlip, Phlip, Philpidelphia!


Try Gangnam Style Nextime!
08/11/2013 18:38
Can’t resist participating in this amazing commentary!

For me, that little up-and-down scramble on the north side of K2 was the crux. In part, because three inches of fresh snow made it impossible to gage the firmness of the underlying scree. And, those quick three or four moves across the funnel – where you are forced by the wall to lean into the abyss, pack and all – were definitely hair raising. I’d certainly recommend climbing up and over K2 – before I’d roll the dice like that again. Incidentally, I think we lost a climber at exactly that point several years ago.

Great gymnastic move on the Knife Edge. With that strength, you should consider going into a full handstand, or even a stag. Just kidding! Don’t you dare!!

Great dance video. However, wrt chorography, you might consider bringing your newly discovered peak troop into the action – say by tapping each of them as you dance by and having them join you Gangnam Style. Unless that’s “trop passé” already. Anyway, I agree, definitely a “14+”!

And, great video crossing the Knife Edge. Best I’ve seen. Really captures the exposure!

Lady McClimbsalot

08/11/2013 20:59
But your comment was absolutely lovely haha I can't imagine doing Capitol in the snow. No thank you! I am happy with my summer summit just fine, but kudos to you! That sounds quite intense. I was scolded enough for the fancy stunt I pulled on the knife edge... so for fear of being scolded even more intensely, I guess I'll keep it to minor near-death tricks. And yeah, my heading expresses my feelings towards Psy or whatever the F that guy's name is. I'd rather swan dive off the knife edge than associate myself with that song. But that's just to put it as lightly and politely as possible! 8) Thank you again for your amazing comment! Happy climbing!!

Shawnee Bob

Awesome report
08/12/2013 03:26
Something I don't think I'd ever see: A dose of the Macarena on the summit of Capitol! Seriously, great pics and a fine report.


Great TR
08/12/2013 18:25
Kept thinking the SuperFreak was going to lead into a Harlem Shake (I think one of those guys one the summit was so still he might have been asleep?)

Seriously, fun report. As for that guy you were hiking with...he seems like Somewhat of a Prick.


08/16/2013 16:53
I know tent site 5 well....and the weather which woke me up at 0200 and never quit. A day at camp 5 without a summit push was still better than a good day anywhere at a lower elevation. I am planning to see camp 5 again in the next few weeks....5 peaks left and hoping after my next stay at #5 to have 4. Great job on the TR...hope you enjoy all those pickles!

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