Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
"K2"  -  13,664 feet
Date Posted:  09/04/2013
Modified:  09/05/2013
Date Climbed:   09/02/2013
Author:  rtadlock
 Capitol Peak on Labor Day   

So this trip started pretty casually a few weeks back when my friend casually suggested that we climb Capitol after his wedding in Rifle. He's only climbed one other class 2 14er in the past, so I suggested we start with something easier as a precursor as I'd heard a lot about how hard Capitol is. He'd have none of that and infact he decided to invite his friend that would be in town from Boston to go with us. I figured none of us would summit and we'd just make a fun trip out of the hike in and camp.

Anyway, we got to the trailhead around 1pm on Sunday afternoon and left the truck around 130. There were 4 of us:




And Kev

The hike in was pretty uneventful other than some hilarious discussions that seem to get way out there on these types of trips. We passed a lot of hunters on horseback as I think it was opening day for archery. The hike in is a nice easy hike filled with lots of great views:

We got into camp right around 5:15 and didn't think we'd find a spot, but it turns out camp 8 in the designated area was wide open, so we jumped on it:

The weather was great, and we had a sweet view of what was to come in the morning:

We ended up going to bed around 830 I think after drinking a beer that we carried in. It was a very mild night, so I didn't put my silk liner in my summer bag. Ended up sleeping like a baby until my alarm went off at 4am. We had all packed the night before, so it was just a quick breakfast, and I think we were hiking by around 430. We made pretty quick work of the saddle, so we hung out for a bit and enjoyed the glow:

We met up with a few other hikers on the saddle and talked about the route. Seems like know one really knew where they were going. They took off a bit in front of us. Us four gathered up, and we split up some of Scott's load into our bags since he was feeling the altitude already. We moved on and it wasn't long before we caught the other two guys we had just talked to. They were trying to find the start of the trail that drops down into the rock fall area. While we were talking about the route, I grabbed a picture of the sun coming up:

For me, watching the sun come up from the top of a high mountain is my favorite thing about climbing the 14ers. It's something a picture just can really do justice to.

Anyway, our group decided to go up and try the route that doesn't drop down into the valley and instead goes across a ledgey/cliffy area. It started out pretty fun for everyone:

But the scrambling started to get pretty tough and the exposure was getting pretty legit, so Scott and Jay decided to go back and take the standard/originally planned route. Kev and I pushed on. We eventually came to a pretty tough move, that I would call the crux, and there we found a man and a woman. She was just crying and pretty frozen with fear. He seemed pretty calm, and said he knew the route was hard and that they'd be ok, so we just moved on. We eventually got across the route and could see other people on the bottom route. It was pretty crazy looking back on the route that we had just crossed:

The route traverses right across the middle of that cliff.

When we got to the top we could see a few people coming up the standard route:

Kev and I headed up and summited K2, and then waited for about 30 mins for Jay and Scott. I only took one picture from K2:

Kev and I decided to send Jay and Scott a text and tell them we were headed for the summit of Capitol. As we started up the ridge, we ran into a solo woman hiker. Us three decided to go for the summit together since none of us had done it before, and we figure an extra set of eyes for route finding would be helpful. Her name was Kate, and she was calculated and fearless. Pretty awesome.

I'm not going to lie, the knife edge was pretty intense going across. I mean there was a lot of exposure up until that point, and more to come, but I took my damn time going across...

There were a few times towards the summit where we had to really search for the route, but between the 3 of us, we figured it out each time. It felt like we were going to make it, but I just kept focusing on the next step. We passed a a few people coming down that confirmed we were on the route and were almost there. Kate and I took a direct route over the ridge to the final summit, and Kev took a lower traversing route. In the end, we all made it!

I was super stoked to have made it. I'd heard so much about this peak and here I was standing on top of it. Now all I had to do was get back down...

Going back across the ridge, I felt much more relaxed and comfortable with exposure. Going back across the knife edge was much less daunting. I did have a little bit of a hard time finding the correct route back around K2, but in the end, it was no big deal. Kev and I took the standard route back down and eventually caught up with Jay and Scott. They had turned back at K2 as Scott was really tired and didn't feel he had it in him to get out and back. We all hiked back together to camp:

We got back to camp around 1 and packed up and hiked out. We got back to the car around 5 and then drove home. It ended up being a really fun hike, and really got me amped up to climb some more.

Also, Kev made a pretty cool video with his GoPro. He had a bunch more footage that got corrupt, so he had to work with what was left (which I think turned out pretty good):

EDIT: Kev gave me a few more pictures





Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4

Comments or Questions

Glad you guys made it
09/10/2013 19:28
Glad to hear you made it across the upper route. I hear you about the exposure. I've never really done much class 4/5 climbing outside of a gym, so the exposure kind of worked me over a bit too. I think it's one of those things that just takes time to get used to. Looking forward to your follow up report.


Woman and man @ the "crux"
09/18/2013 20:11
We were the couple that you saw!
She had some hard times in that area. She has the technical skills, but you know how exposure plays with our bodies... We just made it to the knife and returned (too late to keep going). It was my first time there, and without a clear route to follow in that area, sometimes it became intense (”lets see... oops , no, not here... no, not here either... ” )
In our way down, we talked to Scott, but we did not returned with him because we wanted to ”enjoy” one more time the same path we did before; anyway, we were working on ”exposure-management-please-don't-freak-out-right-now” so why not ?!

We will come back in a couple of weeks, so lets see how it works out this time !!
And congratulations ! (awesome video too)

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