Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  08/31/2005
Modified:  05/23/2006
Date Climbed:   08/30/2005
Author:  cgrossman
 Capitol Peak - from Capitol Lake  

We picked a perfect day to climb Capitol Peak, as the weather stayed clear all day. We started in the dark, as the initial trail from the campground below the lake up to the Daly-Capitol saddle was easy to follow by headlamp. Once over the saddle, route options abound, with assorted trails. We elected a middle course, trying not to drop too low and certainly not trying the ridge. There were still a number of snow fields in the basin, which in the early morning were best avoided.

Ascending the basin steered us up to K2. It was a little confusing at first because you cannot see Capitol Peak until you get high up on the K2 slopes. We overshot the cutoff around K2 and ended up on K2\‘s summit, with its spectacular view of Capitol\‘s summit. Image The downclimb of K2\‘s north side was, for me, the most difficult and anxious part of the climb. We made it down to the ridge but I\‘m sure the route we took was \"non-standard\".

I was a bit surprised that the famous \"knife edge\" was only a relatively small section of the K2-Capitol ridge. Yes, it was very exposed and required full concentration but was, for me at least, simply a matter of careful foot placement and focus. I felt other sections of the connecting ridge were just as challenging as the knife-edge.

Once across the ridge, we followed the cairns up and across the south face. Seemingly contrary to what Roach suggests, our ascending traverse took us all the way to the south ridge (the left edge when looking at Capitol from K2) and then up to the summit. The ascent was not as steep or as difficult as I\‘d thought it would be based on photos I\‘d seen. The route is well cairned and although care must be taken, the footing and \"handing\" seemed quite stable.

The view from the summit was simply spectacular. However, I was only brave enough to sit part way out on the standard photo-op overhanging rock.

We took great care on the descent and recrossing of the ridge, and found what is likely the \"standard\" K2 circumvention route, which exited well below K2\‘s summit.Image

We were equipped to spend another night at the campground, but the day went so well, we decided to pack up and hike out.

Overall, it took us a about 3.5 hours to hike trailhead-to-lake, using the slightly longer \"ditch\" (western) trail, a little over 4 hours from lake-to-summit, a little under 3 hours from summit-to-lake, and another 3 hours from lake-to-trailhead. All in all, a great climb and a great trip.

I tried to take a lot of pictures and will gladly email them upon request (note: theyre quite large).

-Chris Grossman

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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