Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  07/24/2006
Modified:  07/25/2006
Date Climbed:   07/22/2006
Author:  chrisjferraro

 Capitol Peak  

I headed out towards Glenwood Springs from Denver area on Friday. I was on the trail backpacking into Capitol Lake by 4ish. I took the Ditch trail, it was very easy to follow. At about 3 miles in I crossed the creek and joined the Capitol Creek trail. I took this trail to the campsites just below Capitol Lake (probably around 11,500 ft). I set up camp and hung out for the rest of the evening. The camp spots are pretty well defined by the signs in the area, and the trail to the pass (standard route) is directly across the Capitol Creek trail from the path to the second camp area (sites 5-8 ).
The next morning I was up at 420am and on the trail at 440am. I worked up a good trail to the pass. The trail then descends a little (~200 ft I guess) into the next basin over. I followed the trail down and right across the basin. Well I didnt really do so well following it, it was a little tough to define in the dark. My best indication of the trail were the tracks across the snowfields in the places the trail crosses them. So i just worked from snowfield to snowfield, and followed the tracks in the snow. The snow wasnt bad at all; it was relatively warm, so the snow wasnt hard or icy (I was on the 1st of the snow prob. around 515). By the last snowfield, I was sick of traversing snow and decided I would rather climb. I worked across and up the last snowfield for only ~50 yards to reach some solid easy class 3 stuff that I climbed up to the ridge. Once on the ridge I ascended to K2 without any problem. I the descended the north side of K2 as Roach recommends. There is a small trail at the base of K2 that goes to the ridge.
The ridge was easier than I expected. From K2, the ridge is horizontal for some distance. I stayed on it the whole way, gripping it with my hands and walking my feet along below, occasionally switching sides. This whole stretch of ridge seemed all the same to me and I didnt even recognize exactly what section of it was the knife. From the end of the ridge, I followed pieces of a trail around onto the face left of the ridge. I didnt really follow the trail a whole lot, I mostly stuck above it as I found the trail to be loose and crappy in places (I'd rather climb). I climbed up to what I thought may be the summit (highest point you can see from this area). From here I was just a short ways from the summit with little elevation gain. I followed the ridge (very similiar to the ridge after K2) to the summit.
The sky had been real cloudy all morning, and as soon as I summited some low clouds/fog rolled up the valley and started covering the ridge below me. This fog moved off the ridge pretty quick but more was coming up to the summit. Although the weather didnt look bad it wasn't great either. I didnt get very good views from the summit, and left after 10 minutes.
The way down was uneventful, I resummited K2 to get some more looks at the ridge, then down I went. It looked about 10x nicer on the summit then than it did when I was up there. Oh well, thats what you get for waking up early.
The snow was no problem on the way down either, I never postholed.

Backpack out went fine.

Overall it was an awesome climb on a beautiful and fun mountain.

Oh ya, a whole lot of cows the whole way up. Dont go around them, they get out the way without much effort from you.

Times 2:20 to camp
2:20 to summit
2:00 to camp
2:00 to car


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