Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
"K2"  -  13,664 feet
Date Posted:  09/08/2010
Modified:  09/16/2010
Date Climbed:   09/05/2010
Author:  ColoNativeinPA
 Capitol Peak and K2 from Capitol Lake   

Success isn't the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. - Arnold H. Glasow.

You Tube link

Capitol Peak - 4 and 5 Sept 2010 - Weather was near perfect. High 70's at the trail head. No precipitation and no bugs. Hiked in on the 4th. Sumitted on 5 Sept 2010. Weather at the peak was probably low 50's with 25 - 30 mph winds.

What an awesome experience! I'm fortunate to hike with two very experienced climbers, Mark and Chance, they were excellent in route finding when we'd inevitably loose the carins.
Mark and Chance getting unpacked and ready

Chance and me

Mark says "We're going right there!"

The hike from the trailhead starts out way too easy. Lulls you to sleep really for the first to 1 mile. Walking along the ditch and just admiring Capitol peak the whole way.
Lulled to sleep by the early part of Capitol Ditch Trail

Capitol in view the whole way - I'm thinking "That's a real mountain!"

The steep hits the fan once you cross the stream and merge with the Snowmass trail. Our climb time to the camp site was roughly 3 hrs.


The campsites were full and we had to improvise but we found two suitable spots and had a gourmet meal of Salmon with Angel Hair pasta and chocolate cookies (I forget the French) combined with a Chub beer for each - maybe the best meal I ever had.
Should send this pic to Chub - get in a commercial

making water

Sunday 5 Sept 2010 - 4am - a knock on my tent - Wake up- Wake up! Oh god - my back is stiff and sore from the hike - Who's ideas was this anyway?
Couple of packs of bloatmeal, 200mg of caffeine goo and a banana and off we go.
The trail to the saddle is steep right off the bat.
Step, step, step, and Chance and Mark are storming up the trail. We reach the saddle and don the brain buckets.
These guys are part mountain goat!

gotta get the calories up

The trail leads low on the other side of the ridge. We tried to maintain as much elevation as we could. But staying high leads to a couple of cliffs and walking the ridge exposes the climber to a lot of wind for a long time. So we opt for a slightly lower route but not quite all the way down to the boulder field.

Eventually, we get to the spot to where we can make an aggressive move for K2. This required some sporty class 4 moves but nothing that required more than 2 or 3 combinations before you're standing up again. We did have one instance where some climbers ahead of us kicked some rocks and one guy almost took one in the melon. At this point we slowed down a little and let the climbers above clear before we made any move.

The summit of K2 was sporty by itself, but totally worth it. I'm glad we didn't bypass it. There was a pair of climbers putting on harnesses and roping in for the rappel down to the trail. I guess that was extra safe but the down climb was VERY grippy and easy if you faced the mountain.
View from K2 - knife edge and Capitol Peak

Next up - the Knife Edge! I can't really tell you how long it took us to get to the knife edge because I was in the zone! I was first to cross. - Plenty of very positive foot and hand holds on the left side of the knife edge. Wind in our face. About 2/3 of the way across the foot holds fade and I shuffle over to the right side for about 5 feet. Jump back over to the left - big juggy holds and then done! Viola!

It was technical and the climber has to stay focused but very, very doable. I actually felt better about the crossing on the ascent then the descent. It's probably due to being tired and less adrenaline.
After the knife edges there's still some good work left to do with some sporty exposed climbing in the mix

The summit was probably another 30 to 45 minutes away from the knife edge.
Mandatory sumitt photos here



Here I have an editorial comment. As a rule I'm a live and let live kind of guy. BUT - on the way to K2 on the descent we passed a guy with 2 kids, a boy and a girl no more than 8 to 10 years old. They were not wearing helmets and on their way to the knife edge and summit. No one on the trail could believe it. And we did hear that the little girl froze up on the knife edge, I hope everything turned out safely.
To the father of those kids, if you're subscriber to, please, please reconsider taking your kids on a technical climb like Capitol. And if you do, then double up on the safety, make them wear a helmet. Cross first with a rope and anchor in, have someone on the other end anchor in and then put the kid in a harness and secure them with a locking biner. Then, maybe I could buy into having kids on a summit like Capitol. OK done with the editorial.

The descent is the descent - long the boulder field was full of VW size boulders (bounce from boulder to boulder.) Couple of minor tricky down climbs but for the most part just trying not to lose elevation as we make our way to the saddle.
We finally made it to the saddle and start to delayer for the descent to camp. We spotted some mountain goats on Mt Daly and as I turned to look a kicked my helmet all the way down the wrong side of the saddle! DAMN IT! I say let it go - Mark says - I'm going after it - ~200 ft down. And there he goes. ( I bought him a beer afterwards - he's 2/3 mountain goat I guess - that guy can climb like crazy)

Down the saddle we took some awesome shots of Capitol again, break camp and start slogging to the car.


Funny how exhaustion and lack of adrenaline adds miles to a return hike.
All in all - Truly a life experience.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
09/08/2010 19:44
Great report. What a DB for not having helmets on his kids.

James Scott

Well Done!
09/08/2010 19:55
Enjoyed the pictures- what a great climb.
If the father with the two kids was Scott Patterson (he had his kids up Capitol a week or so ago), I should mention that his son Kessler, approx 8-10 yrs old, has summitted literally over 100 peaks. I appreciate your concern for the kids- I really do. Too often parents are really irresponsible, but on this one I think the kids might have far more experienced than seems possible.

John Young

Nice Report
09/08/2010 20:35
I think maybe YOU'RE part mountain goat.


Great Adventure
09/08/2010 20:45
No spontaneous combustion on this trip. You, Mark, and Chance really set yourselves and each other on fire! Way to go in climbing this classic route. A nicely crafted narrative with fine photos. Thanks for sharing! Onward and upward...


09/08/2010 21:25
I loved your photo of Capitol from the Knifes Edge. The shadows make for a dramatic picture. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Maybe if an 8 year old can make it, I can someday get up the courage to climb it myself.


Way to go!
09/13/2010 16:35
That dinner sounds yummy (and love the Old Chub) ... congrats on the summit. I must confess the first time I climbed Capitol, I was following three generations ... a man in his 60's, his son in his 30's and his grandson who was about 10 years old. I embraced the mindset of Harkness Hooligans ... we all summited. Take care and happy trails!

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