Peak(s):  Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  07/16/2007
Date Climbed:   07/16/2007
Author:  jamienellis
 No Cows on Capitol!   

Capitol Peak - 14,130'
Route: NE Ridge direct
TH: Capitol Peak 'Ditch Trail'
Mileage / Elev: 17mi, 5,300'
Team: shanahan96 (Jamie Princo); jamienellis (Jamie Nellis)

With the Crestones and Bells traverses looming on our summer schedule, I wanted to get myself more familiar with extended, exposed scrambling. Capitol seemed like just the peak for that! Fortunately, Jamie was willing to repeat it with me even though he had just climbed it last September with Mike.

The Approach - Friday, July 13 - 6.5 miles, 3,000':

We arrived at the Trail Head at 8:45pm Friday evening; got our gear all packed up and were on the trail at 9:30pm. Since Jamie had been up there before, we weren't concerned with route finding in the dark. The hike in to the lake is on a great trail. It is relatively flat, easy and refreshingly cool with no sun. We reached the camp spots just below the lake at 12:45am (3 hrs 15 min from car to lake with heavy backpacks).

Saturday, July 14 - 4 miles, 2,800':

We started from the lake (11,540') at 7am after filtering water for the hike. From the lake there is a good, but steep, trail up to Daly pass (12,500'). The wildflowers in this area are amazing right now!

Wildflowers near the lake

We arrived at the pass at 7:40am and stopped for a 20 minute break.

Capitol / Daly pass

After leaving the saddle we traversed South (right) for a little bit before dropping down through the gully into the boulder field. Another party stayed high, closer to the ridge which seemed to work fine too. There was more snow to deal with on that route that we didn't want to deal with in summer shoes.

Conditions in the basin / boulder field.

While making our way across the boulder field we heard someone calling our names. We looked up to see Jcwhite and his friend, Tyler, on their way down. They had climbed Capitol from their car in like an hour and a half or something crazy. Man or mountian be the judge!?!?

The scree and talus hopping in the boulder field was tedious, so we chose a more direct route up the cliffs below K2. This route required some Class 4 and maybe some low Class 5 moves. The climb can be kept at Class 2+ by staying South under the cliffs as Bill describes in his NE Ridge Route.

Climbing the cliffs to exit the boulder field.

We reached the base of K2 (13,556') at 10am and stopped for a snack and to put on our helmets. We went around the right of the summit of K2 opting to 'bag that one' on the way out. After coming around K2, I was faced with my first view of the infamous ridge.

Climbers on the ridge.

Crossing the knife edge was much more anti-climactic than I anticipated. I actually thought it was a lot of fun! I employed the 'stand on the ledge / use the knife edge as flake' method in a few places and the 'straddle' method in others. Jamie tried to 'balance beam' the entire knife edge until I forced him to get down. He is a sick, sick man!

After crossing the knife edge we remained on the ridge proper instead of taking the standard NE Ridge route. The rock here is solid and there is some fun class 4 and low Class 5 scrambling to the summit.

Shanahan96 scrambling on the ridge.

We arrived on the summit at 11:30 am.

As for the descent - take one of the 2 routes: the standard or the variation (1v in Roach's book) --not something in between! We were going to take the ridge variation on the descent to avoid dropping down into the basin and having to re-climb back to the saddle. If you opt to do this, stay on the ridge crest from K2 to Daly pass!! We dropped down and ended up down-climbing mid-Class 5 cliffs. The whole ordeal took us 3.5 hours from the base of K2 back to camp! Fortunately we had stellar weather and only had to make it back to our tent at the lake; but it was not what we wanted to deal with mentally after climbing Capitol.

A very fun weekend in a very beautiful area! Surprisingly, we saw no cows the entire weekend; but we did see plenty of evidence of them on the trail!

Note: If you plan on camping take lots of sunscreen and bug spray. Also, wear a helmet on this climb. We witnessed several large rock slides from the lake in the afternoon. The snow is melting and things are still settling, making for naturally unstable conditions. Add that to lots of climbers on the route (above and below you) and you have a potential recipe for disaster!

Capitol lake in the early morning.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Comments or Questions

nice work
07/17/2007 03:07
It was awesome seeing you up there, sounds like we took pretty much the same route up. I threw up a TR as well since i had it written before i realized you had already posted one. Congrats on another one.


07/17/2007 03:54
Nice day out on the trail. The knife edge looks fun!


Great Job!
07/18/2007 22:19
Congrads on getting Capitol! Sweet TR and pics too!


07/19/2007 17:21


Well done!
08/28/2008 00:37
I knew you would get this with flying flower colors! I feel a little bit more comfortable about that knife edge, but I always psyche myself for these peaks

Nicely done you two!

Chicago Transplant

11/30/2010 17:28
I knew you'd like this one, its a great fun route! One of my favorites for sure, but its not the same without the cows


11/30/2010 17:28
Between this and jcwhite's TR, I'm sweating my ass off here. This puppy's in the near-future plans. Del Sur, you still in, man? Are you ready to take care of my pussy skirt-wearin' ass?

god, I need another beer to calm my nerves.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with my sailor talk. And I hope I didn't offend any sailors with that comment.

At any rate, great report, Jamie. I for one appreciate your interjections of realism in there.

11/30/2010 17:28
for the comments everyone! Aubrey & del_sur, you guys will like this one! I even made this one my 'favorite' 14er on my profile.
Aubrey, I saw the pics on your Crestone TR...nothing nearly that scary on Capitol!

Scott Rogers

11/30/2010 17:28
Looks like you guys had a good time. I'm looking forward to getting up there in a few weeks. Thanks for posting


Another thumb up
01/19/2011 03:38
Great're only encouraging me. I can't wait until we go next month.
That, BTW, is the same weekend as the Pyramid trip that was.

two thumbs up
02/05/2011 00:22
nice baby! thanks for posting the trip report, you did an awesome job.....just like on the climb


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