July 27, 2008

Capitol Peak

All right. Even I'll admit that there is a repetitive nature to my recent posts. With that said, don't expect anything to change for at least a few more posts.

Last weekend I drove back out to the Elk Range to climb Capitol Peak. Capitol is a bit on the anomalous side as far as Colorado peaks go. The view from the north makes it appear to be a solid granite monolith, similar to something you'd see out in Yosemite valley. Upon closer inspection, the rock is more weathered than it appears from a distance and one is reminded that they are still in the Elk Range of Colorado.

Capitol Peak

My trip involved backpacking through fields of wildflowers for 7 miles on Friday night to a beautiful lake at the base of the mountain's daunting north face.

The beautiful Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

The lake and the peak

Beginning at 5am the next morning, I started up a variation of the standard route on the northeast ridge. I stayed on or very close to the ridge crest for about a mile before reaching the famous Knife Edge Ridge. All the guidebooks and trip reports I'd read really build this ridge up and make it sound like crossing it is an incredibly intense experience. Although the ridge does come to a point and form an unusually geometric edge, the drop off on either side is not as steep as I was lead to believe. Possibly due to my recent slacklining practice, I was able to comfortably walk these knife-edge stretches like a balance beam.

The final ridge to the summit as seen from Point K2

Amy getting ready to cross the knife edge (I'm in the background and stole this picture from her posting on the 14ers website. We were supposed to meet up the night before and climb together, but that didn't work out and I didn't find her until we were crossing the knife edge in opposite directions.)

I spent about a half hour on the summit, taking in the views of nearby Snowmass Peak and the more distant Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak. I was able to descend, pack up my camp, hike out, and arrive back in Boulder by 4pm, in time to drink beer and play volleyball until it got dark.

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