Capitol Punishment

      14 Comments on Capitol Punishment

Taking in the views of Pierre Lakes basin and the rest of the Elk Range on the descent

We bring it on ourselves. Primarily resulting from the activities we partake in and the way we go about pursuing those activities. The idea was simple. Climb capitol in a day from the car going as light and fast as possible. Now I’m not talking Andrew Hamilton fast, but deliberate fast. At the last “first Friday” block party in Golden I mentioned this idea to Carl and he agreed it sounded like a fun day. The last time he climbed capitol without skis was like 8 years ago and he wanted to revisit the peak, he was in. We chose a couple weekends with some weather flexibility and a plan was set.

The gear choice was simple. Smallest pack I own (an 18L mtn biking pack from osprey – the raptor) stuffed with a rain jacket, feather weight beanie, thin glove liners, head lamp, brain bucket, small bottle of sunscreen, can of Pringles, a bottle of Gatorade, a 1L Nalgene (which was nearly empty leaving the TH in the morning), Brookside Blueberry Acai chocolates, a PP&J sandwich (which I didn’t eat), and a package of honey stinger fruit smoothie gummies (competes with pink lemonade for best flavor). Oh yeah and Carl carried a small UV water filter so we could refill water once we neared the outlet of Capitol lake on the way up.

The logistics were simple. We drove down Friday night, sleeping at the capitol creek TH. Carl slept in his 4runner as per usual, and me in the bear delicacy – the prepackaged human burrito wrapper. On the ditch trail Saturday am by 5am, a few short breaks and a cold barefooted river crossing later found ourselves at the K2-Daly saddle at 8. Blasted up K2, scooted across the knife edge (which is cool but overrated in my opinion) bobbed and weaved through the upper ridge arriving at the summit at 10:30. Carl’s chicken tenders paired well with my Pringles and chocolate. After taking in the views, downing a little more Gatorade and water, we left the summit just prior to 11 and more or less retraced our steps back towards K2. Caught up with a couple other groups descending K2 and met some fellow Grand Junctionites (Climb on Lisa and Alyssa!!). Weather was beginning to look threatening so we hustled back to the saddle and started to jog down the trail towards Capitol lake. We nearly made the lake before being forced to don rain jackets due to the standard early afternoon mountain weather (hail, rain, thunder and lightning). Continuing to jog down trail, we stopped briefly a couple times to talk with backpackers headed to the lake that had taken cover from the rain. At this point the trail had more in common with a small river than a trail and Carl and I were totally soaked, head to toe, so we kept going maintaining a purposeful pace with some jogging where it made sense. The rain turned the trail to a muddy sloppy mess but the rain did eventually stop, after like 2 hours, but unfortunately the mud did not stop, it continued for miles……all the way back to the truck. The mud made for some slow going – the trail basically became a slip’n slide. One out of balance foot placement would have landed your ass in mud, or cow shit. We eventually arrived back at the truck at 3:30 where beer and a dry change of clothes were waiting. And I have to say, stripping down naked (discretely?) at a trail head at the end of a day really is invigorating, I suggest you try it some time. Qdoba in Glenwood on the way out finished the day. All in all it was another great adventure in the hills!

Capitol seen on the hike early in the day

Capitol dominates the view for nearly the entire approach. Seen early in the day.

Herding the cattle. A few

Herding the cattle. A couple “Ya! Out of the way derby!” and they moved right along. Although a few did look at us with malicious intent. “What do you want from me? I had chick fillet for dinner yesterday!”

Over the saddle with Daly (seen behind) and off towards K2.

Over the saddle with Daly (seen behind) and upwards towards K2. Stupid finger.

Carl nearing the top of K2.

Carl nearing the top of K2. Pilates at 13,650 anyone?

Crossing the legendary knife edge.

Crossing the legendary knife edge.

This section of the climb became a little clustered due to a few different groups heading up and down.

This section of the climb became a little clustered due to a few different groups colliding in this area.

Summit! This view doesn't get old.

Summit! This view does not get old. Pyramid really does get dominated by the bells from most all angles.

Back across the knife edge on the return.

Carl crossing the knife edge on the return.

Getting tired of pictures of the knife edge yet?

Getting tired of pictures of the knife edge yet? All joking aside, this mountain is one giant piece of granite.

Getting drenched on the jog out. The trail is already a creek.

Getting drenched on the jog out. The trail is already a creek.

Yup. Totally soaked.

Yup. Totally soaked. My face says I’m over it. Mother nature says the suffering has only just begun.

14 thoughts on “Capitol Punishment

  1. DKYarian (Zambo)

    Nice man! Did you guys drop from the K2-Daly saddle or take the ridge direct? Way to do a burner on this. I’ve had similar thoughts myself, actually. It would be a fun one to redo.

    1. Rick Post author

      Thanks Zambo! We dropped from the K2-Daly saddle over taking the ridge direct. Hind sight being what it is we should have taken the ridge direct.

  2. Brandon Chalk

    Yeah, Rick! Way to get er done in a day, buddy! It is fun to redo the interesting 14ers especially when its been a several year hiatus. OK, question: I still believe our Eagle’s Nest to Powell traverse was a bigger day last summer with J & Marc. What say you? 🙂
    In fact, I’m heading in this Friday to Cap lake to attempt the NW Butt on ole Cap. Stoked to get back in there.
    Great report & pics, buddy.

    1. Rick Post author

      Jealous Brando! Was staring at the NW buttress for a while thinking how sweet it would be to climb that monster. Have fun!
      Yeah, our day on eagles nest – powell was a bigger day. And, perhaps not surprisingly, held better, more sustained, more interesting, and more fun climbing too!!

  3. Ben

    Nice Richard. A speed run on Cap makes for a sweet day out. Of all of them, I’d say this one and Pyramid are the two must-do’s. Oh wait, and Columbia, definitely Columbia ;).
    Seriously though, good work!

  4. Brian

    Cap in a day from the trailhead is in fact capital punishment. 10 counts of murder to your knees in the first! Those cows looked worried Rick, did something happen before that pic was taken that we should know about? Surprising to see how much snow has stuck around in Pierre Lakes.
    Oh, and you can’t describe such things as the “Daly-Capitol saddle”. That’s confusing to Carl (he can’t see 13ers)

    1. Rick Post author

      Hahaha. A gentlemen never tells Brian! And, well, that’s a typo I need to fix. Should be the K2-Daly saddle, but regardless……Camping trip soon!

  5. Dillon Sarnelli

    Ricardo! always nice to see a report from you dude! You’re right, that isn’t a bike helmet. haha. Looks like a great day in the Elks man. Looking forward to Molas Pass!

  6. summithound

    Enjoyed the report, Rick! Capitol is one of the state’s great peaks, and if you consider a 3peat down the road, I think you’d enjoy the ridge direct.

    1. Rick Post author

      Thanks Steve! Carl and I considered the ridge direct, but we were thinking speed on this particular day. The standard route was probably a poor choice cause I wasn’t really all that impressed with the scrambling capitol offered!

  7. Floyd

    Selfies and 14ers… What site is this? All kidding aside, Capitol is a worthy adversary and a peak that I’d like to revisit someday. If it was 12,999 ft, I’d probably look to climb it every weekend.

    1. Rick Post author

      hahaha! Scot, this site really has gone down hill recently. They’ll let just about anyone put up a TR here……;)


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