A first glimpse of Capitol Peak from near the trailhead...
and a closer look
Typical (that is to say, gorgeous) scenery on the hike into camp. I cannot think of a more spectacular approach to a 14er than this one
Capitol and Daly reflected in an area of standing water
Brad fording Capitol Creek just before the end of the Ditch Trail. Would it kill 'em to put a bridge in here? =P
Just one of a seemingly infinite variety of wildflowers...
Perhaps 15 minutes below camp, here is part of the Capitol ridgeline
The summit rising imposingly out of the trees
Brad surmounting the one bit of significant snow on the approach
At last, near camp, with Capitol presiding over all
More wildflowers. The pictures don't do it justice!
Capitol Lake, a placid mountain setting and a good place to consider the climb ahead
The largely snow-free slope up to the saddle, which can be reached by a trail
Me, apparently trying to be gangsta or something
Looking back into the valley and the way we came
Spectacular pinnacles on the slopes of Capitol
Sunset drawing near...this was a sight to behold
The now-rust-red summit
The day's last light begins to fade...time to get some sleep, unless your name is Brad
The next morning, dawning calm, cool, and clear
Brad reaching the top of the snowfields at 13200', K2 ahead. Only 900' of vertical remains between us and the top of Capitol, but the climb has barely begun...
The Maroon Bells at left, Snowmass at right
At K2, the standard route to the top appeared to be complicated by snow. Brad found a cairned route to this 4th class ascent, probably one of the scariest parts of the entire route
At last, Capitol appears. Brad is atop K2 here
Some pretty reddish mountains, Mt. Sopris in the background
The descent from K2 on the way to Capitol. We took the skyline down to the rock fins in the middle--probably class 3 at most. Easier than I'd feared
The side of K2 you do NOT want to descend! These cliffs were literally overhanging
Snowmass Mountain, a few miles to the south. Little did we know tragedy would strike there only a day later...
Across the knife edge and the ridge now, here is what remains. Lots of route-finding, scrambling, careful navigating, and the very occasional easy stretch of trail
A bit closer now, I think we'd popped up onto the main ridge at this point
One of the parts of the traverse with more dirt than rock. You can almost see the faint way through this mess
Brad ascending the part near the gray gully (4th class). Probably the other part of this route that scared me the most. To my surprise, though, I was able to face outward for most of the downclimb
The Pierre Lakes and the Elks stretching off into the distance
Summit! A sea of peaks to the SW
Looking west toward Mt. Sopris
Looking north toward Capitol Lake, our campsite (just beyond it) and our approach route up this broad valley
Brad and I on the summit. But the climb is really only half over...
On the descent, looking toward K2
Some climbers who got a much later start than us, beginning the climb up onto Capitol's face
Capitol Lake, 2000' straight down!
The infamous "knife edge", which Brad and I found to be overhyped. With care, the scramble across is relatively easy, and almost entirely on very solid rock
Brad rocking the knife edge
The Pierre Lakes again, still somewhat frozen over
Knife edge again
This is the view of the exposure from the knife edge down the west face of the ridge. Not vertical, but still not somewhere you'd want to fall!
A last unobstructed look at this side of Capitol. Now only one short downclimb on K2 remains
The tough part is over! I enjoyed a bit of glissading down this upper snowfield
A long talus-y section coming down the basin (one can also travel on snow to the L, not seen here). Mt. Daly looms high above
Looking back at the upper part of the basin
A lower snowfield. Brad tried traversing here to the saddle, and reported it sketchy. I preferred to just bite the bullet and glissade to the base, heading up the slopes to the saddle
My 300-something-foot scramble back up to the ridge. I still beat Brad though, and I believe he owes me 10 push-ups! ;)
Looking back into the basin from the saddle. The snow in the foreground is easily avoidable
The view on the other side of the saddle
We were up THERE!!?
Capitol Lake and the slopes back to camp. It's never felt so good to be on a trail again!
Spectacular views and spectacular wildflowers
Capitol and wildflowers 1
Capitol and wildflowers 2
On the hike out now
Back at the trailhead...what a mountain.