Capitol Peak, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

September 12 to 14 1999

"The peaks prism-shaped top and precipitous sides forbid access"

Henry Gannet (1846-1914) speaking of Capitol Peak, 1874 Hayden Survey

Brian, Ted, and Brian's friend ShinHan (who also makes an appearance in next years hiking trip) were the participant's in this years trip. Bob didn't make it because of constraints at work and regrets not coming to this day.

Brian and ShinHan flew into DIA and met up with Ted at his parent's house. They drove to the trail head in the rental. The road to the trail head from Snowmass Village was rather uneventful for the first few miles, but got increasingly more tough the closer to the trail head. They soon came across a flipped over Subaru just prior to the tail head parking area.

The hike started at an elevation roughly that of base camp, which made hiking easy. They used a less traveled route which made traveling on a crisp fall day very pleasant. There was beautiful crisp fall weather with the aspens changing to their fall colors, yellow and orange. Snow dusted the ground at higher elevations. Brian started feeling poorly, and was either sick and/or did not acclimatize well, which made him pretty wiped on the first night at base camp Spud.

The next day, the approach to Capital Peak began. This involved getting to a pass and then traversing around an accessory peak before getting to the knife edge that Capital Peak is known for. Brian still felt poorly, so Ted scouted out the traverse. He came back and said that an early snow had made the descent to the knife-edge very treacherous. Ted came back at a later date to get this one.

They then did a nice hike to the lake at the base of Capital Peak. The following day, they drove back to Denver and left for their respective homes.

he Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (181,535 acre) is a Wilderness Area located in the Elk Mountains of central Colorado. This wilderness was established in 1980 by Congress in the Gunnison and White River national forests. The wilderness is named after the two peaks known as the Maroon Bells, and the Snowmass Mountain.

Capitol Peak (14137 ft) is the 52nd highest mountain in North America and lies on the long ridge connecting the heart of the Elk Mountains with Mount Sopris to the northwest. Capitol Peak is one of the most difficult of Colorado's fourteeners to climb. The only non-technical route, the Northeast Ridge, requires crossing the famously exposed "Knife Edge," the northeast ridge of Capitol. Other routes require technical rock climbing.

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An ominous beginning Trail head to destination On the trail At the beginning of the ascent of Capitol Peak on the south slope of K2 High on the south slope of K2 South side of K2 K2 panorama Capitol Lake Our intrepid hikers at Base Camp Spud (Brian, Ted) Capitol Peak from base camp At Base Camp Spud (Ted, Brian, ShinHan) Heading out