Capitol Peak - 14137' - NE Ridge Class 3
Mount Daly - 13300' - South ridge Class 2
My Mount Daly Page on SP
This was our finale. I needed to climb Colorado's toughest 14er and I wanted Josh to climb it as well. It was now July and we had a great weather forecast and I was very excited. We drove to the Capitol Creek Trailhead and camped for the night. We were going to take two days for this grand peak so we slept in and took our time getting going. It wasn't until around 10am when we started on the Capitol Ditch Trail. There were so many cars at the trailhead I couldn't believe it. So we were off. The trail was very flat and we were making good time. Before we knew it we arrived at Capitol Creek and found a log to cross on. The next 3 miles to Capitol Lake felt like to took for ever but we made it and found the best designated camp spot around up on a hill overlooking the lake and Capitol Peak. We cooked some food and took a nap as it wasn't late yet. It rained a little bit later that afternoon forcing us to put the rainfly on while half asleep but just as the rain stopped we saw a glorious sunset over Capitol Peak. Everyone else camped nearby ran up our hill to see it and we had a little party for a couple minutes! Just as fast as the glow came it was gone and everyone went to sleep. We wanted to get up very early to avoid any chance of storms. So at 4am we got up and started up the trail to Daly Saddle. The sun rose when we were halfway up and we made quick work getting there. Now the fun began. We side traversed and descended slightly on the other side of the ridge and hiked over talus all the way up to K2. From here I got to see the Pierre Lakes Basin for all it was. Clark Peak, Snowmass Mountain and the Pierre Lakes certainly ranks as one of Colorado's best alpine cirques. From K2 we could clearly see the route ahead. We saw the entire ridge including the Knife edge. So we dropped off K2 which proved to be the hardest part of the day. Once on the NE ridge of Capitol Peak we quickly got to the knife edge and crossed it with no problem. I was in disbelief how much hype that thing has it was so easy and not really that exposed.
After the knife edge we basically traversed just to the left side of the ridge the rest of the way to the summit. I never thought any part of the climb exceeded class 3 and if you grade it based on the west coast YDS bias you could argue the entire climb is class 2+ however class 3 would be what I call it. Although I have done some class 2 climbs in the Cascades harder than Capitol. Once on the summit I was thrilled! I had just climbed the toughest 14er and thought nothing of it...I guess I am advancing in my mountaineering skills after all. We spent quite a bit of time here admiring the views and I took a good hard look at the traverse to Snowmass mountain. Man that is gnarly. After getting lots of great photos, we began the descent back to the Daly Saddle. We managed to get back to K2 easily but got separated after that. Josh took a harder way back while I went the way we came. Once we met up once again we went back to Daly Saddle and dropped our packs. I wanted to summit Mount Daly as well and Josh agreed to try. He was feeling the altitude by now but he kept up well. The first part of the Daly climb is very loose and we went through a big arch which was pretty cool. Some class 3 scrambling up chimneys and on the crest was needed but after the halfway point it was easy walking the rest of the way to the summit. The view of Capitol Peak from here was breathtaking. One of the best summit views I have ever seen in Colorado. What a commanding mountain Capitol is and with the blue lake below the view was perfect. I waited for 20 minutes at the summit for Josh just admiring the views and when he finally made it I had to take photos for him he was so tired. He did great though as we spent the whole day above 13k feet. The clouds were just perfect too with puffy white clouds passing overhead but not developing into storms at all. Eventually though we made our way back to the tent and hiked out to the trailhead and got to the car an hour or so before dark at which point a nice dinner at the Aspen Dominos was in order.