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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

Capitol Peak


Capitol Peak

Derek Bartz

Pierre Lakes Basin as seen from the ridge up to K2

Trip Date: August 1, 2015
Location: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
Miles: 17
Vert: 5,500'
Start/Finish: Capitol Creek TH
Permit Required?: Self Register
Season: June-October

After bailing on a planned 40 mile run around Capitol Peak (which I will return and backpack), we decided to just go up it instead.  Actually, we left the TH planning to link Capitol & Snowmass, aka The SnowCap, but that didn't happen either.  A late start and little beta on the route over to Snowmass had us abandoning that idea at the summit of Capitol.  Oh well, definitely something to come back too.

Capitol Peak is a striking peak.  From the trail head you can already tell this isn't going to be your usual Colorado outing.  Capitol's granite shines and the peak towers in the distance as you make the easy approach up the Ditch Trail.  Caleb, Zach, and I ran most of the way to Capitol Lake before settling in for the hiking & scrambling terrain leading to the summit.  Capitol Lake is gorgeous, and sits nestled in below the impressive North Face; amazing campsites are located on the knoll above the lake.  The route up Capitol is fairly straight forward and scrambling up granite boulders is fantastic.  The knife edge adds some excitement and goes easy.  Zach nearly walked across the whole thing; while I scooted a little bit before finally committing to a side and putting some air under my ass.  Looking over to Snowmass from the top was daunting; it looks a long ways away and a steep descent, plenty of boulder hoping, and some route finding lie between you and there.  It goes though, and had it been earlier in the day and there less clouds in the sky, we would've went for it. 

The legs were feeling great on the descent and we cruised back to the traihlhead.  Van to van time was right around 7 hours; with plenty of breaks for pics, chatting, and food. 

Capitol Lake

Caleb cruising the knife edge

 A parting shot from the Capitol Creek TH....great van camping here is you can claim a flat spot

A parting shot from the Capitol Creek TH....great van camping here is you can claim a flat spot