Capitol Peak was the place to be on MLK weekend, with three parties making it up the challenging peak, including two rare and exceptionally fast midwinter single-day ascents—possibly the earliest one-day winter climbs ever done on Capitol. On Saturday the team was Stefan Griebel and brothers Charlie and Max Nuttelman, who had scouted the route to Moon Lake on December 30 and laid plans to attempt the peak on the next good weekend, hoping to do it as close to the winter solstice as possible. You know, for bonus challenge.
The three started at 12:15 a.m., anticipating a 15- to 18-hour day. With little new snow in the previous two weeks, good weather, and the benefit of their old tracks part of the way, the team raced up to Moon Lake, climbed over K2, and arrived at the Knife Edge way ahead of schedule—it was only just starting to get light! Safely across the ridge, they started up the delicate snow-covered slabs, moving very carefully without roping up. They were on top at 8:45, just 8.5 hours from the car. Descending the upper ridge with one rappel, they carefully reversed the Knife Edge and picked up their skis, returning to the car by 1:30. Charlie Nuttelman has posted an excellent TR, photos, and a video account of this great day at his blog.
One day later, John “Homie” Prater and Bill Wright, also from the Boulder area, drafted in the tracks of their friends and three other climbers (see below) to make another impressive one-day journey up the peak. The two started at 4:15 a.m., with Wright skiing on light NNN gear and Prater walking and snowshoeing. Despite Wright’s difficulties with his skinny skis, they made it to the ridge and overcame three short cruxes on the upper peak, reaching the summit after 7 hours 40 minutes. With a mad dash down—including some running (!) by the snowshoe-carrying Prater once they reached packed trails—the two returned to the car just 12:07 after leaving. Click here to read Wright’s account of this extraordinary ascent and find a large gallery of photos.
Making a somewhat more subdued but equally satisfying two-day journey up the peak were Steve Gladbach, Mark Nieport, and Kiefer Thomas. The trio camped at around 11,200 feet, then set a snowshoe track up to 12,200 to prepare for the next day. With a predawn start, they were on top by late morning, having belayed a few pitches on the upper peak. Gladbach has posted a beautifully illustrated report at 14ers.com.
Congratulations to all three parties for these great efforts!