Capitol Peak

Michael Kennedy on a winter ascent of the Northwest Buttress.

Capitol is unique among the fourteeners in Colorado, with the easiest route to the summit being a 4th class scramble across an incredibly exposed ridge. Anyone who has spent a night at Capitol Lake has probably stared in awe at the impressive north face of the mountain, maybe even wishing the rock was better so we could explore more of this alpine giant. In colder conditions though, your options are better, as the shattered mess is frozen together and ephemeral drips may just link up to form a climbable line up the peak.

The Slingshot coulouir often ices up in the fall, and if you catch it in the right shape you can climb a good line all the way to the summit following ice and rock features for several pitches. There is a photo gallery on with pictures from an ascent of this line made by Scott Leonard and Royal Laybourn in 2004. Michael Kennedy and Lou Dawson also climbed a route up the north face in winter somewhere in this vicinity, although the exact line is not known at this time.

The Crystal Dragon is a new line that was put up by Royal Laybourn and Kevin Dunnett in the fall of 2007. It was attempted several times over a couple of years before it was found to be in good enough condition for an ascent. Expect a couple pitches of steep ice followed by mixed climbing in the M6 to M7 range. The line apparently tops out close to the knife edge.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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