LooseCrew-JeffO: Aspen and Capitol Peak


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Aspen and Capitol Peak

Since I'm injured, I obviously couldn't run the Vasque Golden Leaf Half Marathon. What an awesome race! I did get to party with friends, lounge in the hot tub and pool, and generally chill-out.

We met at Bentley's for beer and burgers. The poor waiter - we just kept coming! A dozen, 18, 22, 26! Yikes! He said we were like a virus! But he got 20-21% tip, so he was fine with that.

We totally took over the hotel! There was, like, 29 of us, all together.

Race day was gloriously fine. No wind and much warmer than the forecast. In fact, if anything was wrong, some people may have over-dressed a tad and cooked during the race.
I played taxi driver and gear-hauler. Since it's a point-to-point, taking the shuttle would be a hassle.

Lance kicked butt. Many years ago, he was FAT!!! He was the fastest one in the group on raceday. What a stud!

We ate dinner at an Italian place, and then the livelier ones went dancing afterward. I put this tired old man to bed. How pathetic, huh?

The next day, I had coffee with Kelly and Leah, then left town for Capitol Peak.

Again, the weather was awesome. I loaded up with full gear for the first time since I took my son backpacking below Holy Cross Peak last year. This time I wore my Montrail trail running shoes. I don't see how anyone can make a habit our of running in these - they really are boots. Several times, i stepped right on the point of some sharp rocks and nothing poked through. Protection is one thing, but with 50lbs or so of gear, and still can't tell I'm stepping on a rock, that's a bit excessive. But perfect for backpacking!! I will certainly be able to wear these shoes out.

I met six people on the trail, always in pairs. Two of them, in separate groups, proclaimed the peak "unclimbable".

I got up to the upper camp sites just before the sun dipped below the ridges. Being a Sunday night, there were only two other people in the valley, and they were out of sight and sound.

With such dismal reviews from the other climbers, I didn't take the next day's climb that seriously. I got out of bed late, had a luxurious breakfast, and finally left camp at 9:10am.

I wasn't sure what the route was, except that I was supposed to climb up Daly Pass. So I did. Then I was surprised to see that I had to climb down a very steep gully into a serious rock-pile. The snow made figuring out safe places to step really hard. Add to that, I had to figure out what the proper route was. It was slow.

It was okay - it's what I came for, I guess. Beautiful scenery above treeline. I just took it easy - no rush - be careful.

The weather was just unreal, how comfortable it was. The only concern was the scalding high-altitude sun.

When I got to K2, I saw there was snow, and I wasn't certain ab out which way to continue, but it looked completely climbable to me. Except for two important things... I'm chicken, and I left way too late. It was 12:30pm and still hours worth of Knife Edge ridge between me and the summit.

Every time I looked at Capitol from a near distance, I kept thinking, what a chunk of ROCK! It is such a huge, jutting ridge of almost solid rock.

I got out in the nick of time. The wind began to blow before I got over Daly Pass coming back. It never let up, either. It just got worse over night. I had half considered climbing the next day, but there was NO WAY I was going to go over the Knife Edge in gusting winds, rain, and snow.

I drove over Independence Pass to eat dinner in Leadville, slept east of town in my CR-V, then drove in the rain to do breakfast at the Provin' Grounds.
It was wind and rain most of the way home. Glad I was a day ahead of schedule, because I wouldn't have gotten as far on Capitol otherwise.

This is the first real vacation I've had in a couple of years. It was nice.


At 5:08 PM, Blogger Sunshine Girl said...

Aaaaah. Good people, good times. And let's not forget quality solo time in beautiful places! Relax well, JeffO!


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