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Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol
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iceisnice


Feb 12, 2005, 2:40 PM
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Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol
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hey, looking for a partner to climb the northwest butress of Capitol Peak in march. I'm trying to get some training in for a trip to Peru this summer. Doing the north face of the grand teton next week and the north face of sneffels in mid march. This route has been one I've looked at for a while and would like to do a winter ascent of it if anyone is interested. It goes at 5.9, although it is only one pitch of 5.9 (the 1st pitch and its a hand crack), then a pitch of 5.8 and the rest is 5.7ish with a few hundred feet of 4th class stuff. I have march 3-6 and 28-31 available should anyone be interested. It is gonna require a long approach on skis to get there too.


climb14er


Feb 15, 2005, 9:23 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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Climbing Capitol's NW Buttress in winter is some undertaking. I don't think it has been climbed in winter, but I could be wrong.

Out of curiosity, have you ever been up Capitol, in summer or in winter via the 'standard' knife edge/K2 route? I ask this because even if you were to successfully climb the NW route, you would have to exit via the knife edge route over K2, then down and then up to the saddle over Capitol Lake, then down the face to the lake.

No one has done Capitol in the winter in a one day push via the standard route. Climbing Capitol in winter via the standard route is usually a three day, or VERY long two day trip.


iceisnice


Feb 15, 2005, 10:58 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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it has been climbed several times in winter and was first climbed in the 80's (i think). yes, i've done the knife ridge, which is pretty much a hike. not worried about that. i was planning on bivying at the face and doing the climb in a single push back to the bivy spot. a serious undertaking? yeah, but it sounds like my kind of climbing. and, i don't wanna do the route in summer first. my intention is to do a technical winter ascent without too much prior knowledge. for anyone interested, it is gonna have to be at the end of march as i dislocated my shoulder the other day and will have to push my grand teton north face climb back to the 3-6 of march.


climb14er


Feb 15, 2005, 1:31 PM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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For some reason, I've never seen it documented anywhere that the NW Buttress was done in the winter. Do you have any recorded information, dates, who did it?

For the edification of the forum, the knife edge nor any of its components are not a 'walk-in-the-park' in the winter. Far from it. Especially coming down either the top ridge or part of the SW face from the summit to the knife ridge itself. There is avalanche danger below K2 and the area under the saddle.

Good luck!

Forgot to mention: for it to be a 'winter route', it'll have to be done between Dec 22nd and March 22nd, or the solstice to the equinox. Sorry, I'm not being picky, them's are the rules.


slabmonger


Feb 16, 2005, 7:37 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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Don't have the full details right now but Lou Dawson and Michael Kennedy did one of the routes on this face in winter back in the 70s, from what I can remember.

From:
http://www.wildsnow.com/biography/resume_dawson_mountaineering.html
- summer/fall/winter 1973 through winter/spring 1974
Capitol Peak, North Face, first winter ascent of Slingshot Couloir direct with Michael Kennedy. Aspen, Colorado

Don't know about NW buttress specifically though but some of the other Aspen locals might have done this: Beidleman, ?


climb14er


Feb 16, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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Dawson and Kennedy did the Knife Edge in the winter and I did see a pic of them on the south side past the knife edge climbing on steep snow. Kennedy went back a few years later and just after the equinox, he did an amazing one day ski, climb and return to the TH.

There's a lot of talk around re: someone doing the NW Buttress in the winter but after all my year's climbing, I have not spoken to nor heard a person take credit for climbing it in the winter. Like I said, I could be wrong.

I'm going to contact Bill Forrest, one of Colorado's pre-eminent climbers and see if he has any recollection as to who might have climbed the route in the winter. Bill, BTW, did an amazing first traverse between Snowmass and Capitol back in the mid 60's. He's also for those that don't know, one of the finest gear and ice tool designers!


refugee


Feb 16, 2005, 10:20 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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i'm pretty sure kennedy did a one day "winter" ascent of the knife ridge one day before winter officially began


climb14er


Feb 16, 2005, 10:58 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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I spoke with Bill Forrest and he didn't know anyone who had climbed the NW Buttress in winter. He thought Mike Kennedy would know but didn't know if Kennedy did it.

Like I said, NO ONE has done a one day successful climb and return to TH in winter.

In reply to:
i'm pretty sure kennedy did a one day "winter" ascent of the knife ridge one day before winter officially began

How the heck could it be a winter ascent ONE DAY BEFORE winter officially begins? :roll:

If my memory is well, he did the successful climb after the equinox, after winter ended, in early spring.


iceisnice


Feb 17, 2005, 12:26 PM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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i'm pretty sure it was done in 1972. can't remember by whom. i saw a pic once of someone doing it and researched it. i wanna say i saw it in the AAJ, but not positive. anyway, i'm not too interested in whether someone has done it or not. AND.........i REALLY don't care if it technically isn't winter. i'm not that kind of climber that i want a tick list of climbs and when done. i just want a technical climb, in winterish conditions, at altitude (that's relatively speaking as "altitude isn't really big deal in the lower 48). i'm well aware of the avy potential around K2, that kinda goes without saying. as for the descent down the knife ridge.....i've done MUCH more technical ridges in winter and i've done the knife ridge in summer. so, i realize i haven't actually been on the ridge in winter, but i can get an idea and i don't see a problem. the biggest problem seems to be finding someone who wants to give this kind of climb an attempt!! hehe


climb14er


Feb 17, 2005, 1:49 PM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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I guess the reason why no one is stepping to the plate is that the NW Buttress is one climb that even very experienced climbers will NOT do in winter. Plus the avy danger is super high up that valley on off the peak.

BTW, I've climbed many winter and very difficult routes in the Tetons and in the Park, even before the advent of recent new tech equipment. For me, there is NO way I would do the Buttress, and most of my friends and other experienced climbers I know will say the same. Then again, levels of pain and risk all come with the territory, eh?

Again, good luck to you in your endeavors.


iceisnice


Feb 18, 2005, 9:44 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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pain, risk, suffering? sounds like my kind of climbing. hehehe. i realize not too many people would want to try this. and the fact that so many people seem uninterested kinda makes me even more interested. do any of your friends specifically say why they wouldn't want to do it? tehcnically speaking its no harder than routes in RMNP, Tetons, Winds, etc that are done in the winter. The avy danger sucks, but its nothing different than what we deal with on a continual basis here in the San Juans. Its a hell of an approach, but that usually seems to attract a certain breed of climbers. I guess I'm confused cuz this is a VERY attractive climb (to the right kind of climber i guess, hehe) and am surprised to here of so few people attempting it (or even considering attempting it). its sounds like a hell of an adventure though!


climb14er


Feb 18, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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The route is appealing to many but sometimes common sense dictates caution. The route in and around Capitol is avy central. This is something that is not taken lightly. This is one reason why Capitol's standard route is considered very dangerous in the winter. Look around as you remember. There's avy danger surrounding the peak. That's if you can get to the lake from the TH safely. In fact, many of the routes in the Elks are steep and completely loaded with snow re: avy's.

Sure, many have crossed tougher ridges than the knife edge or the direct ridge to the summit. I think what one sees is that getting to the peak is something that is somewhat difficult in and of itself. If you look at the stats, Capitol, and even Snowmass, get very few visitors in the winter. Look not so hard and there are reasons for this.

I've never climbed the NW Buttress but have seen it, both in summer and winter. There is a usually a lot of snow load in the couloir. It's cold up there getting little sunshine. It's a formidable route with not too much retreat. Once on the summit, you've got to negotiate down, via the ridge or the face to the knife edge. Once there, you've got to head to K2 which should go fairly straight forward. Then you've got to head down and this is loaded with snow. Then around, then up to the saddle, then down to the lake.

It's the kind of route that demands full concentration all the time.

Why has no one to my knowledge climbed it in winter? I think some of the reasons are listed above. If you find a partner and you go for it. Kudos! If you're successful, I'll be one of the first to compliment you in your TR.

You mention the San Juans. The valley to Capitol is pretty narrow in places. In the San Juans, you have a mix of wide valleys and narrow corridors. If you think of it, many of the routes that are accessed in the tight, avy prone areas, also do not see a lot of climber attention. The avy risk at Capitol and in the SJ in places is awesome. Hence, caution takes precedence in both places. Especially this year. The Elks and SJ are loaded with snow, as you well know.

My .02.


climb14er


Feb 18, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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The route is appealing to many but sometimes common sense dictates caution. The route in and around Capitol is avy central. This is something that is not taken lightly. This is one reason why Capitol's standard route is considered very dangerous in the winter. Look around as you remember. There's avy danger surrounding the peak. That's if you can get to the lake from the TH safely. In fact, many of the routes in the Elks are steep and completely loaded with snow re: avy's.

Sure, many have crossed tougher ridges than the knife edge or the direct ridge to the summit. I think what one sees is that getting to the peak is something that is somewhat difficult in and of itself. If you look at the stats, Capitol, and even Snowmass, get very few visitors in the winter. Look not so hard and there are reasons for this.

I've never climbed the NW Buttress but have seen it, both in summer and winter. There is a usually a lot of snow load. It's cold up there getting little sunshine. It's a formidable route with not too much retreat. Once on the summit, you've got to negotiate down, via the ridge or the face to the knife edge. Once there, you've got to head to K2 which should go fairly straight forward. Then you've got to head down and this is loaded with snow. Then around, then up to the saddle, then down to the lake.

It's the kind of route that demands full concentration all the time.

Why has no one to my knowledge climbed it in winter? I think some of the reasons are listed above. If you find a partner and you go for it. Kudos! If you're successful, I'll be one of the first to compliment you in your TR.

You mention the San Juans. The valley to Capitol is pretty narrow in places. In the San Juans, you have a mix of wide valleys and narrow corridors. If you think of it, many of the routes that are accessed in the tight, avy prone areas, also do not see a lot of climber attention. The avy risk at Capitol and in the SJ in places is awesome. Hence, caution takes precedence in both places. Especially this year. The Elks and SJ are loaded with snow, as you well know.

My .02.


iceisnice


Feb 19, 2005, 10:00 AM
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Re: Another winterish ascent....Northwest Butress of Capitol [In reply to]
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well, thanks for your info. it still sounds like a great challenge. if any of your freinds go into a lapse of insanity, tell them to get in touch with me, hehe


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