The dangers of Capitol Peak
August 14, 2017
Every mountain is dangerous in its own way.
Last week's coverage of the Capitol Peak body recoveries all quoted Mountain Rescue Aspen personnel descriptions that the recoveries were "difficult," without specifying why. The northeast ridge (Knife Edge route) follows a ridge that is shattered by exfoliation and frost into flakes of every size. Three-point suspension was mandatory.
I had a boot-wide ledge that was 7 feet long collapse on me without warning. The Knife Edge itself provides the only solid rock on the route. Most accidents on Capitol happen everywhere else except on the 300 yards of the Knife Edge itself.
Rescue operations require bombproof anchors, in triplicate, if possible. The difficulty was in having to operate on a steep slope that was full of cracks and flakes for dozens of yards in every direction that might fall away at the slightest touch. Protecting the operation required an extra day and more personnel.
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