14er Ski Descents – Capitol Peak – May 16, 2010
Route: Southeast Face
Team: Christy, Ted, Joey Giampaolo, Fred Marmsater
Capitol Peak was Christy’s final 14er to ski. Interesting, though not surprising, she and I both ended up putting off Capitol Peak until last.
This was our third time there this spring. She didn’t want it to be last, but after an attempt earlier in the spring where the snow was unconsolidated, and a second failed attempt the following week, and after managing to ski her remaining other 14ers during that time, it became her last peak.
Joey Giampaolo, Christy, and myself met Fred Marmsater at the Snowmass Creek Trailhead at midnight (we woke up at 10:45pm to get started). We followed the confusing route in the dark up to Moon Lake, again getting off route, but we eventually made it up to the notch between West Snowmass Creek and Pierre Lakes Basin. We skied down the CMC couloir (as we’ve always been told it’s called), and the traversed under the Knife Edge to the hidden couloir that leads up to Capitol’s Southeast Face. We booted up to the ridge, and then followed the ridge proper to the summit. It was actually pretty straightforward.
Christy knew all she had to do was ski down and she would be all done. We made our way back down to the hidden couloir, which was as much about traversing as it was about making turns, and we rappelled down and then skied to relative safety of Pierre Lakes Basin. And with that, Christy became the first woman to ski all 54 Colorado 14ers.
On May 16, 2010, with a ski descent of Capitol Peak’s East Face, I completed my goal of skiing the 54 Colorado 14,000-foot mountains (aka 14ers). While the root of the project can be traced back 10 years when, as a relative novice with a ready smile, I skied my first 14er, Quandary Peak, it eventually evolved into something bigger than I ever could’ve imagined back then. And so somewhere along the way, it occurred to me: I wanted to ski them all — something no woman had ever done, and something I learned more about during my husband (and best friend and best skiing/climbing partner) Ted’s own Ski the 14ers Project, which he completed in April 2008.
The journey surpassed my expectations. I experienced everything from epic, bluebird powder days to bone chilling winds and less than desirable snow conditions. I trekked around the state to trailheads and mountaintops, and sometimes re-trekked those same routes when the actual “mountain top” eluded me. I switched from tele boards to alpine touring gear and once shoveled snow where there was none on a summit in order to ski it — all the while reaffirming my love for the mountains a thousand times over.