Just a few short days ago, Marc, Carl, and I were joyously recovering at Fatbelly Burgers in Carbondale. We were there two weeks prior, but with a more somber mood. Maybe it’s because Carl punched a rabbit in the face, but I think the biggest change was that we had just skied Colorado’s hardest 14er, and didn’t have to go back and take our chances there with snow and the weather (unless of course, we want to for some crazy reason).
I know the biggest question you’ve all got – how in the world did Carl end up punching a rabbit in the face? Well, I’ll tell you. We left Golden mid-afternoon on Friday afternoon and made our way to Glenwood Springs for dinner. Dinner #1 was burritos; Marc and I picked up a set of sandwiches for dinner #2 at camp.
Shortly after 7pm, we were on our way in to the Maroon Bells Wilderness once again.
A few miles later – just before dark – we had to make our first creek crossing of the trip. It was cold.
We were able to hike in shoes for about four miles until coming to a veritable wall of snow at 10,000′. By far the cleanest dry/snow transition I’ve ever come across. Two miles later we called it a night at 11,000′, set up camp, ate dinner, and crawled in to our bags. It was ten after eleven, with alarms set for one in the morning.
Just as we were drifting off, Carl and I hear Marc shouting that something just ran across his bivy bag. “What? What is it?!” was the response from Carl. No response. It was then that a large dark shape appeared at the edge of the vestibule of our tent. It was either a smaller animal, or – more likely, to us anyway – the foot of something much larger. Carl yelled, trying to scare it away. We were all wide awake at this point, hopes for a good night of sleep long gone. Marc yelled that it was rabbits, and next time the dark shape came around, it came in the vestibule and pushed up against the mesh of the tent. A few rounds of this and we pulled our packs in to the tent, as if it weren’t already cramped. It kept coming back, so Carl lined up his fist, waited for the right moment, and got it right in the nose. It stopped bothering him at that point (instead choosing to come around to my side of the tent). And that’s the story of how Carl punched a rabbit in the face.
It’s not really relevant to that story, but we all took quite a few photos of what we did the next morning, so I’ll share that too. I’m not sure how well everyone else slept, but I was lucky if I got more than 15 minutes.
We were up and moving for Capitol by about 1:30, and at the Daly saddle before 3am. As I was taking a break, Carl came up saying he found a ski buckle. I checked my boot, and found that I’d lost an important buckle, despite a recent tightening. I tested buckling everything down and decided that it wouldn’t affect my skiing enough to make the descent unsafe, and we continued on.
A couple hours later we found ourselves at K2, switched over to crampons and axes, and got to work.
We were lucky to have great snow conditions. It’s still super-fat back there, and it was perfectly cramponable.
I told Carl to hold on, because I had an idea for a photo he was going to like. I was right.
We saw occasional flashes of light from the direction of Snowmass, and were actually concerned about getting weathered off at 5:30 in the morning, which would’ve been ridiculous. Fortunately things cleared out, just making things beautiful for sunrise.
We had time for some summit shots, snacks, relaxation, and boot repair, as we waited quite a while for the snow to soften.
I was able to use a ski strap to sort-of replace my missing buckle. It wasn’t ideal but it’d have to do.
At one point, Marc almost became the first person to have a ghost-ridden snowboard descent of Capitol. It slid down out of sight, tumbled a few times, and then…silence. Marc angrily yelled about it for a moment before Carl and I saw that it had stopped on a ledge about 20′ down. One more bounce and that would’ve been about 2,000′, and Marc would not have been the second to snowboard from the summit of Capitol Peak. After that round of excitement, we made our final preparations and got heading down.
It was time to go.
The choke would likely have been a bit easier a couple weeks ago, as it was now rather thin and rocky. No problem though, and Marc put on quite a show getting through it.
We all let out a big sigh of relief once we got there.
We traversed over to the base of the One-in-a-Million Couloir and got ready to boot up 600′ to get out of Pierre Lakes Basin. The view of our line from here was amazing.
The water was still cold.