FKT: Andrew Hamilton - Centennial Elks Traverse (CO) - 2021-07-03

Route variation
Standard point-to-point
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 2h 8m 0s

During my climb of all of the Centennial peaks in Colorado, I decided it would be fun to complete the Centennial Elks traverse.  This route through the Elks is just stunning as you complete several spectacular traverses all with distinct personalities.  The style was supported, however that was in the context of the 3000 foot rule.  So I could not get help within 3000 feet of any of the summits.  I basically received help at the beginning and end to get my pack carried to and from the 3000 foot rule spot, and then I received support near Crater lake between Pyramid and North Maroon where Andrea set up a tent so I could sleep for a few hours and she made me some food and resupplied me for the second day.

I started on July 1, 2021 at 4:45am heading up Cathedral.  I stopped the clock at the Capitol trailhead at 6:53am on Jul 3, 2021.  So the total time was 50 Hours and 8 minutes. For the Bells I chose to climb North Maroon, then do the traverse to South Maroon and back instead of using the standard route up South Maroon as that route can seem so tedious.

I saw a herd of Elk heading up Thunder Pyramid and then a really large one between North Maroon and Hagerman.  I guess that is why the mountains are called the "Elks".  As I was nearing trailrider pass there was a heavy downpour that lasted for about 45 minutes and I took cover on the side of a large rock that provided a little cover from the rain.

The most difficult part ended up being the last 500 feet to the summit of Capitol as it had turned dark and I had a very difficult time finding cairns on the standard route.  I guess I should have just stayed on the ridge all the way to the summit like I have done in winter, but in the dark that seemed very technical and scary so I thought I could just take the standard route.  I was surprised at how difficult the route was to follow.

By the time I reached my brother-in-law who was waiting to carry out my pack following the 3000 foot rule, I was pretty tired so the hike out of Capitol to the trailhead seemed like a never ending death march.