Peak(s):  Dallas Pk  -  13,809 feet
Post Date:  08/22/2012
Date Climbed:   08/18/2012
Posted By:  Matt
Additional Members:   tommyboy360, benners, lordhelmut

 This Ain't No Picnic!   

Dallas Peak. For the last couple years, this one's stuck out in my mind as where the buck stops in my quest for the centennials. I am not a rock climber. I no longer live in the San Juans. I get tired after about 5000' of gain. Teakettle went by without too much trouble, but this one looked to double or triple the challenges and--hopefully--the exuberance on its summit. When Brian (lordhelmut) mentioned back in May that he and Ben (Benners) were planning on this peak, I was all ears. I don't know squat about placing protection and wouldn't be going after this one without the kind of partners you can trust for everything from picking up a sixer of IPA on the way to the TH to being totally solid, competent, and dependable on the mountain if things go wrong. With these two along, I figured I had a shot. Once we recruited Tom (tommyboy360), I knew good times were ahead, no matter what the outcome.
In 2007, I hiked up Uncompahgre Peak for the first time, and had a stellar day. One of the highlights? I met Ben (Benners) and his buddy Stewart on the summit. Five years later, and we're dumbfounded we'd never hiked a single peak together. We sure picked a winner for our first time out. Here goes...

In researching the peak, we came across a bunch of fine reports from the Mill Creek TH, particularly the ones from the Los Alamos folks...
Scott and Amy's Party of Three (how's parenthood, you guys?)
Strudolyubov's recent photo journal ..and some others that document well the trip from Telluride.

We also read with interest Furthermore's report from the Blue Lakes side. It's the only one. There must be a reason for that, right? Since we all had to work on Friday, the idea of sleeping 45 more minutes before this peak started to grow on us. Longs with two hours' sleep is one thing. This looked to be on another level. I petitioned the author to get his take on whether we ought to try Dallas from Blue Lakes. The response?

"If I were to go again, I would do the Mills approach despite the extra driving."

I dug my heels in and pushed for Mill Creek, reviewing and printing out TRs from that TH. However, men make plans and God laughs. Tom and I left Denver a couple hours late, and Brian and Ben hit I-70 only to find that the Eisenhower Tunnel was closed. Shite. As it got later, the group consensus moved toward Blue Lakes, and we chose sleep and scree over smooth(er) sailing. In hindsight, while this proved an amazing day, the lesson is clear:

The alarm went off at 3:45, and I was on the trail at 4:30. Our forecast wasn't stellar (30%), but we compromised with this start time, figuring the extra hour of sleep would make up for any chance of storms. We stormed up the Blue Lakes trail in darkness, arriving just with the first rays of sunlight. We took a food/water break and considered our options while enjoying generous alpenglow that persisted for a few hundred feet of ascent.
We headed up the grass at left, then toward the middle of the photo and to the right.
The route ahead

Morning light warms the peaks

"S4" and Blue Lake from a little bit up

We kept telling ourselves that the rock wasn't as loose, footing nearly so bad, our dispositions hardly as nasty as we'd expected from down below. Somehow, on "big" peaks, I manage to put on blinders, to forget about how hard it's supposed to be, and just put one foot in front of the other until the job's done. It worked on Capitol. It worked on Teakettle's miserable dinner plate approach. Somehow, we make this happen again. Making any and all effort to divert our attention from the suckiness of this slope, topics of conversation flowed from the ridiculous name (and stellar academic achievements) of New York Jet D'Brickashaw Ferguson to Al Bundy's obsession with the Ferguson toilet, to the facial expression of one who has just finished the centennials upon Dallas Peak (we should be so lucky), to carrying a keg up the Coxcomb, then tying Missy to it and throwing it off the summit, just to see how much of Bill's bandwidth could be wasted with pissing matches, LNT preaching, felony crusades, and faux sentimentality (no, we'd never do that--wasting beer is a crime, and I love dogs). None of that is what the mountains are about for me, but this kind of scree nightmare can bring out the darkest part of the imagination in the nicest people...
Up we go!

Tom and Brian on the best rock until we reach the saddle

As we approached the top, things got progressively less pleasant and Furthermore's words rang loudly in my head as the multitalented Paula Abdul returned to the record player in my head. Damn you, woman!

Fortunately, the 12945' saddle came quickly enough, and we got our first view of Dallas' remarkable summit towers.

The approach looks trivial from here right? Ha! This peak gives you nothing. Nothing.
As we motored over toward the towers, things began to look more interesting, and we saw the first sign that others had been here before--a Karen!
Lacking much beta, but knowing others had success on this route, we pressed on, figuring we'd find a way. Ben contemplates what lies ahead:
Photo by Brian

We cruised around the block seen at left and found some interesting terrain.
Benners photo

We were faced with an uncertain traverse across steep scree gullies, class 3-4 rock ribs strewn with loose garbage, and undulating gullies. Down. Up. Across. Up some more.
At this point, the sheer size of this mountain and magnitude of our endeavor became apparent.
Here are some shots of the journey.
Tommyboy photo

Before we lost the view, I took a look over at Red Mountain.

Photo by Tom

Photo by Tom

Approaching a 4th class section

Helmut photo

After topping out on the 4th class section, we found a rappel station and gave a few seconds' thought to whether we'd use it on the way down. We continued to the bottom of the 4th class entry to the summit tower's base. Here, we stopped to don harnesses and drop non-essential gear. A tandem of climbers spoke very little to us, but started up while we munched on a few pre-summit snacks. With blue skies shining on us, we gave them a few minutes to get ahead. I heard Willie Nelson canceled an appearance in the Front Range recently d/t illness. I said a prayer for him as we waited and his classic sound chased Paula from the space between my ears. The other climbers had passed on, and our moment was approaching. We made our move.
Ben puts his ass into it

Here's a shot of this section without Ben's arse splayed across the center.
Once through this, we found one of the other climbers belaying his guide. We waited. Suddenly, my hands were cold.
Was I nervous, or was it the wind blowing with clouds covering the sun? I wasn't sure, but I sure as hell wished these two would hurry up. The last of the two climbers was very courteous, warning us each time he approached sections of loose rock so we could take cover. Thanks. Here's a shot of the belayer and the first section of the summit pitch.
Once he let us know he was clear, Tom took off and soloed to the summit. We put Ben on belay and he shot up the pitch in no time.
Ben sets anchor (Tommyboy photo)

Again, I'm no rock climber, and I've stayed home all summer while Brian and Tom head to Clear Creek and North Table to climb. Somehow, I've managed to pull off all kinds of peaks using only sheer determination and faith in myself. Sink or swim. I tied in, sacked up, and climbed up. The first move (5.3) is really the only "rock climbing" move on the route, from my perspective. I started on the left to avoid stepping over the rock, put my foot onto a corner, and pulled myself up. Whew! Brian followed me and cleaned up the pro Ben had placed, which, thankfully, no one needed. The remaining sections are 4th class/5.0-5.2 and go quickly, as the exposure lessens once past the first move.
Look at those calves! Eat your heart out, Bean.

Exposure (Helmut photo)

Brian followed right behind me and suddenly we were all on top! This one felt good--really good. Forget the spellbinding views of Sneffels, Teakettle, and Blue Lake. Who cares how many centennials I have left? Not me. No summit ever feels pedestrian--reaching the highest point of any peak--from Two Buttes to Mt. Rainier--fills me with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that doesn't come from many other things. But... Standing atop Dallas Peak was something I wasn't sure I'd ever find myself doing. Damn, it felt good!!! Brian was on top within seconds, and we let the moment sink in. It wasn't long until I was hungry.
Jimmy John's and Sneffels. Top that!

A big CMC group, complete with walkie-talkies and a trip leader, had preceded us and was ensconced in the long process of getting everyone rapped down. We knew we'd have plenty of time, so we settled in, perused the register, and enjoyed sublime views. BTW, congrats to 14ers members Uwe and Zeekzilch, as well as 14erworld holdouts John and Renata Collard, who'd rapped down before we topped out. The register held plenty of familiar names (people I've actually met, like Carpe DM), too. Here are some shots of our time at the top of Dallas.
Sneffels, Teakettle, Potosi

Summit Gapers (Benners photo)

Crackheads (Tom photo)

After about 30 minutes of enjoying ourselves, we decided that Deviant Dales at the car sounded pretty damn good, and Ben set up the rappel. He went first, followed by Tom, me, then Helmut. It's a sizable drop, one that gets interesting as you drop through a hole.
(Photo by Tom)

Once we were all through, we returned to the spot where we'd dropped our extra gear, chatted with two wildly attractive French women now living in Telluride (one of whom looked me in the eye and told me flatly, "I need a boyfriend who can climb this"), and headed down. I suddenly wished I'd never moved to Denver...
We tried to retrace our route, but stayed too high, leading to some difficulty and some resounding Helmutisms, the likes of which I've never heard. With dark clouds over the Wilson group and distant thunder urging us on, we beat feet back to the saddle that drops almost 2000' to Blue Lake.
Tom Photo

Tom Photo

At the saddle, we realized the weather had shown us mercy, but this slope wasn't about to.
Putting it mildly, this ain't no picnic! It was more like what mountain climbers do in Hell. Rocks too big, dirt too hard to ski. Rockfall that could easily turn deadly. For the first 200 feet of this, every step unleashed a torrent of tumbling talus. We spread out. Ben moves like the wind on this stuff and beat the rest of us old timers down with enough time for a nap at the lake. I could hear Furthermore laughing at us. I cursed gravity, scree, pain, and anything else that crossed my mind, knowing it was all just to pass the time until I arrived at the shore of Blue Lake. Eventually, we got there and chilled out. I soaked my feet in the cool water and was grateful to be alive. What a gorgeous place to relax!
Helmut photo

The hike out went quickly, but 3.3 miles still affords time to reflect. I couldn't have been happier. While our route choice definitely added suffering and extra effort to the day, I was left with the kind of contented satisfaction and cheeriness that comes around once or twice a year in the mountains, no matter how many times I get out. While I never really doubted I'd make Dallas Peak, the fact that we had really didn't sink in until somewhere on trail out. Thoughts of upcoming pizza and IPA at Colorado Boy Brewery in Ridgway took over, and before I knew it, I was chowing down and comparing photos and impressions with Tom as we filled our growler and headed to meet Ben and Brian at the Courthouse Mountain Trailhead over in the Cimarrons.

This was an amazing day with the best crew I could imagine. Thanks, you all. I'm looking forward very much to the Weiminuche in a couple weeks.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

That's all fine and good, Matt, but...     08/22/2012 13:56
Where are the pics of the hot French chics? Congrats!


Wonderful     08/22/2012 14:11
But the only thing I can think of after reading this is how the hell can you let the French woman just walk away?! I almost had to dislike this report.


FOR SHAME     08/22/2012 14:29
No picture of the wildly attractive French women? What kind of TR is this? In all seriousness, congrats to all. Dallas Peak is still one of my favorites and this route looks like ”fun” as well!


Awesome!     08/22/2012 15:40
Great report Matt! Congrats to you and the crew. Dallas looks like a real beast. Way to get after it!


Keg on Coxcomb?     08/22/2012 15:46
You have my attention.

Nice work Matt and good luck in the Weminuche!


Nice job guys!     08/22/2012 16:04
Great TR Matt.


Congrats on frenchies     08/22/2012 16:35
And on Dallas. Good lookin' pics.

”Always listen to Furthermore” seems to be a popular slogan.

I Man

Very cool!!     08/22/2012 16:42
I agree with Ryan, we never even thought of taking their Blue Lakes approach.

Bummed we didn't get to try it when we were down there this month, possibly going back in September.

Congrats to you all on this fantastic peak


So many wonderful things ...     08/22/2012 16:55
About this trip report. But, the best one of all is that you and your great group of cohorts stood on TOP OF DALLAS PEAK! Awesomeness in the biggest sense of the word. Always listen to Furthermore (yeah, and remember that he has the stamina of a 16 year old pubescent boy when you read his trip reports ); the eloquent discussion of potential pissing matches on 8) (and don't forget ”blaming it all on Bill” 8) ); and, appreciating a summit you never thought you'd be on wow, I've felt like that many times ... it does feel so good.

I really love the ass shots, the calf shots and the summit shots!

Good to hear that you took advantage of the pizzalicious, beerination yumminess that is the Colorado Boy. 8) This is one great report, Matt. I'm proud of y'all, but especially my hugginator. Happy trails!


Good stuff!     08/22/2012 17:26
I was up there 3 weeks ago and am still jealous of your climb. Such a fun peak, I'll be going back! I was trying to sell CarpeDM on Furthermore's route...I'm thankful he would have none of it.

Great pics and write-up!


Paul Abdul     08/22/2012 17:32
Any TR that can incorporate her and still be as entertaining as this is a winner in my book!

Way to get after it fellas. Looks like a great trip. Mad props to Tommy for leading that pitch as well. I hope we can get back out on the crags again together soon. Hope the camera was solid as well.

PS: I had no idea what an awful person I was until listening to how hard I was laughing at the prospect of chucking Missy off the top. Lol, if only....

Thanks for the good report Matt!


Look at the Calves on that one...     08/22/2012 18:27
He must work out.

JJ's, Sneffels, D'Brickashaw Fergueson and rappels through caves. What else needs to be said?

Floyd - we can discuss options for keg transport to Coxcomb's summit soon.


Nice TR Matt!     08/22/2012 18:36
Dallas is one of those peaks you're glad you did but glad you'll probably never do again, at least that's my take on it. For this reason I'm glad we made it a memorable one! Kudos to my entire group for hitting it in good form.


You silly crackheads...     08/22/2012 18:58
Dallas looks like a crazy climb--congrats to all of you guys for getting it! What's next--Lizard Head?


What really happened on Dallas...     08/22/2012 19:02
Matt hits on 2 French Telluride girls while Brian coils the rope. New nerd raging thread to be posted soon.

We find evidence that Ralph Lauren secretly feasts on microwaveable meals while visiting his ranch in the Sneffels Wilderness.

Upon review of the summit group photo, Matt determines that 2 serious + 2 goofy poses does not work. We regroup for a second ”fun” shot. The best part is the transformation of Benners in the second photo!

Rappelling into that gaping Dallas hole was a big thrill. It (and perhaps the blue lakes too) had mind erasing powers that would take away the pain of 2000 ft of loose scree and talus.

Thank you, Matt, for this excellent write up. This trip was the highlight of my summer explorations. I'm surprised you left out the celebration feast at Amicas in Salida?


Metacomment     08/23/2012 01:18
DM, Kansas, Polok: Logistics, my friends, logistics. I regret this more than you all.
Mountainjam, Caroline, Matt: Thanks!
Scot: We're already gonna need two 60m ropes to get down. Carrying a keg up there will be nothing short of heroic.
Terri: I'm glad we could entertain your seedy side for once. You are right, though. Everything is Bill's fault...
R_W, Monster5: I don't regret this route, but would not choose it over Mill Creek. The French chicks (especially the brunette) blew my pics away. Too bad that's all...
Zambo: It warms my heart to know you'll be bringing your awful self to the Weiminuche in a couple weeks.
Chris: I know you don't care about 13ers, you hipster, but this one's worth your time.
Anna: You are a trig one, aren't you? I never fail to have a great day out, even Two Buttes!
Brian, Ben, Tom: Thanks for making this happen. Best day of the year thus far! I think Ben will have Amica's covered when he posts.


I Love Crack     08/23/2012 01:48
You guys are coocoo.

Matt, you made up the french woman thing. Must be the crack.


How's parenthood, you say?     08/23/2012 02:42
Let's see. I had to go back and re-read your TR to find the section about the French ladies, and it's been almost 2 years to the day that I last stood on top of a 14er. Otherwise, we can't wait for our two little girls (2 yr 8 mo. & 1 yr. 1 mo.) to become our rope guns!

I'm pretty much a lurker these days, but this TR induced a response! Great to see you and Helmut & gang going strong. Loved the semi-stream-of-consciousness sections of your TR too. Come on down to Taos if the snow's good next season! Cheers!


kudos     08/23/2012 03:12
Also on my ”can I really do it?” list. Glad the weather held for you! I've read that Dallas _can_ be done w/o ropes (although it would obviously add time to the descent). What's your take?


Comments     08/23/2012 16:06
Darin, I can still see her smiling face and the need in her eyes that I wish I'd had time to satisfy... This is perhaps the biggest reason to have listened to Furthermore. Very real.
Scott, your kids will have more alpine experience than most adults, if they don't already. In utero 14ers count, too. Hope to see you all this winter. If it snows, we will go.
Patrick, if you can downclimb exposed 5.3, or wear special moccasins, Dallas goes without rappel. No one does this, though. Like there being only one report of our route, there's probably a reason for that.


Nice Job...     08/23/2012 17:20
gentlemen (and Matt). Great report!


I have felt your pain and accomplishment     08/23/2012 17:37
Great TR and congrats on successfully climbing Dallas.

I too misguidedly chose the Blue Lakes approach on 26 July 2012.

Your TR brings back pain and anguish of the climb up and the scree hop down the steep scree slope. I did Dallas solo and unprotected as I did not feel it necessary to protect by myself. Dallas is quite an accomplishment that I will always remember!!! Thanks for quantifying the experience with your trip report. I had the same sentiments and experience.



Right on!     08/23/2012 19:25
Candidate for best TR of the summer!

Count me in for the keg on Coxcomb. Have you considered splitting the load into 2 ponies rather than one 1/2 barrel?


Great computer entertainment...     08/23/2012 22:15
”conversation flowed from the ridiculous name... New York Jet D'Brickashaw carrying a keg up the Coxcomb, then tying Missy to it and throwing it off the summit, just to see how much of Bill's bandwidth could be wasted with pissing matches, LNT preaching, felony crusades, and faux sentimentality.”

Loved the report Matt and congrats to this crazy team! That mountain's a memory huh?

Doing it without a rope? Depends on conditions. When Gladbach & I climbed it in June, rope was mandatory on the east face as the standard route was snowed in.


Very funny!!     08/24/2012 00:20
An entertaining read for sure Matt!! I'm almost disappointed I didn't get to go with you guys.....almost.

Say...those cams look familiar!!


Sweet!     08/25/2012 19:36
Glad you guys got it done. Excellent report, just got around to reading it.

and... I did warn you.


Dang, I Missed Meeting You Guys By This Much     08/27/2012 22:17
Especially lordhelmut.
Yeah, walkie talkies and cmc trip leader: me. Don't hold that against the group. They never listened to me anyway. What a day, right? We counted 28 folks on the registrar when we got there and on that perfect day, we counted 13 other climbers. Whoa! We tried it the weekend of June 8th and bailed after talking to Steve and Britt and hearing about their 5 hour ordeal to make the summit. I called that trip our exploratory.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU. Love your approach. Liked ours, too. We thought Dallas was a trip and loved every friggin' minute of it. Who wants to go back?

PS The line a single mountaineering man wants to hear...lucky you. The 2 women were Czech. Both doctors and one buying a practice in Montrose, I think. Ya missed it!


Awesome     08/26/2013 17:44
Great report, lots of laughs... you have a talent for recounting stories. Nicely done.

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