| A Memorial Labor Day on Dallas Pk.
On our first attempt at Dallas Pk. from the Mill Creek trailhead I made a silly error in judgment about the proper way to ascend the South slopes, get through the cliffs and access the East face. The first photo of this report will be of interest to first timers on this route.
As an interesting aside, after we had sidehilled across the entire South slope and still hadn't realized the error (well, half the team refused to admit it) we spotted someone descending what we now realize was a unique effort. There are some very deep and wet gullies at the far eastern side of the south face that he dropped through. Being to far away to talk we never got the whole story, but we tried heading up from where he had come and were turned back by loose rock and running water. Hats off to whoever that was and whatever he did.
Anyway, back to our story. Here is a photo that will help others avoid my mistake.
Basically, when you are in the basin below the south face just start going up, and up, and up. This is a grunt, no way around it. We spent about 90 minutes from the time we left the Highline trail before we found a trace of the use trail above the first cliff band.
Next photo is shortly after leaving the Highline Trail
There are various options for getting through the lower cliff. We angled toward easier ground to the left but on the way down found and followed the trail through a more direct line. Whatever you opt for, just get close to the towering upper cliff band and head right when it looks like you have bypassed all of the obstacles of the lower cliffs.
Once above the lower cliffs things ease up considerably. The next photo is a look back. No matter how you go, the access to the east face is obvious and the rest of the trip was relatively straightforward.
The next photo show the obvious objective. Hard to see in the photo, but very distinct is the trail up the dirty slope to access the East face.
The traverse of the east face is stunningly beautiful. The next objective was to find the first 4th class section. Before you get there you will intersect the trail that leads down to the pass used by people who climb from the Blue Lakes side. Shortly after that interstection you come to the 4th class scramble that gains access to the towers. This first technical obstacle is fairly short and very secure. A red sling was still there and in good shape when we were there.
A look back down the 4th class section. As usual, the perspective of the photo makes it appear more difficult than it felt.
The summit towers loom ahead.
Several options for climbing the towers exist. We found an interesting variation that I will try to describe. Sorry, not too many photos of the technical climbing for obvious reasons!
Gerry Roach says: "For the summit tower, climb north across the deep gully, stay below the deep gully's northern wall and go 20 feet north to a smaller gully. This gully is just south of Dallas' east ridge. If you reach the east ridge and can see the north face, you have gone too far."
Fair enough. We did go too far and instead of climbing the 2nd smaller gully we pressed past that and dropped into a notch with a stunning view of the north face and instead of the "airy, class 3 traverse" found a hairy 4th class scramble which topped out where slings were left to belay the gully. This also brought us very near to the "20 foot wide, sloping ramp that leadsdown to the west into the north face" as described in the Roach guide.
This variation worked well. The trickiest move was stepping out onto the North face to begin the ascent. However, once committed the climbing was solid and enjoyable. Here is a look back at that one section.
Once we found the wide dirt gully across the North face and descended it looking for the final pitch it was easy to follow the path of least resistance. We kept scrambling, looking for a decent belay ledge and before we knew it were on the summit! The rope didn't come out until setting up the rappel.
All of the climbing on this route was very solid with good holds everywhere. We scrambled back and forth climbing slightly different lines on our ascent. I suspect many folks may disagree, but for comparison I found the crux moves on both Coxcomb and Teakettle more difficult than any of the moves required on Dallas.
We had some rain showers around us earlier in the day. The Wilson group was socked in for over an hour and some of the rain came our way, enough that we almost bailed earlier. But on the summit, a bluebird day. No wind, no rain, perfect.
A few more images from the summit. Sneffles in the background, then the view east and then west.
The rappel anchor was in good shape and ready to use. This really is good fun. It was easy to set up and although it looked like the start would be tricky because the anchor is at your feet, it was very comfortable just walking into it. The next series of photos shows the unique nature of this descent.
Since the anchor was there for us, we also rapped off the lower section.
Here is another image of the descent where we followed the use trail as far as we could and then dropped through the lower cliffs where it seemed easy. Lots of options through here.
I want to point out in this last photo where you would come onto the East Ridge is you were to climb from the Blue Lakes approach. The red arrow in the photo shows the pass and gives an idea of how much more of the East Ridge would have to be negotiated if you opt to go this way.
All in all the day took 5 hours on the ascent and 3 on the descent plus 30 minutes lounging on the summit and stopping for lunch. A fantastic day and very fun climb. The 90 minutes grunting up the south slope was not too big a price to pay for this magnificent day!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):