| The Jumbled Maze That Is Dallas Peak
Dallas Pk (13809')- CO Rank 100
9 miles RT, 5000' gain
via standard route
Participants: David Pneuman, Doug Hatfield, and Kevin Baker
Depending on who you ask, mighty Dallas is regarded as the 2nd hardest Colorado centennial, 2nd to only Jagged. Roach considers it the hardest in his high 13ers book. It is closely guarded by imposing cliff bands on all sides. On the standard route, one must deal with annoying ball-bearing scree over hard pan pretty much as soon as you leave the comforts of the Sneffels Highline Trail. The crux on the north side of the summit block is rated at 5.3, but it's only a few moves. I figured it was time to give Dallas a try. Dave Pneuman agreed to lead the climb, and Doug Hatfield joined me as well.
Doug and I parked at the trailhead at the end of Mill Creek Rd at 9400' after a long drive from C. Springs. I slept in my Santa Fe, while Doug setup his tent behind my car. There really isn't anywhere to setup a tent here as the terrain is too steep. Dave packed in that evening and the plan was to meet him below Dallas in the drainage mentioned by Roach.
After a short night of sleep, Doug and I set out under a starry sky at 3:32am. We had no problems following Deep Creek Trail to the Sneffels Highline trail at a ridge at 10600'. We could see the lights of Telluride and San Miguel below. We decided to avoid Stan's shortcut as I had read about people loosing time getting off-route. Even though this trail has many switchbacks and seems to be poorly routed, we made good time to the meadow where we thought Dave would be. We made radio contact with him and he said he was well up the trail still.
He said he was camped high on Dallas' south slopes, so we left the trail at 11600' and began looking for his headlamp. We climbed about 10 minutes or so, and I looked back to the east and saw a headlamp high in Mill Creek Basin below Mt Emma! Dave spotted us and realized he had passed the slopes of Dallas by at least a mile in the dark the night before! We told him we would wait for him at the base of the weakness in the cliff bands below the Palisades.
Dave lugged his overnite stuff to a bench above the trail, where we located him. About an hour and a half later, he met up with us below the cliff bands. Poor guy! The weather was looking good, so the setback wasn't a big deal. We found the proper gully to split the lower cliffs, then began the long traverse on the strong trail to a small ridge at 13K'.
The ball bearing scree began to take its toll and it would hit us hard all day. Once beyond this ridge, the footing improved somewhat and we had no problems following the route until we crested another ridge over to the east face. We followed the trail to the left of a prominent buttress, then slip-n-slided our way up to a steep class 4 rib littered with scree.
We found a crease in the rib that worked well. I got a little lazy with the routefinding and as a result we got a little off route. I climbed what I thought was the chockstone below the east side of the summit block, but it was in fact underneath the 5.7 s.e. corner route. Wrong chockstone! After a few minutes of searching, we found the 40 ft class 4 section with rappel slings at the top and clammered up. There were a couple awkward moves, but it wasn't bad.
My memory fails me as to what we did after this with the maze of terrain we navigated, but we finally found the notch leading to a sloping ledge on the north face that was initially narrow then broadened to a fairly wide platform for belaying. We were finally at the final summit pitch!
We geared up and Dave led the way, placing one cam about halfway up the crux. He belayed Doug and I from about halfway up the summit block in an alcove, where it gave way to easier climbing.
I made sure to test every hold here even though we were somewhat protected in a gully as the rock was very loose. I finally topped out at 11am. Wow, what a spectacular summit! I congratulated Dave and Doug as they soon arrived. There were 19 people in the register for this year, which is more than I thought there would be.
Clouds were building, so our stay was pretty brief. Dave inspected the rappel slings and deemed them satisfactory as there were plenty for backup. Doug rappeled first, then it was my turn.
I haven't rappelled much, so hanging my butt over the abyss still gets my heart pumping. After about 10 ft, it turned into a free rappel down to the top of the chockstone. We had a 60M rope and weren't sure if it would reach down to the bottom of the chockstone (it should), so we just rappelled the class 4 section we came up. One more rappel to climbers left of the loose rib we climbed and we were left with doing battle with the loose junk. We all wiped out a few times, as it was like walking on marbles at times.
Thankfully the weather held for us the rest of the day as we contoured above the lower cliff bands. I ended up leading us lower than the trail and too far to the west before we started descending, but we eventually backtrackted to the correct gully. We took a break at Dave's pack and bombed down the trail, arriving back at the TH at 4pm. Doug and I had to hussle out of there, as a backpack into Ice Lakes Basin awaited that evening. Thanks to Dave for leading this climb. Despite the difficulties, I thought Dallas was a spectacular climb.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):