Dallas Peak Fail P750

Jul 30, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
later climbed Jul 30, 2018


The day following our successful outing to Wilson Peak, Steve and Eric wanted a break, leaving me to find something to do on my own around Telluride. Dallas Peak had been on my mind for the past two years, a towering 13er that lies atop the high ridge forming the north side of Telluride's box canyon. At class 5.3, it is considered the most difficult of Colorado's highest 100 summits by their easiest routes. This seemed like a good one to explore on my own, so shortly after 6a I set out from the Hotel Telluride to find my way through town to the start of the Jud Wiebe Trail. One can start several miles closer by parking at the end of Mill Creek Rd, but I kinda liked the idea of hiking from the front door of where we stayed. I used a combination of the Jud Wiebe, Deep Creek and Sneffels Highline Trails to make my way up about 6.5mi to the 11,400-foot contour directly south of the summit. Initially traveling through dense forest, the route begins to open at the higher elevations to flowering alpine meadows and some fine views of the San Juans to the south, including the Wilson Group to the southwest. Upon leaving the trail, the route goes due north up steep, sometimes loose slopes to reach the crest on the east side of the summit. Though my ascent route worked, the descent route did a better job of following the ducks and the easier ways through the cliff band above that starts around 12,500ft. More ducks lead over the crest and up the east side of Dallas to a pair of massive rock towers that form the highest point. The right, or west tower is the highest and getting up it was far from trivial.

My biggest problem I found later was in not doing proper research on the route. I sort of assumed it would be obvious, with ducks to follow as I'd found in the Wilson Group. The ducks got me up the first class 4 section but then gave out at the base of the summit blocks where I struggled to find something I could climb. I examined three different scree gullies that ended in difficulties beyond my abilities. Where was this class 5.3 chimney I'd heard about? I climbed up some hard snow found high in one of the gullies under a large chockstone and noted a rope dangling down from behind it. There was no way for me to reach the rope that I could fathom, the rock slick with lichen and dripping water, the snow making mud in the scree that caked my boots. Even with climbing shoes I would have backed off. I examined another possibility to the left between the two towers but that was certainly far from 5.easy. I decided to give up. In analyzing my failure later (which the help of great online photos that made things more clear), I realized I somehow missed the second class 4 section that goes up through the rocks between two of the scree gullies, to the right of the large chockstone that I thought marked the class 5.3 chimney on the north side. Seems I never actually made it over to the north side. I think next time I will take a pair of climbing shoes and give it another go.

After descending back down to the Sneffels Highline Trail, I decided to continue east to make a complete circuit of this spectacular trail that I had only partially completed in previously. It was only about half a mile longer than the way I had come up though it did have an extra 800ft of gain as it goes over a saddle on a subsidiary ridge descending west from Mt. Emma. The weather was threatening thunderstorms for the last several hours but these never materialized to my good fortune. There is a very nice waterfall as one enters Mill Creek Basin where both this and the adjacent Pack Basin had thick carpets of larkspur and other flowers to color the meadow landscape. The trail eventually descends into forest for the last hour of the hike, some of it quite dense with an undergrowth of ferns and other shade plants, thriving on an abundance of water found in the Butcher Creek drainage. It would be 3p by the time I returned to town, having spent a rather full day at it. I guessed it probably would have taken another hour had I actually found the right route up the summit. Perhaps next time...


seano comments on 09/05/17:
I'm surprised this one got the best of you. I remember finding the correct chimney pretty quickly, and it was well-marked with the usual tat and a couple fixed pieces. Anyways, it was awhile ago, but I don't think you would need rock shoes.
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