Peak(s):  Dallas Pk - 13,809 feet
Date Posted:  08/15/2016
Modified:  06/27/2017
Date Climbed:   08/13/2016
Author:  Jon Frohlich
Additional Members:   Jonathan Deffenbaugh, TomPierce, Brad Snider
 Well that was fun, and also kind of miserable   

(trip report title paraphrased from one of Tom's comments during the hike)

~13 miles, ~4600 feet (stats for this hike seem to be all over the place, this is my best guess based on GPS data)
Start: 4:40am
Summit: 12:00pm
End: 5:20pm
Partners: Brad, Tom, and Jonathan

Flickr album:
Dallas Peak Album
(I only have my photos so far, I'll add Jonathan's soon)

Some day I should compile a list of things I never thought I'd actually end up doing. I don't know where Dallas would fall on that list exactly but I'm sure it would be there. Dallas is one of those peaks that over the years nearly achieved mythic status in my head. Sure, I'd seen trip reports on it. I'd seen the mountain from various angles. Actually climbing it? That was another thing entirely. I'm not a technical climber. I will never claim to be. I've done some multi-pitch climbs and I've taken classes. I've done quite a bit of climbing in the gym. Is climbing with a rope my thing? Absolutely not. I don't even own a rope. I think spending all day on a crag makes no sense. The view doesn't change and you spend hours in a very small area. Alpine technical climbing? That's a lot of extra gear to carry. Then again I did decide to try and climb the highest 100. So I guess I better figure out how to be fine with using a rope or figure out some other way. Granted a wingsuit or a hang glider is probably not very safe either. A helicopter is crazy expensive and probably unethical. I guess maybe I should just take the rope option and shut up.

Brad made a post on the forum asking if anyone was interested in Dallas and Teakettle back in June and almost immediately Tom and I replied. If you look at the thread I think we both answered him within 90 minutes. I think right after I answered him I also had a thought asking myself what I had just done. Did I just commit to this? Uh-oh. Tom offered to lead and bring all the necessary those ropes I guess we need. After a huge amount of PMs and various logistical conversations we came up with a plan. A plan that actually managed not to change much from that initial post looking for partners. Weird, usually things don't work out quite that well. Last minute Jonathan got added to the group as well and we were set with a group of 4. None of us had ever climbed together before but we decided that unless our posted climbing resumes were completely fabricated that we should have a great group. It actually turned out we had a sarcastic and snarky group as well.

We all made our various plans to reach the trailhead. Brad flew in via some sort of 'airplane' from a place called Pennsylvania. Turns out my partner is from there too. I guess Pennsylvania is a big place so they don't know each other. Weird. Brad rented a car (four wheels, internal combustion engine, carries various gear) and started his drive down to Telluride around mid-day on Friday. Tom was already on his way and decided to add to the fun weekend by trying out his luck on Black Bear Pass. He made it in one piece and got to the trailhead first. In a last minute switch I decided to save on gas and drove our Mazda 3 down instead of my usual 4Runner. This seemed like a fine decision until Brad arrived at the base of the Mill Creek road and informed me that there was no way the car was getting up there. Easy solution I suppose. Swap all the gear into his rental, leave my car down below, and ride up with him. We got up to the trailhead, met Tom, and I set up my tent. We knew Jonathan was going to arrive later so after deciding on a start time and letting him know we all went to bed. Jonathan ended up arriving about 11pm after helping out a drunk driver who had managed to roll his car a few times near Cortez. I guess the guy wasn't seriously injured but it certainly sounded pretty ugly.

At about 4am the next morning we all woke up and got ready to go. As we were finishing preparations we saw a group of 5 start up the trail. Then we saw another group of two start heading up. Now we realized we had 7 people ahead of us. Plus our group made 11. This was going to be interesting. At 4:40am we got going and started up the trail behind the other groups. As usual in the dark things kind of blur together. We reached the turnoff to the Sneffels Highline trail and headed up the switchbacks. Light began to dawn and after a few miles we reached a stream where the rest of the guys got more water. We could finally see Dallas rising above us. From here it looked incredibly intimidating and frankly impossible. It seemed ridiculous that there was a viable route on that face. Finally after a few hours we reached the base of the grassy slopes leading up. Tom had said the words "slog" and "miserable" about this portion a few times on the way up. It didn't look that bad and it really wasn't. It certainly wasn't all solid either. There was a lot of loose rock and scree hiding in the grass.

Route finding was pretty straightforward. Aim for the giant mass of Dallas above you and go up. We watched the groups ahead of us start to negotiate the Class 3 ledges to reach the ramp.

Trail headed up

Wilson group early in the morning

First view of Dallas

Looking towards Emma and the rest of the highline trail

View from the trail

A bit higher up the slope

Wilson Group and Lizard Head

Eventually we reached the base of the Class 3 section ourselves and decided to put on our helmets and get serious. You have to find the all important bagel that marks the route. I'm serious. This bagel is the most important marker on the route. If it's not there you might as well turn back. By keeping to the right of the snow and the bagel we didn't have any real trouble reaching the base of the ramp. A few Class 3 moves here and there but route finding wasn't very difficult. As we got to the ramp a climber's trail became obvious and we started to make our way across. Nothing up to this point was all that exposed but there was a lot of loose dirt. Keep slogging I guess. As we neared the end of the ramp the dirt got steeper and looser but we eventually we made it to the corner and took a nice break and checked out the view of the upper slopes.

Route bagel

Break time below the Class 3 section

Near the top of the Class 3 section looking at the trail


Taking a rest (photo by Brad)

Close to the end of the ramp at 13,000

Headed up above 13,000'

Just below the Class 4 section

Next on the agenda was a loose climber's trail heading up to the base of the Class 4 section. We all took a few different routes to the base of the Class 4 but it all worked out fine. We all decided that a rope wasn't needed. There were lots of holds and after about 20 feet the climbing got easier. At this point we were starting to wonder how the other groups ahead were doing and whether we were going to have to wait to climb the summit pitch. We could see the summit tower and hadn't seen anyone rapping down yet so they were either still going up or on the summit. We made the short hike up to the base of the summit tower and decided to get harnesses and ropes out. All of us made the decision to leave our packs down below the rappel. At the time it seemed logical enough and it worked out but it was a long while before we got back to our packs and food and water might have been nice. Everyone survived though. We all checked each other and verified we'd put our harnesses on correctly. Tom let us know that if we hadn't we'd just die. No big deal. Did I mention this was a sarcastic crew? I sent my emergency contact a message on my Delorme saying we were at the base of the technical pitch and then it was time to get serious.

Summit tower

I led the way up the short climb to get to the base of the technical pitch. We decided not to rope up for it. I struggled a bit with one of the moves and Brad decided to come up and give it a go. It was awkward but he made it and I followed behind and tried to do what he did. It was still rather awkward and while I didn't make it look graceful I did make it up finally. Jonathan and Tom followed behind shortly after. We then watched the other group start rapping down from the summit. We had a quick debate about where exactly the summit pitch was and we finally realized it was on the other side of a very nice Broadway width ledge with a 1000 feet drop to your right. That made me feel a bit twitchy but we all made it safely past and took our positions for the rope climb.

Brad hanging out at the top of the Class 4 (5.0 we thought) gully

Ledge to the base of the technical pitch. 1000 foot drop to the right.

Other party rapping down

Other group on the summit waiting to come down


Me navigating the ledge (photo by Brad)

Tom gave us all a briefing to make sure we knew what he was going to do. Told us we'd probably die but might be ok. I considered throwing something at him but I'd left my pack behind and our fearless leader was unfortunately still needed. Jonathan put him on belay and Tom started up the pitch. He put in two pieces of pro on the way up and then once he got settled on the summit he belayed Jonathan up. Brad and I each tied into one end of the 60m rope and waited a few minutes for our turn. I started up first and got up about halfway up before Tom told me to stop. There were some rope issues on the summit so I took a nice break and enjoyed the view while I waited. I got a bit snarky while waiting which apparently was not appreciated by those on the summit. Standing at 13,700' tied into a rope while I literally hang out on a small ledge apparently makes me quippy. Eventually I was told to start climbing again and I worked my way up the pitch while Brad followed behind. There were 2 or 3 moves that required some technique but even my general lack of grace when it comes to rock climbing got me up to the top. Brad followed a few minutes later at almost exactly noon.

Rope work

Base of the pitch

The weather was gorgeous and hadn't threatened all day so we weren't in a huge hurry. We took pictures, signed the register, congratulated each other, and generally enjoyed our accomplishment. The view was absolutely spectacular. Sneffels is amazing from this vantage point. We still had to rap down though. We weren't out of possible ways to fall off the mountain quite yet. We cleaned up the ropes and reorganized. Tom did things with the rappel anchor while I watched. He decided it was satisfactory and after tossing the ropes over the side decided to go first and see if he was right. As he told me on the summit it's not like he'd ever climbed before so we all waited to see what would happen. He did manage to make it to the bottom in one piece and then it was Jonathan's turn. He had a bit of trouble getting tied in and I could see on his face that the position was a little....well, scary. From my angle I couldn't tell exactly why but once he rapped off and I got ready to tie in I understood.

Summit Pano North

Summit Pano East and South


Brad on top

Tom hard at work making us safe

See? You cut the rope like this

I anchored myself to the slings and shifted down towards the rope so I could tie in. Then I understood the difficulty a bit better. The rope was about 3 feet to my right just a bit too far to reach. I had to carefully inch myself onto a small ledge, tie in, check I hadn't messed anything up (Brad got close enough to verify), unclip my backup anchor, and commit. At least if I'd messed up at this point it wasn't going to take long to find out. I sat down and rappelled a couple feet down. So far so good. I made my way down the rest. As I got close to Tom he tried to tell me to push off the rock to land beyond the snow a bit farther down. Instead I flailed a bit and with no grace at all landed in the snow right beside him. Well that was fun. And yes, slightly miserable. I got up, untied, took a few pictures of Brad coming down, and walked back over to my pack to send my emergency contact a message that I was still alive. I also tried to come down from the adrenaline rush and considered other, safer hobbies. Like crochet. Or stamp collecting. I also thanked Tom for his expertise. This was his third attempt on the mountain and he finally made the summit so this was awesome for him.


Brad coming down

One more pano

After we were all back on solid ground we packed ourselves up and left our harnesses on in case we decided to rap the Class 4 section. It didn't take long to reach that anchor and we all decided we had the rap and might as well use it. So we rapped down a second time. This one was much easier but there was a lot of loose rock around so it was easy to accidentally kick something down. Thankfully there was a good place to wait out of the fall line. Jonathan came down last and pulled the rope. Our fun with ropes was over for the day. I can't say I was sad about that. Did anything on Dallas change my mind about wanting to be more of a technical climber? Nope, not in the slightest. An occasional pitch on a peak? Fine, but that's it. I think it's fine to know where you draw the line. My line is pretty close to Dallas.

Class 4 rappel

Headed down

Infinity ledge

Back on the grass

The climb down was fairly uneventful. We made our way across the ramp and down the Class 3 section. Tom's back started hurting so he was slowing down. We got back on the grass and Brad and I made our way towards the trail. I fell on my ass a few times and tried to glissade some scree by accident. Turns out that hurts. Eventually we reached the bliss of the trail. Jonathan and Tom were a little behind but not far so Brad and I walked a short distance to find a nice place to sit down and take a break. Eventually my knees started hurting so I decided to slowly wander down the trail and keep moving. It was still 3 miles (or more) out to the car and it was mid-afternoon. I decided that I didn't like the switchbacks on the highline trail. Talked to my partner a few times (cell reception is great on this peak!) and slowly wandered back and forth and more or less down. I hit the last trail junction and waited a few minutes. I figured Brad wasn't far behind but didn't see him so I moved on. Eventually he caught up near the car and we both reached it about 5:20pm. Jonathan followed a few minutes later and Tom not that long behind him.

We climbed that?

Tom's back was really bothering him so he decided to head towards a hotel closer to home and not climb the next day. The other three of us had dinner at Smuggler's in Telluride. We were all starving but for some reason had trouble eating. I think our bodies might have been past the point of thinking food was a good idea. Eventually we drove to Ouray and found a place to car camp on the Yankee Boy Basin road. I didn't sleep well and was hurting pretty bad in the morning so I drove home while Brad and Jonathan did Teakettle. I was bummed not to try Teakettle it but Dallas was amazing (and a bit miserable) and I was glad to even just do the one summit.

I'm proud of our group. We worked well together, had a great climb, beautiful weather, and stayed safe. I can't ask for much more than that. An amazing day. I would climb with these guys again anytime. Even our sarcastic leader.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4

Comments or Questions
Really surprised you didn't die....
08/15/2016 21:56
Well, maybe next time! Agree with your closing comments, Jon, a great team on a great day. But still a miserable slog. Jagged next year? Thanks for posting this.

What Tom said...
08/16/2016 10:33
Stellar report... Makes me want to give Dallas a try. No... Wait.... Never mind...

Brad Snider
08/16/2016 13:05
Last few days were a whirlwind, I'm still catching my breath. Can't believe you got this posted already. Really captured the climb well and as usual Jon, I share a lot of the same sentiments. Awesome pics too, now I can take some time to really enjoy the summit view. Hard to believe it all came together so well. Great meeting and climbing with you guys. Bummed you couldn't make Teakettle but I'm sure you will enjoy that one on fresh legs.

Climb on!

Congrats Jon!
08/16/2016 15:35
Nice report Jon, thanks for sharing! Congrats on the hard earned Dallas Summit! Imagine Gladbach climbing it by himself in winter. After some time on that belay ledge, that summit feels pretty sweet, doesn't it?

Brian Thomas
08/16/2016 16:52
The pic of Sneffels is really cool. Congrats on busting out more of these centennials!

Congrats to all
08/16/2016 17:08
Sounds like a fun day on a great peak and you couldn't have had a better rope leader. Tom really knows his stuff! Sorry about aches and pains, but do know that Teakettle is quite a bit easier/shorter than Dallas. You'll get it. If you're willing to wait till spring, I'll take you up it

Jon Frohlich
08/16/2016 17:31
Tom - Jagged next year absolutely.

Brad - With fresh legs and a 4Runner to drive all the way up I'm sure Teakettle will be fine!

Natalie - I might come down in late Sept / early October depending on how the snow looks and go for it late. Just have to see if I can make it happen and if the weather cooperates. A spring snow climb could be tempting too....

Once you've climbed Dallas...
08/18/2016 11:21
Teakettle will seem easy by comparison. And possibly more fun, too, as the approach is much shorter and you get to have your picture taken while standing in Teakettle's handle.

08/21/2016 21:48
Great trip report Jon! We were on Dallas yesterday (8/20) and heard about the party of 11 several days before our summit. Rumor was it was an Outward Bound trip, but in reality it was y'all plus more. Very accurate description of our same adventure too! Well done!

Great Report
08/23/2016 21:49
Good job glad to see you made it. As always fantastic photographs. Hope you're having a great summer.

08/31/2016 09:20
Quick question---after getting 'totally confused' from Roach's description, wondering when you left your packs at the rock with the slings/webbing around it, which direction did you go from here for the belay to the top of summit rock? Thanks for report & pics. Isn't the rappel down from the top of the summit bloc in a different location from where you belayed up? Glad you 4 made it. Good job.

09/07/2016 09:00
Well that previous comment was "Dallas" & not Jagged... a friend & I attempted Dallas on Monday, September 5...your description was 'right on.' We found the gully and definitely thought that was class 5, but got up without too much difficulty. Looked at traverse to the technical pitch and there was snow, so we bailed. We had seen 3 guys (2 had axes) on the trail coming out on Sunday when we were backpacking in...NEXT YEAR. Was your blue rope a 60meter rope? Thickness--9mm? Just can't imagine doing Dallas with snow!! Gladbach was a great climber.

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