Dallas Peak – 13,809 ft.
At 13,809 feet, Dallas Peak has the distinction of being the shortest Centennial Peak. It’s #100 on the list in elevation. But as anyone who has spent time in the mountains knows, shorter doesn’t equate to being easier. While Dallas may rank lower in elevation when compared to its peers, the community consensus ranks it as the most challenging Centennial summit to climb. So in a strange bit of numerical irony, #100 in elevation ranks first in difficulty.
It’s deserving of the status. It’s steep, the routes are complex, giant cliff bands block most direct approaches, and the rock is all very loose. But it’s the the final stretch to the summit that solidifies its reputation as most challenging, where a 90-foot, 5th class chimney (5.3) on the mountain’s north side must be climbed to gain the summit.
As you traverse out to the base of the chimney, in the cold, breezy shade of the north face, huge cliffs below exert their pull on you. It’s a chilly proposition in the height of summer, and is even less friendly when you add a full season’s snow like we had. There’s ice on the rock and the winds blow up the face, which makes communication difficult while spindrift flies everywhere. Once at the summit you’re only half way there, and some excavating and/or creative anchor building is needed to rig a suitable rappel to get everyone back down. Suffice to say, the technical finish on Dallas (like Teakettle, Jagged) prevents a ski descent from its exact summit.
It ended up being an incredibly memorable day. The cold, clear morning transitioned into a bluebird May day, and the recent storms had deposited an impressive amount of new snow up high. As we ascended the south and east sides of the mountain, it was exhausting work to set a trail in new snow that was at times more than two feet deep. Once we reached the high corner that took us around to the north face, Dav took the lead and made a really impressive solo up the chimney.
And then it was time to get down off the summit and ski. We rappelled down and traversed back to the east side, where we switched to ski mode and got an unbelievably fun descent down the flanks of Dallas Peak in spring powder. We had long wondered how this day would go, and we couldn’t be more psyched to have got it in such great conditions. The challenging peaks are what make this whole project worth doing, and Dallas will stand out as one of our favorites.