Peak(s):  Dallas Pk  -  13,809 feet
"T 0"  -  13,735 feet
Grizzly Pk C  -  13,700 feet
Greylock Mtn  -  13,575 feet
McCauley Pk  -  13,554 feet
Leviathan Pk  -  13,528 feet
PT 13,121  -  13,121 feet
Hope Mtn  -  13,012 feet
Date Posted:  08/26/2017
Modified:  10/19/2018
Date Climbed:   08/22/2017
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Dallas Peak (and Seven Other Pretty Cool Peaks)  

Friday, August 11, 2017
Randy Mack and I headed to the San Juans and then the Elks from August 11 - 22, 2017, chasing centennials as well as lower summits. Our initial goals were peaks near Vallecito Creek in the Weminuche Wilderness.

We made the long drive past Rio Grande Reservoir to the Hunchback Pass Trailhead, ate dinner, and started backpacking at 7:25 PM with less than 90 minutes of daylight left. We made it over Hunchback Pass and stopped at a campsite near 11,600', roughly 1/4 mile above Nebo Creek.

Saturday, August 12, 2017
After Randy and I reached the Vallecito Creek Trail - Nebo Creek Trail intersection, we followed the Vallecito Creek Trail about two miles past Rock Creek to an open area south of Sunlight Creek. We found a trail that went north toward Sunlight Creek, but along the way we had to ford Vallecito Creek. In an effort to save weight, we brought only one pair of water shoes and figured that the first of us to cross Vallecito Creek could toss the water shoes across the creek to the second. A poor throw might have sent the water shoes floating down Vallecito Creek, but our plan worked to perfection.

What didn't work to perfection, however, was following the trail. Not long after we crossed Sunlight Creek, a rogue trail intersection led us astray. (When hiking out three days later, we blocked off the incorrect trail with logs and rocks so no one else makes the same mistake.) Despite the time wasted due to following the wrong trail, we got back on track and reached a nice campsite at 11,550' early enough to rest for a few hours. In our opinion, the Sunlight Creek Trail is a better trail than the Ruby Creek Trail. Those of you have have been up the Ruby Creek Trail may think that's not saying much, but the Sunlight Creek Trail isn't as steep or rough as the Ruby Creek Trail, and it's shorter, too.

Our Sunlight Creek campsite

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Skies were partly cloudy when we got up. Our plan was to climb Jagged Mountain (13,824') today. We followed the Sunlight Lake Trail a short distance past our campsite before ascending NNE and then NNW to where we were ready to approach Jagged. Although it was early, clouds were already building and made us nervous about getting caught on Jagged in bad weather. We opted to bail and head for the far easier Leviathan Peak (13,528') instead. Climbing Leviathan involved scrambling up its SW ridge and bypassing the 13,420' false summit on the left (west).

Jagged Mountain from partway up Leviathan Peak. You can see from the skies why we opted to postpone Jagged to another day.

On the summit of Leviathan Peak

Jagged Mtn. from the summit of Leviathan Peak. Jagged Pass is visible at the right of the photo

We did not find a summit register on Leviathan, but we did find rain as we descended. The rain convinced us we'd made the right decision to climb Jagged Mtn. another day.

Route to Leviathan Peak from camp along Sunlight Creek

Monday, August 14, 2017
Randy and I saw nothing but stars in the sky when we got up. Woohoo! We followed the Sunlight Creek Trail to Sunlight Lake and continued hiking to an unnamed lake at 12,545'.

Sunrise from above Sunlight Lake

We'd planned to ascend SW to the Windom Peak - Sunlight Spire saddle and then climb Peak Eleven (13,540') from Twin Lakes Basin. However, the gully to this saddle was snow-filled, and we hadn't brought ice axes or traction. From a distance, it wasn't clear whether we could ascend the gully by staying adjacent to the snow. Time for Plan B: Greylock Mountain (13,575') and Unnamed (UN) 13121.

Cascades below the outlet from the unnamed lake at 12,545'

Randy and I climbed south to a saddle just west of a 13,229' ridge point and then followed the ridge SE to the summit of Greylock Mountain. Along the way we bypassed a few ridge difficulties but encountered nothing problematic. Mark and Logan Ott (famous for their impressive Turret Peak - Peak Fifteen traverse) had left the makeshift register in 2014.

The makeshift summit register on Greylock Mountain hasn't been getting very many signatures

Randy and Eddie on the summit of Greylock Mountain

The view from the summit of Greylock Mountain

Another view from the summit of Greylock Mountain

Our next objective (UN 13121) from the summit of Greylock Mountain

We descended NE to the Greylock - UN 13121 saddle. From there, it was easiest to bypass ridge difficulties on the left (north) and then climb back toward the ridge. Some of the moves to get onto the summit of UN 13121 were exposed enough that Randy suggested the peak be given the name "Pucker Point." The makeshift register had five signatures in 2014, three in 2015, none in 2016, and none (before ours) in 2017.

Approaching the summit block of UN 13121

Climbing onto the summit block of UN 13121. Some of the route is surprisingly airy

Looking back at Greylock Mountain from UN 13121

After enjoying the views from the summit of UN 13121, we headed back to its saddle with Greylock Mountain and descended NW into the basin before continuing back to Sunlight Lake. It was nice to have a trail from there to our campsite.

Some cascades we saw on the way back to camp

The south side of Jagged Mtn. Has it ever been climbed from this side?

Blue = Ascent Route on Greylock Mtn. and Unnamed 13,121'; red = descent route from Unnamed 13,121'

Randy and I broke camp and backpacked down to the Vallecito Creek Trail in occasional rain and stopped at a campsite not too far south of Sunlight Creek. (This was the same site where we'd camped in 2011 after climbing Mt. Oso.) Because an old log at the south end of the site was now the home for some bees, we made it a point to stay at the other end of the campsite.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
After sleeping in, we broke camp and backpacked about three miles south to the Johnson Creek Trail, where we encountered the first people we'd seen in three days.

The Johnson Creek Trail's bridge across Vallecito Creek

Initially, we'd planned to camp below timberline along the Johnson Creek Trail at about 11,160', but it was so early that we continued on to about 12,320' near Columbine Lake. We spent the afternoon lounging around the campsite and reviewing our plans to climb Grizzly Peak C (13,700') and McCauley Peak (13,554') tomorrow.

Johnson Creek offers the opportunity to go dam-sliding

In this section of the Johnson Creek Trail, Johnson Creek is far below the trail

Looking up the valley toward Columbine Pass from about 11,200' on the Johnson Creek Trail

Our campsite at Columbine Lake. Due to strong winds, we opted to use guy lines to stabilize the tent

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Randy and I headed NE across the tundra to the saddle north of Hope Mountain and then dropped into the basin north of Hazel Lake.

Looking south at Hazel Lake in the early morning light

We climbed up the grass and rock at the left side of the photo below and then up an obvious rocky ramp that angles left-to-right to Grizzly Peak's NW ridge. From here, we contoured below the ridge on its north (left) side -- multiple route options are available -- until we could climb to the summit. The makeshift summit register was wet, so we left several sheets of paper in a ziplock bag.

Grizzly Peak C (13,700')

Randy is heading up the angling ramp on Grizzly Peak C (13,700')

Almost to the summit of Grizzly Peak C (13,700')

Looking NW toward Jupiter Mountain and Windom Peak from the summit of Grizzly Peak

We returned to the angling ramp, descended to about 12,650', and did a climbing contour to the Grizzly Peak - McCauley Peak saddle.

Looking back toward Grizzly Peak from our climbing contour to McCauley Peak below the rocks to the right

Looking toward McCauley Peak from the same location as the previous photo

Looking SE up the ridge toward McCauley Peak. The summit is far left

As we got closer to McCauley Peak's summit, the ridge became rougher but we found that staying on the ridge proper generally worked well, with the occasional move to one side or the other.

McCauley Peak's summit included an old iron rod, perhaps from one of the many mines in the area

We headed back to the McCauley - Grizzly saddle and descended directly toward Hazel Lake's outlet before climbing to the saddle north of Hope Mountain. Randy headed up Hope Mountain (13,012') while I headed back to camp and packed up.

The summit register canister I left on Hope Mtn. in 1999 was still there, but my register was gone and the canister was empty

Blue = ascent route on Grizzly Peak, McCauley Peak, and Hope Mtn.; red = descent route from McCauley

We backpacked down the Johnson Creek Trail and continued up the Vallecito Creek Trail, stopping at the same campsite where we'd stayed on Monday night.

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Randy and I slept in and then backpacked over Hunchback Pass to the trailhead. Along the way, we met a guy (Jeff) who recognized Randy from the video of him climbing Teakettle's summit block in 2014 that we'd included in our trip report. We drove over Stony Pass to Silverton, got the last available room at the Triangle Motel, and, after taking much-needed showers, went to the Brown Bear Restaurant for dinner.

Friday, August 18, 2017
We drove to Telluride, ate pizza for lunch, and then backpacked about three miles to a campsite at 11,400' along the Sneffels Highline Trail. Three guys from Colorado Springs arrived about an hour later, and we learned that they also planned to climb Dallas Peak tomorrow. Happily, the weather forecast couldn't have been any better for this weekend.

Pizza at the Brown Dog Restaurant in Telluride was delicious

Saturday, August 19, 2017
Randy and I followed the Sneffels Highline Trail about 1/2 mile east of our campsite to 11,300', where we left the trail and headed north up steep grass and rock toward the cliffs guarding Dallas Peak's south side. At the upper cliff band, we followed a climber's trail NE to a small ridge where we turned the corner and continued toward the summit block.

The cliffs on Dallas Peak's south side

Looking back at the traverse below the cliffs

After scrambling around to the north face and descending the Roaches' "20-foot-wide sloping ramp," we opted to skip their suggested summit pitch and traversed another 25' or so to where we found an easier way up. After we'd been on the summit about 30 minutes, the three guys camped near us arrived.

Approaching Dallas Peak's summit block

Scrambling onto Dallas Peak's summit

The view from the summit of Dallas Peak

Randy and Eddie on the summit of Dallas Peak, with Mt. Sneffels (14,150') in the background

Dallas Peak's west ridge (with T-0 behind) from the summit of Dallas Peak

Blue Lakes from the summit of Dallas Peak

After we signed the makeshift summit register, Randy rappelled from the summit block while the other four of us elected to downclimb. I was glad to have rock shoes for the extra traction.

Randy's about to finish his second rappel

It was nice to relax in our tent after we returned to our campsite.

Sunday, August 20, 2017
My left knee had been protesting during our descent yesterday, so I opted out of today's climb of T-0. Because we needed to have enough time this afternoon to hike back to the trailhead with our backpacks and drive for about five hours to Lead King Basin, Randy began hiking up into the basin below T-0 at about 3:45, reaching the 12,800' level around two hours later. Following Garratt & Martin's directions, he climbed left (west) from here to the north-south ridge which led to the long east-west ridge connecting T-0 and "West Dallas." After watching the sun rise on the San Miguels, Randy began to climb north toward some rocky pinnacles.

Looking down at the lights of Telluride in the early morning light

G&M suggest that safer passage to higher and easier ground could be found to the right in some steep gullies. However, Randy soon found himself on perilous terrain, with the pinnacles and gullies between them being comprised of dangerously loose rock, which was weaker and more unstable than anything he had previously climbed on. After deciding that he felt too unsafe to continue further on G&M's suggested route, Randy made his way back down into the basin. He found a larger gully farther to the right which he made his way up. It was loose, but seemed to be slightly less steep than his previous route. At the top of the gully, Randy's passage to the ridge crest was blocked by cliffs. He delicately traversed to his right for about 200' until being able to scramble up to the top of the ridge. Randy followed a faint use trail (likely created by climbers traversing between "West Dallas" and T-0) which led him along the north side of the ridge until he rejoined the standard route. From here, it was an easy hike/scramble for the remaining 1/2 mile to the summit of T-0 (13,735'). Surprisingly, there was a CMC summit register.

The ridge to the summit of T-0 seen from near "West Dallas." Cliffs are bypassed on the right (north) side

Dallas Peak and Mt. Sneffels from T-0's summit

As Randy returned along the ridge, he met two members of the group of three who had climbed Dallas Peak yesterday as they were heading to T-0's summit. Not wanting to descend the loose rock which had comprised his ascent route, Randy instead chose to follow the ridge back toward "West Dallas" and descend a broad talus slope SW into the other side of the basin from which he had climbed earlier. This proved to be a much safer route than Randy's earlier one, and if he had to recommend the best route for climbing T-0, this would be it.

Looking down toward the basin from below "West Dallas." Randy's descent route follows the yellow line

G&M's route follows the ridge on the left side. The rotten pinnacles are seen here

I broke camp while Randy climbed T-0, so as soon as he returned we began backpacking to the trailhead. We had just started driving away from the trailhead when we saw a young black bear ambling off the road.

A young black bear just below Mill Creek Road

We drove through Montrose and Delta, crossed McClure Pass, and drove through Marble to Lead King Basin, where we set up camp at the trailhead for Geneva Lake. It was a long drive from Telluride, but we were able to pull it off and still have a couple hours of daylight left.

Click here for the Elks part of our trip.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

08/26/2017 20:08
Looks like you're having another fine summer Eddie! All of these are on the very soon list. Sunlight trail > ruby trail. noted. Nice job. Even a bear!


Jagged South Face
08/30/2017 22:44
Excellent report! Thank you for sharing these more "out there" 13ers, I'll likely return to this TR next summer. Regarding your caption about Jagged, here's a link to a TR by user Warg, I believe he down-climbed the South Face of Jagged.


Now I feel silly
09/01/2017 05:24
for going up Dallas again with my buddy Joe from Chicago with ropes and gear when you found a secret passage. Shhhh! But it felt good to keep everyone safe and rappel the east from the summit proper. Did you see we actually signed the summit register on this one?


09/06/2017 10:50
Dillon: Just to be clear, we think the Sunlight Creek Trail is a better trail than the Ruby Creek Trail, but that doesn't make it a good trail. There are a fair number of downed trees to step over and a section of willows and young aspens that make the trail feel like a jungle. However, the Sunlight Creek Trail doesn't have the brutally steep/slick sections that the Ruby Creek Trail does. For an approach to Jagged Mtn., we think the Sunlight route is easier than Noname Creek (and cheaper, too; no train required).

Rob: Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

Amy: I know you don't generally sign registers, but yes, we saw your autograph.


09/07/2017 07:14
We almost met up there Eddie. I did Greylock,Grizzly and some others a week after you were there,from Chicago Basin though. No easy way to get to some of those. Well done!

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