Hallett Peak Trip Report

Trail: Great Dihedral Variation, 5.8, ~8.5 miles, ~3300 ft elevation gain (3 Beta Photos At The End)

The Great Dihedral is a 3 pitch (5 if you finish the whole first buttress) rock climb on the first buttress of Hallett Peak that climbs the obvious dihedral just to the right of Hallett's Chimney.  I had first noticed this climb while trolling through the beta on Mountainproject but had not had the opportunity to climb it until recently.  As it turns out, Nick Moekel, the guy I climbed The Keyhole Ridge on Longs Peak with had done the climb the previous year and was looking forward to going back to it.  I'd never lead a full pitch of 5.7 before but had been working on leading 5.8-5.10a sport climbs quite a bit and also had been ticking through a good deal of alpine 5.6 routes with sections of 5.7 thrown in so I felt confident that the climb would be well within my ability.  

Nick and I settled on Tuesday, August 15th as the date for the climb and I met him at his house at 3:30 in the morning.    We quickly sorted out our gear which consisted of: a set of nuts, 3 tri-cams, 2 hexes, Cams from a green Alien to a number 4 BD with several sizes doubled, and 16 draws from 24 inches to 48 inches.  I quickly dubbed this 'the monster rack' and it would be horrendous overkill for more experienced parties but I wanted the option to sew the climb up.   While we ended up placing every single piece, the number 4 BD and tri cams as well as smaller nuts were totally unnecessary as the climb took things in the green to orange Alien range almost everywhere.  A double set of cams from green Aliens to a number 2 (maybe one 3) BD and a couple larger hexes would be completely sufficient to over protect the climb.

We arrived at the parking lot by 5:00 and set out.  I was hopeful that the weather would hold as I had turned around at the base of the technical pitches on Notchtop 3 days before due to rain.  I was climbing a good deal this week and would still be trying to climb Sharkstooth Saturday but I really wanted the Dihedral.  I think my prime motivation for climbing so many peaks was that I would be turning 30 this week and I was a little bummed out about that.  In any event Nick and I made quick work of the ~ 3 mile approach and arrived at the base of the climb by 6:15.  

Hallett Peak, 1st Buttress

Start Of Great Dihedral Route

Columbines In The Early Morning

We spent some time relaxing and enjoying the views before getting our harnesses on and our gear together.  I took a few shots of the surrounding area and some Columbines which were growing in the wall.   By the time we had the rope flaked and everything ready to go it was somewhere around 7:00 in the morning.  We broke the climb up in a somewhat contrived manner to maximize the number of enjoyable pitches we each took so, while I will describe how we did it, you could piece our route together and do it in fewer pitches.  

Super Rack

Nick headed off on the first pitch which wandered between 4th class and 5.5 with one totally unprotected stretch of face climbing which traversed around a roof.  This pitch was about 125 feet and ended up below a crack/corner system.  Nick belayed me to this point and mentioned that he stopped short of the classic dihedral pitch to give me the opportunity to lead the whole fun part of the climb.  I took the rope and worked my way up about 40 or 50 feet of 5.7.  The climbing was pleasant and involved a bit of stemming and face climbing and seemed harder to me than the classic dihedral pitch.

1st Part Of Dihedral Pitch

At the top of this short pitch I stopped and belayed Nick up to me.  It is more than possible to combine this pitch with the next one but I wanted a photograph of myself in the dihedral so I needed Nick in eyesight.

Nick, Coming Up The First 5.7 Part

Once Nick was up I headed up the 'crux' section of the climb.  This section was about 100 to 120 feet of perfect stemming up a 5.7 dihedral with a crack running along the left side.  This pitch was pretty easy and the crack took gear absolutely everywhere.  I obliged this by putting a piece in every 10 feet.  At no point was the climbing too thoughtful as a hand and foot hold always materialized on the well featured walls.  The top of the dihedral was the crux of this section as it required a traverse to the right or left of a bulge/roof.  I was able to throw in a red and orange Alien within three feet of each other and traversed left around the roof and then up to a big grassy ledge.  I threw the large cam into a crack and clipped a fixed piton before belaying Nick up.

Classic Hero Shot Of Me On The Great Dihedral Pitch

Self Portrait, By Nick

Looking Down

Nick made short work of the section and quickly arrived at the belay.  The next pitch normally follows a continuation of the dihedral but it quickly becomes broken, wider, and much easier so Nick wanted to move to the right and climb the face.  He headed up the corner below and then traversed out right before climbing up the face.

Start Of Our 4th Pitch

Nick, On The 5.8

Once he had successfully completed the face, Nick traversed back left and up a slot which dumped him on another ledge.  This pitch took about 150 feet of rope and definetly required long slings to minimize drag.  I followed up after Nick and once on the face realized the climbing was much harder here than on my pitch.  I'd say this part was hard 5.7 with sections of 5.8 thrown in so ultimately, Nick led the real crux of the day.

2nd Buttress On Hallett (Some Day)

After arriving at Nick's position I led the next pitch which took about 75 feet of rope and required a climb up to and traverse across some slabs before letting off on the huge ledge system halfway up the buttress.  The slab was steeper than it looked from below so I threw 3 pieces in to protect a fall.

The Headwall After The Great Dihedral, (Only 2 Pitches Left)

Once we reached the huge ledge we stopped and had lunch.  There were climbers on the Second Buttress which dwarfed the first one but also required harder climbing than I would be comfortable leading right now.  After resting for a bit we headed up to the base of the standard route which goes at 5.5 and tops out on the ridge leading to Hallett's top.  We had considered a tougher route but the clouds were beginning to roll in and I wanted to summit the peak.

Me, On The Standard Route

I took the first lead and moved up a much easier crack/dihedral than the one below.  At first I was putting in gear every 20 or so feet but the climbing quickly relented to 4th class to 5.4 with occasional high stepping 5.5 moves so I ran out about 60 feet of rope and finally stopped at about 160 feet when I found a decent belay on a huge grassy step.  I belayed Nick up to me and he then took off for the top.

Me, Belaying Nick On The Last Pitch

The last pitch was much cooler than the second to last one and involved solid 5.5 dihedral climbing almost to the top.  Since this was an alpine route there were the occasional stretches of moss, huge spider webs, and one tiny dirt ledge which gave way under my foot (I would have held on to the wall if I was leading but I would have been hanging).  This last pitch was about 175 feet and quite fun.  I've heard people complain about the moss and dirt and blah, blah, blah but I'd suggest they are more rock climbers than alpinists.  Most alpine routes I've been on in Colorado have the same character; ledges, dirt, moss, etc. It is what gives them character.  If I want pure, clean rock I'll go to well-used crags or aim for big walls.

Me, Finishing The Last Pitch

Nick, On Top Of The Route

After we topped out, we paused to eat and put our shoes back on.  I know most climbers don't like to carry thier pack with them but if it is 5.8 or under my pack always comes with me.  I believe in the motto 'Never get separated from your pack', and was quite happy to have shoes, water, a hat, and a candy bar.

Gee, I Hope That Hump Is Hallett

My Favorite Mountain, Longs Peak (So Many Routes, So Little Time&Skill)

The Actually Summit Of Hallett

The top of the climb is still about a half of a mile to a whole mile and probably 1000 feet of vertical elevation gain from the summit.  We panted our way to the top where we had a a nice chat with a family from Tampa before heading down.  The weather was looking somewhat suspect although not yet threatening so we moved at a brisk pace.  We left the summit of Hallett at 1:10 and headed over Flattop Mountain and down the standard trail.  We were back at the truck, 5 miles away,  by 3:00 in the afternoon and home by 4:30.

Heading Down

Looking Back, Yup, I climbed That, Yee-Ha

All in all this was a great climb for its grade. I'd consider it roughly on par with  Lone Eagle's North Face and The Ellingwood Arete on Crestone Needle in terms of climbing except that there is more actuall climbing on Hallett and, if you do not use our 5.8 variation, the crux on the Needle is more difficult than on Hallett.  The only places where it is inferior to those two climbs is that it does not summit and that the position, views, and peak itself are much less spectacular.


Hallett Peak, Courtesy Of Andy Leach

Great Dihedral Pitches, Courtesy Of Andy Leach

From The Ledge, Midway Up The First Buttress, Courtesy Of Leo Paik

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