Dallas Kloke – Honoring His Legacy
A Witness of Jesus Christ
September 14, 1939 to September 25, 2010
By Calvin Landrus, National Director of Solid Rock - Climbers for Christ
Ten feet short of “The Pleiades” summit in North Cascades of Washington, Dallas Kloke dislodged a coffee-table sized block that knocked him off his route. He was part of a party of five that were scrambling un-roped on 3rd/4th class terrain. His partners watched him fall 300 feet, which appeared to be fatal before they lost sight of him.
One member of the party down climbed several hundred feet on sketchy terrain and found a couple articles of clothing, but no Dallas. He estimated that Dallas had fallen considerably farther, and that survival was not possible. The party could not get cell reception on the peak, and had to return part way to the highway before contacting the authorities. The mission to recover Dallas’s body was ongoing as it was hampered by poor weather and difficult terrain. His body was recovered five days after the fall.
Dallas Kloke was a husband, father, Christ-follower, friend, climber, runner, a SRCFC member since 1992, SRCFC Board of Director Member and SRCFC Western Washington Chapter Coordinator. He was 71 years old.
Fellow Anacortes Solid Rocker, Aaron Bryant, wrote this two days after Dallas’ fall, “Saw him on Thursday at Mt. Erie (home of many of his hundreds of first ascents), after he had ridden his bike up to the top. I would have not been able to breathe after that, but he just launches into some new ideas he had, and talking about some homeless teens that he had been working with. Amazing guy. He lived wholeheartedly. He had joy.” Pretty much sums up Dallas.
I was blessed to share the rope with him several times. My favorite time with him was in 2005 in New York at the Gunks. We were at a SRCFC National Conference and we were climbing as a group. All day long, Dallas passed-up opportunities to pull away from the group. Evening was approaching fast and I knew he hadn’t been able to climb a classic route, High Exposure, that he really wanted to do. Since everyone else was tired, Dallas gave-in to my insistence to do it. We had a blast busting out the three pitch route in fading light.
Dallas was legendary in the Washington climbing scene. He was known not so much for the difficulty at which he climbed but for his volume of climbs. I had pressed him several times about the number of first ascents he had done and I never did get a straight answer. The number is sure to be in the hundreds!
His last minutes on this earth must have been a joy! The pleasure of movement in 3rd/4th class, alpine terrain on a high peak on a beautiful September day with climbing partners. And in moments of terror during the fall, I know the peace of Jesus Christ was with him. Jesus was with Dallas up to the moment he took his last breath, and now Dallas is with Jesus forever. The relationship continues, just in a different way: face to face and not just heart to heart.
How do I know this? Because I could share about the number of times he spoke of his love for Jesus. More powerfully, I know this through the numerous writings he shared with me and other members of SRCFC. Please honor him by hearing his heart-felt desire for you to be a Christ-follower.
In an article Dallas wrote in 2007 answering the question, “Why Do You Climb in the Face of So Much Danger?” he shared, “I believe God doesn’t want me, as a Christian, to do something fool hardy with the life He gave me.” He also wrote, “I ‘love’ the mountains and crag climbing, but I don’t want to die there.” Through his approach to climbing, he glorified God by being “safe and sane.”
He also knew that climbing had its risks and he accepted that. He wrote in another article simply called “My Thoughts about Climbing and God” this: “Risk is a part of life. In the things we do, we take risks; some small, some large. We can risk our health by overeating, smoking, not exercising or taking illegal drugs. We risk our character by our behaviors and actions towards others, like cheating, telling lies and being dishonest. We can risk life or limb by the way we drive, cross the street, or handle a gun. We also take risks by helping a person in a dangerous situation, or standing up for a belief or truth that goes against popular thought. Some things are worth the risk, others are not.”
Dallas opened that article with a quote from Tim Hansel in HOLY SWEAT: “I would hate to get to the end of my life and realize I had not lived, that I’d never dared to take a chance to love, to explore, to realize my best. Maybe the greatest risk in life is not to risk.” His view of risk and climbing can be summed-up in this quote he often shared, “Safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of Jesus Christ.”
In another writing, Dallas observed that the Mt. Hood tragedy in December 2006 where three climbers perished was a witness for Jesus Christ. He pointed out that the pastor of Kelly James, whose body was found in a snow cave, said, “He knew the risk of what he did and yet he was always the kind of guy who could see past the summit and knew that when life was over, it’s not over.” He summed-up his thoughts on it this way, “Death is not a tragedy; it only is if you don’t know Jesus Christ. Behind what appears to be human luck lies divine purpose. Even in the “accidents” of life, the hand of God is at work on our behalf.”
With all this in mind, to honor Dallas is to know he would want his death to be a witness of Jesus Christ. Take his words to heart, “In Heaven is God, the Creator of the universe. Heaven is a place for the person who has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. You can’t just do good works to get there. It really doesn’t depend upon other people. It depends on your relationship with Christ. Heaven is for all eternity.”
So today is the day for you to act on the message of Dallas’s favorite verse, John 3:16, “"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Believe and be saved!
Share your Dallas comments or story by emailing Calvin@srcfc.org.