I departed BW parking lot at first light, crossed the mouth of Bad Canyon and ascended up a pre-scouted route of the south ridge to the first knoll which was very steep but using the rocks and ledges as a stairway made this non-technical.
Following the ridgeline, all the way to Hades Fault was also steep but there was a clearly defined path created by other hikers and the bighorn sheep. There were six knolls or crests along the way to Hades Fault affording spectacular views in all directions. I get a big charge out of watching the perspective change with elevation gain. The wind was gusting from the south with visibility moderate.
Hades Fault was better than I expected with wild colors and geological formations. Someone had created a large marker of rocks atop the Hades Fault west crest. Scrambling up out of the fault to the east towards Dantes' Peaks was challenging due to the ball bearing like scree but it wasn't dangerous.
While scouting a possible route up to Dantes Peak from Hades Fault two days prior while I stashed my water I believed scrambling up the steep slope through the chutes, slots, and scree was possible but I was not sure of the exact route and worried about getting stopped out and having to scramble around dead ends. I was most lucky at selecting a route up that zigzagged through the crags without any retreats and do-overs. While doing so, I was able to select a more expeditious return route thus saving valuable time.
It was a thrill to stand atop Dantes Peak although wobbly due to fatigue and high gusty winds. I took a rare selfie with Dantes View in the background to the south just to prove I had actually made the summit. LOL
Scrambling back down several hundred yards to find my water stash was funny because I could not locate it. I was contemplating whether to bum a ride back to Badwater or attempt the return with limited water when to my amazement a man and woman couple appeared having followed my footsteps and track up from Badwater about a half hour or hour behind me. I had not seen them but they had spotted me ahead of them on the ridgeline coming up. For some reason, they thought there was another person hiking with me.
Befuddled and distracted by my inability to locate the water stash and surprised to have this couple who were at least late sixties or early seventies in age completing this challenging hike I failed to get their names and to snap a photo of them. They offered me a ride back to Badwater with their friend who was awaiting them at Dantes View parking lot.
I decided to remain and search more for my stash thinking that if I didn't find it shortly I'd rush and catch up to my friendly couple and take them up on the hitch back to BW. So I finally found my stash and headed back down to BW after wasting about a half hour. The couple thought I was nuts to return back at about 2:30 PM but I thought I'd make it back by dark which turned out to be correct.
Due to being in a hurry to retreat before dark and not having a waning moon for light until much later in the night and with 30-45 MPH gusts I only took images of the return at the last knoll before descending into Bad Canyon and across to BW. I only had to use my headlamp at the very end.
Afterthoughts: A superficial Google search for hikes from BW to Dantes Peak found nothing. There is Steve Hall's descent from Dantes Peak to BW but I can't find anything about a round trip. It might be rare but I am highly doubtful about being the first human to hike up and back because it is quite do-able without ropes or climbing shoes. The path along the ridgeline and into Hades Fault seems to be fairly well traveled as well. The bighorn sheep tracks really help the trail finding. And if a "senior couple" can make the hike up nearly anyone can who is in shape and takes their time. I was nearly maxed out when reaching my car at BW parking but not in any serious trouble but did feel the beginning of a leg cramp in my right hammy but it went away.
I don't want to repeat this hike but am so glad that I overcame my doubts and worries and pushed ahead. The views and exhilaration from being on "the edge" were so worth the effort.