Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2019-08-12
|Date:||Monday, August 12, 2019|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||13063 ft / 3981 m|
Ascent Trip ReportDriving back to California from Moab, I elected to take the Route 50, instead of the typical I-15 through Las Vegas. Route 50 through Nevada has earned the moniker of "The Loneliest Highway in America". I reached the border of Nevada right around 6:30pm when I was starting to get tired. I looked at what was nearby for me to spend the night and to my surprise, the Great Basin National Park was only 15 minutes away. I camped in my car at the Wheeler Peak Campground - surprisingly full for a Sunday night. It's a beautiful campground with a stunning view of the craggy Wheeler Peak massif. I couldn't come out here and not hike up to the top of that thing!
I woke up about 6am as the sun was coming up - it was very cold. When it's cold like that it takes me a while to get moving. I only got started at 7:30am and started trekking up towards the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. It was a beautiful clear day. I was in awe of the beauty of this area. I had seen several deer the night before and now I was walking by some wild grouse with beautiful plumage. The hike to the summit is a little strenuous but very simple - it follows a ridge to the top and has amazing views the whole way. The wind picks up along the ridge - it must be normal, because there are several wind shelters along the way to the top. I threw on my windbreaker and it was enough. I passed a couple with about a mile to go to the summit. I arrived up there and I had the whole summit to myself at 9:30am. I spent about 30 minutes on top. Spectacular views.
On the way down I was eyeing the Wheeler Peak Glacier down below - it's the only glacier in Nevada. I decided I wanted a closer look, so I descended down the scree field to the intermediate ridge. I scoped out a descent route to get down to the glacier, but as I traversed to it, there was a massive cliff drop. So I diverted my route to scramble down the loose, steep eastern-facing face. This was class 4 and very slow going. I finally reached the bottom of the valley at about 11:30am. I walked up to the top of the rock glacier where the actual glacier meets up with it. Pretty incredible. I took a moment to rest and meditate and think about Mark Twain's glacier quote from his time in Switzerland: “A man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by.”
I was back at my campsite by 12:30pm. Longer outing than I had planned due to the alternative descent, but wow, what a wonderful area. I would have never known. Loved everything about it.
|Summary Total Data|
| Total Elevation Gain:||3600 ft / 1096 m|
| Total Elevation Loss:||3600 ft / 1096 m|
| Round-Trip Distance:||10 mi / 16.1 km|
| Grade/Class:||Class 1 ascent, Clas|
| Quality:||8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)|
| Route Conditions:||Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble|
| Gear Used:||Ski Poles|
| Weather:||Pleasant, Calm, Clear|
| Gain on way in:||3300 ft / 1005 m|
| Gain Breakdown:||Net: 3000 ft / 914 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m|
| Loss on way in:||300 ft / 91 m|
| Distance:||5 mi / 8 km|
| Route:||Wheeler Peak Summit Trail|
| Start Trailhead:||Wheeler Peak Campground 10063 ft / 3067 m|
| Time:||2 Hours 0 Minutes|
| Loss on way out:||3300 ft / 1005 m|
| Loss Breakdown:||Net: 3000 ft / 914 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m|
| Gain on way out:||300 ft / 91 m|
| Distance:||5 mi / 8 km|
| Route:||Glacier Trail|
| End Trailhead:||Wheeler Peak Campground 10063 ft / 3067 m|
| Time:||3 Hours |
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