Wheeler Peak


By: Dick Kenyon


Our chartered Greyhound rolled on through the night as 38 Desert Peakers and campers twisted themselves into odd positions in their seats to try with varying degrees of success to got a night's sleep. Arriving at Lehman Caves National Monument in east central Nevada on Fourth of July morning, we were welcomed by Bill Massey, acting Monument Superintendent, and Darwin Lambert, President Of the Great Basin Range National Park Association. We had been assured by several persons that it was impossible to drive our bus to nearby Lehman Cr. Campground. But the bus made it easily, less its three tons of passengers, who rode up in pickup trucks driven by several local ranchers who had generously volunteered their services.

That afternoon half the group knapsacked 5 miles up the Lehman Cr. trail to a timberline camp near Stella Lake. Threatening clouds and sprinkles at dusk caused some persons to crawl inside their polyethelene tubes for the night, but the skies soon cleared and the night was mild and dry.

Despite the abundance of publicity that the area has received, we saw no one in the back country except Sierra Clubbers (including two parties on independent trips). Everyone agreed that the scenery was as fine as had been advertised.

At 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning we began the 2,500 ft. climb directly up the north ridge to the summit of Wheeler Peak (13,063'). Polemonium and other alpine flowers grew abundantly among the rocks. Forbidding storm clouds were gathering over distant ranges, but the sun shone on our mountain until at 10:00 a.m., when all had reached the summit, a low-flying cloud started snowing on us, chasing us down from the peak and into the sunshine again. Happily, snowbanks completely covered the tedious and unstable crud of the chute that provides a shortcut route of descent to Stella Lake, making our return to camp very easy. By midafternoon we had knapsacked back to the bus.

The knapsackers took off by bus for a round-trip to the National Monument, where they took the tour through Lehman Caves. At campfire that night Bill Massey, Darwin Lambert, and Ralph Kaufman (mining geologist and lifetime resident of the area) participated in very interesting discussions of the area and of the proposed National Park. Your Chairman came away with a very good impression of the Great Basin Range National Park Association, and with a renewed realization of the importance of protecting this unique area.

The DPS owes a great deal of thanks to Darwin Lambert and Bill Massey and their associates for the splendid hospitality and many favors they rendered us, and to Bob and Emily Bear for their considerable amount of work in arranging the trip.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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