Wheeler Peak, Ruby Mountain, Arc Dome, Mount Jefferson
By: John Hellman
We did the peaks in the above order, giving us ample time to return home at a reasonable hour after climbing Jefferson on Monday. Driving time from L.A. thru Las Vegas to the end of the road at Wheeler Campground was 11 hours including dinner stop.
We climbed Wheeler from the trailhead, "Horse Loading Facilities," on the Forest Service map, 5 mi, 3000' gain. On the return we left the trail and took a gully directly to Stella Lake, then the trail to the campground. A round trip time of 4-1/2 hours gave us ample time to drive to Elko for dinner and on to camp. After hearing various reports of access problems to Hennen Canyon and Ruby Dome, we phoned Mel Rosen at Spring Creek Corporation, 251 W. Commercial, Elko, Nev. 89801, (702-738-8081), explained our purpose and was told that the gate was not locked, the campground is for the use of employees but we were welcome to go on in and use it without charge.
In Elko we took 5th St. south which becomes the paved road to Lamoille. About 17 ml. out we turned right on a dirt road signed Pleasant Valley, for 3 mi. then left thru the unlocked gate for about a mile to the campground and the end of the road. We hiked a faint usage trail on the left side of the stream to Griswold Lake, then southeast, crossing the ridge at about 10,400' right of a small bump, then up to a gully which gained the main ridge about 200 yards west of the summit, 5000' gain, 4 hours up and 3 hours down.
We drove to Battle Mountain then to Austin on #8A. We had an unusually excellent dinner at the Stagecoach Inn at a reasonable price (closes 8 PM). We drove southwest on #2 & #21 to Reese River (in the center of Section 15 on the Forest Service map). From this point some people have had difficulty finding Columbine Campground because of the numerous forks in the dirt road. Take the road to Stewart Creek. It is best to have the Toiyabe Forest Service map, Fallon Ranger District, D-7, and follow the road numbered #119 on the map though there are no signs on the road. The campground is the end of the road for all but small 4-wheel drives. We were fortunate to have Wes Shelberg who hauled 7 of us up the jeep trail for another 2000' of gain. When the peak first comes into view it is important not to head straight for it but contour to the left and along the top of the ridge to the east in order to reach the proper saddle.
Thanks to Wes Shelberg's Bronco we were back in Austin for an early dinner at the Stagecoach Inn. We drove east on #50 12 miles then southeast on an unnumbered dirt road to #82. After 8 miles south on #82 we turned at a sign "Dianas Punch Bowl" for one mile to an excellent undeveloped hot spring. After a delightful dip we continued south on #82 to Meadow Canyon road and camped several miles in.
Monday morning we drove on to Jefferson Pass then north along the fence on a road that would be doubtful for some cars. The hike up the ridge is easy. We were back to the car at 11:30 and headed for home.
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