Mount Jefferson


By: Igor Mamedalin


Last year after being smoked out of the Sierra On the Labor Day weekend, we (Suzanne, John and Wendy McCully, and I) ventured east in search of blue skies and things to climb. With only a AAA map to guide, we found Mt. Jefferson. but Toiyabe Dome was more elusive. So, we swore to come back another year and conquers We set aside Memorial Day weekend to climb Jefferson and Toiyabe Dome via the South Twin River route. We planned diligently, studied the maps, read past trip write ups, consulted with the ranger on snow levels and access road conditions. All of our ducks were in line, or so we thought.

Saturday morning we met the rest of the eager climbers at the Junction of 378 and the Monitor Valley road 19 miles northeast of Tonopah. We caravaned north on the Monitor Valley road through the "ghost" town of Belmont to the turnoff at the posted Meadow Canyon dirt road. The road is passable to all cars until one mile below Jefferson Summit" (pass). One Volvo made it all the way to the pass. From Jefferson Summit we consolidated into the 4WD vehicles and followed a faint road along the ridge toward the summit for another 2-3 miles. There were sparse patches of snow on the summit. Beneath gathering clouds we completed the uneventful climb of Jefferson, mostly along a good trail, in less than 3 hours. As we passed through Belmont, we had occasion to stop at the only bar in town. It was packed by a lively crowd of folks from Tonopah being entertained by a crew of country musicians belting out their best notes to all. Our crowd blended in easily and soon I heard requests to camp that night in the bar's parking lot. But alas, threatening to sign out those that staved behind, I herded the jubilant DPSers back onto the road. Passing through Manhattan and Carver's we turned off from 378 onto a posted dirt road leading to the South Twin River.

Just as we started to pick our camp spots and swat mosquitoes at the end of the dirt road .3 mites), we realized that two vehicles were missing. Heading back to the highway, we found both vehicles at Carver's. Wynne Benti's Izuzu towed Frank Dobos' Scout back to town: Frank's Scout had a major seizure just after he turned onto the dirt road. Without a reliable mechanic at hand to assess the damage, we left Dobos and his Scout at Carver's as we retreated to the trailhead for the evening. At this point, Frank did not share our spirits nor had the desire to partake in the next day's climbing activities.

That evening the mosquitoes retreated to their shelters as the rain began. "Good! The weather will pass by morning," were the famous last words that evening. The rain and then sleet along with a wind continued through the night. Several tent occupants abandoned their fortresses to spend the remaining dark hours sitting in their cars. Julie King sought shelter in her bivy sack beneath a high clearance vehicle. Dawn came without any change in the weather conditions; the surrounding hillsides at the 4,000" elevation were covered with snow. That night John and Wendy McCully and their dog, Chessie, joined us to share the good weather. After a quick poll of the participants, the plan to climb Toiyabe Dome that day was scrapped as the group descended upon Carver's for breakfast.

Luckily, the only cafe in town was prepared to serve an excellent breakfast to 18 cold and miserable DPSers at 7 am Sunday morning along with entertainment. The entertainment was provided by a Willie Nelson type guitar picker who exchanged well sung ballads for beers. After breakfast a few phone calls were made and a "qualified" mechanic for Frank's Scout was found at Round Mountain nine miles away. Round Mountain is a town built to service a large active gold mine. After towing Frank's Scout to Round Mountain, the group split up: some folks headed home, some were going to attempt a peak or two further south on their way home, while the leaders and John and Wendy were going to drive to Elko for an attempt on Ruby Mountain (the weather will clear for sure on Monday!) Well, to make it short -- the weather did not clear in Elko nor in Ely as we positioned ourselves for Wheeler: giving up on Nevada peaks, then Suzanne and I drove to Southeast Utah and spent the remaining week touring Edward Abbey country.

The remaining shortchanged climbers were: Jim Kilberg, Hoda Shalaby, Ruth Lee Brown, Don Skaglund, George Tucker, Nina Zotten, Jon Manash, Don Cook, Karen Leonard, Bob Wyka, and Delores Holladay. Some of the above were first time desert peakers -- snow in the desert'?

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