Wheeler Peak, Ruby Dome, Arc Dome


By: Karen Leonard


Thirteen hikers came out for this long trip, some 1600 miles, to bag these Nevada peaks whose beauty is legendary in, the DPS. On Sunday. July 1, we met for Wheeler at 7 am (California time) about 550 miles from LA, inside the Great Basin Nationial Park at the small parking area for hikers. The co-leader, Ron Hudson, and Hannah North had driven down from Boise, Idaho; some had come a day early to see the Lehman Caves. Duke and Penny Blakesley had gotten in on a candlelight tour at 6 pm Saturday, but most of the cave tours were fully booked on this holiday weekend. The climb of Wheeler involved 3100' gain, 9 miles round trip, and high altitude (13,063), and we came down in the early afternoon and set off for the vicinity of Ruby Dome. Many drove over Surprise Pass on 229 from 93 and camped in Lamoille Canyon at a spectacularly lovely campground that night; one group stayed in the KOA campground east of Elko. The Elko public swimming pool closes at 5 pm on Sundays, a disappointment...the $1.50 Fee was less than the $3.00 many of us paid for showers at various other places in Elko. One car got into the Spring Creek Campground (the gate was unlocked) and stayed there overnight. In the morning, this vehicle (Karen, Dale Van Dalsem, and Rheta Schoenman) turned out to be locked in, and when the others turned up at the 8 am meeting time, Duke Blakesley went and got the key from the Property Owners Association, successfully persuading them to let us all drive up to the trailhead for Ruby Dome. (Leonard had failed to line the key up in advance.) We started around 8:40 am and were back in the late afternoon. The 11,387' summit involved 4300' gain, and 8-9 miles round trip. The climb was beautiful and the snow hampered us very little; we went up the left ridge rather than up to the saddle and ridge to the right of the peak, since that saddle and ridge featured overhanging snow cornices. Most of us went to the well-recommended Nevada Basque restaurant in Elko for dinner, but it was closed on Monday so we ended up at the Star Basque restaurant in the next block. Again some camped in Lamoille Canyon.

The 3rd of July was an "off" climbing day, but two tireless pairs (Ron and Hannah and Dale and Rheta) p1anned to climb Jefferson then. Leonard who had Jefferson, had selfishly planned a day of leisure to drive the approximately 300 miles between Ruby and Arc Dome, searching for Diana's Punch Bowl and some hot springs (at least 40 miles south of 50 on the dirt road to Belmont some 30 miles west of Eureka) so glowingly written about by Owen Maloy. Owen's letter did not mention distance, so two cars without topos (Dick Agnos and Karen Leonard, Jim Conley and Jon Manash) gave up and continued west to Austin for lunch, but Fred Bright and Suzanne Booker found these marvels, as did Ron, and Hannah on their way to climb Jefferson earlier that morning. Ron and Hannah dipped in some hot springs and were fiercely bitten by tiny red mites....George Toby and Gisela Kiuwin were first to arrive at the Columbine campground, the roadhead for Arc Dome, and it offered plenty of fish, flowers, and birds to entertain us. By 10 pm that night all had arrived for a good campfire. The Wednesday hike of Arc Dome (11,773') from the west involved 4600' gain, 10 miles round trip. We began at 6 am and were back by 2 pm, coming down the loop trail into a steep brushy canyon, on the way back. All hikers did all three peaks and the Jefferson hikers were successful too. These peaks are high and scenic and the views, from roads. Mountains, and campgrounds, were just great. Thanks to all the participants for a fine time, and especially to Ron for coming down to lead us on the climbs.

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

DPS Archives Index | Desert Peaks Section