We (Tamara, Dylan and I) arrived in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon and met up with Taylor, Mom, Wayne, Janet and Bruce (friends of Mom's from Clinton, MA) at the cabin at Mount Charleston. Since the party was starting at 2PM (Sunday) Dylan and I figured we would have to get an alpine start to be back in time.
We were at the Trail Canyon trail head at 4:30AM on Sunday morning. Dylan set a blistering pace in the early morning light and we quickly gained 2000 feet in the first hour and a half. As we joined up with the North Loop trail we had our first view of the peak in the sunrise.
Once we reached the North Loop trail, we began a long slog that followed the contours of the mountain at roughly 10,200 feet. This slog lasted for roughly 4 miles and took us to the Devil's Thumb.
Our plan was to take the Devil's Thumb shortcut to add a little spice to the long hike. The Devil's Thumb is the band of cliffs on the right side of the photo below.
|Dylan on the Devil's Thumb|
|Rocking the 1980 Vuarnets at the summit|
Dylan was feeling great. In fact he ran down a portion of the trail!
We made it back to the trail head at 1:00PM just in time to take a shower and start partying.
Mount Charleston Stats:
4100 feet elevation gain
8.5 hours car to car
Our next step was to a take a detour on the way home to Idaho. So, on Monday afternoon, we left Tamara and Taylor with Mom and Wayne, and headed north for Baker, Nevada. After a 4 hour drive, we had our objective in sight - Wheeler Peak, Nevada's second highest peak at 13,063 feet.
|Wheeler Peak on the right|
As we were detailing our plans to Terry, another gentleman sitting there (we later learned his name was Dave) chimed in that he was planning on climbing Wheeler the next day as well. We quickly agreed that the three of us would head up the mountain together climbing Wheeler first and then following the ridge over to Jeff Davis Peak (Nevada's 3rd highest).
The next morning we followed each other up the short road to the trail head at 10,000 feet and hit the trail at approximately 6:30AM. There was a large cloud hanging over Wheeler and the wind was blowing pretty good, but we were not deterred.
After a short distance we took a detour to Stella Lake and here we saw a nice line that could be used to gain the summit ridge of Wheeler.
|Dylan and Dave looking over the couloir to the ridge|
Once on the ridge, we found the original summit trail which made the going pretty easy. By this time, the wind really started howling and the summit was shrouded in clouds. We put on our rain gear and continued up into the fog.
After another 30 minutes of fighting the gusty, cold winds we reached the summit! Total time was 2:45 to travel the 3000 feet elevation gain.
|Summit Splattski with Dylan, Dave, and myself|
|Posing in front of a 1000 year old Bristlecone pine|
|Dylan at the glacier|
As always happens, once off the mountain the clouds lifted and eventually disappeared.
|Looking back at the end of the day|
Elevation gain: 3000 feet
Distance: 3.2 miles to summit, 10 miles total
Car to car time: 6.5 hours
In talking with Dave that day, we found out that he was from New Jersey and had spent the last 5-6 years taking vacations out west to hike and climb mountains. This year happened to be at Great Basin National Park. We had a great time getting to know Dave and came away feeling great that we live in Idaho and can climb most anytime.