Rubies Day 6

By Luca

8 September 2011

Prior in the year, Ruby Dome had been one of the few failures of the whole 2011. When we attempted it few months before in our “Nevada quest number 1” the whole area was heavily glaciated above 9000 feet and we used snowshoes to move around. In terms of snow conditions, they were ideal, letting us avoid most of the boring talus we’ve done this time. The problem had been the extreme wind; we almost got to the notch between Ruby Dome and Ruby Pyramid, but the wind literally blew Ephrat away and was also giving me hard time. Decision of turning around is never easy and we were both upset at the time, but promised to go back and succeed. And there we were, at the same gate at approximately the same time, ready to start.

I initially thought it would be a good idea to sleep at the campground right at the trailhead, because it would save 1.5 miles and some elevation gain. But that proved to be not doable. The procedure for getting a key for opening the gate is midway between pathetic and ridiculous. The department that owns the land is based in Spring Creek and they are only open office hours (showstopper number 1, we would never be there 9-5). It costs 15 bucks per person (!), making it the most expensive campground ever with zero services (showstopper number 2). You have to pay a deposit that is generally done with a check, which everybody in the first world (Europe and Asia) considers an old-fashioned way to transfer money. Obviously, I didn’t have a check (showstopper number 3). While in San Francisco I called the woman at the desk in Spring Creek and I could tell a mile away she was upset just for my questions. I asked whether she could mail me the keys and she said they won’t pay for postage. I asked what about if I pre-paid an addressed envelope and she said that in case of lost mail I would be responsible. She said I’d need two checks (after a lot of math) saying that the deposit would be destroyed upon return of the keys, which is inconveniently at a drop box in Spring Creek. I was trying to make her smile and I didn’t succeed. This continues to prove the American obsession of private property and the retarded “no-trespassing” policy with draconian protective laws (in America you can be shot if you trespass property and there won’t be any trial or question asked if you get killed). God bless freedom.

Anyway, the plan for the day was very clear: go to Griswold lake and head west to the ridge that goes directly to Lee Peak, then traverse to Ruby Dome and Pyramid. Easy, right? When we got to Griswold lake at 8:20am (less than 2 hours from the car) we looked west and the route to Lee didn’t look that easy. It took a bit of talking before we agreed which way to go. After passing few ledges we got to fairly easy terrain that brought us to the base of a grassy gully heading to the ridge; the gully was initially easy but it shortly featured loose rocks and wild exposure. For the whole way up Lee I really thought we would have to turn back because I saw nothing but cliffs and the rock sections looked exposed class 5 on bad rock. We got to a point where I really thought we could not continue, but brave Ephrat suggested a way to bypass the difficulty that was worrying me at the moment. A couple of exposed moves brought us to the ridge, just to see a giant monolith in front of us. When I asked Ephrat how it was, she said she wasn’t sure we could continue and I really started to think the whole day was jeopardized. But when I got there I saw a corridor on the right side of the prominent crest that was no more difficult than class 2; I could not tell whether it would go all the way around, but it turned out it did. After only few minutes we were past any difficulty and the way to the top was just a very easy stroll. What an adventure! I don’t think many people reach Lee Peak from the north ridge… Actually, the summit register proves that not many people reach Lee Peak at all. We knew the rocky section could be tricky and for that reason we even brought rock shoes, but in the end we managed to do the entire thing in trail runners. It was about 10am when we were having a snack at the pretty summit, making the peak a 3 ½ hour effort.

From Lee Peak to Ruby Dome there are no difficulties and it’s just a matter of raw power. While at the notch between Lee and Ruby we checked the steep snow and we were glad we didn’t go up that way (that’s a possible route suggested in the DPS to reach the summit of Ruby Dome). Our way was probably more difficult, but I rather deal with rock than snow.

Given the vicinity of Lee Peak to the notch and given the popularity of Ruby Dome, I was surprised by how few people take the extra half hour to bag Lee, which offers pretty good views of all the surrounding peaks including the big Dome.

Shortly after 11 we were standing atop Ruby Dome and before noon we would be on Ruby Pyramid. This entire ridge was easy and there is nothing to report about it.

For the whole day, we were trying to identify Mount Gilbert, which we climbed months before; from the summit of Pyramid there was a clear view of Gilbert and Silliman and the traverse to Silliman, although not easy looking, was definitely short. I told Ephrat we had the option of bagging Silliman that day, since we were not tired and it wasn’t late, but we both agreed to get an early return and relax during the afternoon rather than doing another epic. We were back at the car before 4pm, making this a very nice outing with the highlight of the day being the south ridge of Lee.

Stats: 14.1 miles, 9h20, 6200 feet elevation gain.

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