Rubies Day 4
6 September 2011
When I look at the map of Nevada, I’m always impressed by the amount of big prominences that I’ve never heard of. I was somehow familiar with Pilot Peak and this was my chance to climb it.
Pilot is frequently climbed because it’s an ultra prominence, more than 5000 feet. It borders with Utah and all I knew about it was that the climb involved a lot of talus and boulder hopping, which is still far better than scree
We chose the classic approach from Miners Canyon. We knew that Miners Canyon road was a 4.5-mile 4wd Corolla-impassable road and we knew that walking that road would suck… and it did.
Leppy pass road, which starts in Utah, is nice and paved while in Utah and becomes an annoying high-clearance dusty road in Nevada.
I remember telling Ephrat that if the 4wd road wasn’t “too bad” we could attempt to drive it for a mile or so, but the big rocks that welcomed us at the very start suggested that 4.5 miles of road hiking were probably worth saving in car repairs.
It was little after 7am when we parked and we started preparing lunch and filling up water. After turning on the GPS, Ephrat asked what was our current elevation. I somehow thought the hike started at 6000~ish foot, but that wasn’t the case: we were at 4400 feet. With the peak being higher than 10700, we had a hard day in front of us!
Hiking the 4wd road proved not to be too bad and we reached the end of it at 9:05am. Note: the “real” trailhead is at 6160 feet, meaning that after 1 ½ hours and almost 2000 feet of elevation gain we were at a point where any 4wd could have brought us. Argh!
I had a topo map printed from a trip report and there is not really a strandard route to the summit; from the end of the road we headed north on talus, then started to head north-east leaving the big outcroppings to our right. The route was far better than described and rocks were solid.
We reached the main ridge at 11:20; our elevation was more than 9000 feet at that point. From the ridge, heading north and then northeast to the summit was just a matter of time, nothing difficult. The only mistake not to be made is to continue on top of the ridge, because of some big outcrops; when the ridge “bends” east to the summit of pilot, just traverse and then face-climb to the summit.
We reached the summit at 12:30, 5 hours from the car including the “4wd hike”. We were satisfied with the result.
The summit register is a mailbox (a real one) and the thick log book inside had plenty of signatures, far more than any other peaks we climbed during this short vacation.
Needless to say the views from the top of Pilot are incredible, spanning from the Rubys southwest to Salt Lake east. It’s strange to be so unfamiliar with the peaks nearby; when we go out to the Sierras we can name many peaks, but from the summit of Pilot we had almost no clue what was surrounding us. We saw many interesting looking peaks and I hope to be out there some day bagging them. Ephrat asked me where “Leppy pass” was, because we could not even figure that out. Either way, Leppy pass seems to be very shallow and I would barely classify it as a pass.
The way down was uneventful and kind of slow, since we took a “shortcut” that featured poorer rock than the way us. We essentially walked the gully east of the outcrops instead of the one on the west.
To our surpise, we managed to avoid most of the vegetation on the way back following a dry stream that brought us back to the road (the road also follows a stream before it ends, but the stream features a Y fork and we came down the right side).
A threating thundertorm with lightnings was all around the summit of Pilot when we reached the road; the best thing we could think was to start running, so we covered the last couple of miles in record time.
We were back at the car at 4.50pm, making the outing slightly longer than 9 hours.
Stats: 13.4 miles, 9h22, 6350 feet elevation gain
Once at the car, I proposed Ephrat to take a shortcut that would have brought us to Pilot Peak Road, but we needed groceries and we opted to go back to west Wendover to the only supermarket we found there (ugly and overpriced).
Now that I look at the topo map I’m sure my shortcut would have saved us time, but we were not sure about the road quality. Maybe it’s best we went back the way we did.
Walking 4wd roads would be over for the remainder of the trip; the next few days we would be in Lemoille Canyon and vicinity, making the drive short and nice.
We agreed to climb Verdi Peak the following day; we both thought that “terraces” was a campground (I’m sure at some point it was…) but it turns out to be dayuse-only area. Puzzled, we drove south to Thomas campground and paid the stiff fare (18 bucks a night). This would be our home for the next 2 days.