Elko County High Point Trip Report

Ruby Dome (11,387 ft)

Date: September 28, 2001
Author: Mike Coltrin

The most common way to approach Ruby Dome is up Hennen Canyon. It is a long hike and involves 5400 feet of elevation gain and about fifteen miles round trip. Five hundred feet of elevation and three miles of walking can be shaved off the hike by securing a key to the Spring Creek Association Campground. It is possible to obtain the key (for a fee) from the Spring Creek Property Owners Association, 451 Spring Creek Parkway, Elko NV 89801, or by calling the office, (702) 753-6295, Mon. - Fri. 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Finding the trailhead: From Elko drive 17.2 miles southeast on route 227 toward Lamoille to Pleasant Valley Road. Turn south and drive 3 miles on a high-speed dirt road to the locked gate of the campground. If you picked up a key you can drive one and a half more miles to the trailhead. Otherwise, walk from the gate. I arrived in the area late the night before. I figured it was prudent to do the extra walking rather than delay my start in order to get a key for the gate.

I began hiking at 7:15 am. It took a half hour to hike the road from the gate to the trailhead at the upper end of the campground. The trail mostly follows the east side of the creek. At times it climbs out of the drainage fifty or sixty feet. Occasionally the trail meanders in the creek bottom and can become hard to follow on account of cow activity. When this happens remember the left hand rule. You will eventually find the trail on the left (east) side of the creek. The early stretches of the trail are pleasant enough and you can make good time. After three or four miles the route climbs some rock benches and tread becomes less evident. Keep an eye out for cairns and it is a simple matter to keep on route all the way to Griswold Lake at 9220.

Pass the lake on the east side then climb southeast to a saddle at 10,140 feet. (This saddle is on the ridge between Hennen Canyon and the west arm of Seitz Canyon.) Don't worry about getting off route, if you keep your head about you there are any number of ways to bushwhack to this saddle. Dave Jurasevich's Desert Peaks Section guidebook says to hike around the left side of a 10,425 foot ridge-line bump and climb southwest up a large, easy ramp to the cirque northwest of the peak. I found this description deceptive. As you go past the ridge-line bump, be on the lookout for a string of cairns climbing out of the right side of the gully you are probably in. Once out of the gully, cross about one hundred and fifty feet of fairly flat ground and enter a gully system climbing right to left. (If you have the DPS book, this gully is west of the marked route and comes before the split of the routes shown on the map.) After following this gully up for a few hundred feet be on the lookout for a route with cairns climbing out the right side of this gully before you reach its head.

Once you are out of the gully you will probably notice a couple of important things: (1) You want no part of the rock chutes leading to the ridge west of the summit and (2) there is a prominent cairn on the skyline west of the chutes. This is what I aimed for. The route went back and forth on ledges and required hands for balance now and then but was not technically challenging. Once the ridge is attained it is a simple walk up the last three or four hundred feet to the summit.

The climb took me six hours and fifteen minutes including all rest stops and lunch. I spent 20 minutes on the summit. The return hike took me just short of four hours. I was bushed.