Storey County High Point Trip Report

Mount Davidson (7,864 ft)

Date: October 9, 2000
Author: Adam Helman

Mount Davidson lies on the western side of downtown Virginia City. It is the most plainly visible landmark from that town, a town which has maintained a nineteenth century mining town atmosphere with plenty of places to purchase memorabilia.

From Reno one heads southeast on Nevada route 341 up the Geiger Grade - a 6,800 ft pass that eventually drops down to Virginia City at 6,200 ft elevation. I had come from the opposite direction, the south, seeing as I had visited the Nye County HP on the previous day. Please do not confuse route 431 with route 341: route 431 is quite close to Reno as well.

Although there is the Ophir Grade which may take you by vehicle to nearly the summit itself (cf other reports by Andy Martin, Ken Jones, Bill Jacobs and Scott Surgent), I found it far more efficient, albeit it more energy-demanding, to simply hike up the eastern face of the mountain directly from downtown Virginia City.

One may either start from the main road in town, C Street, or park a few blocks further west and begin climbing from the very edge of town. I chose the latter route. In my particular case I headed up the roughly 30 degree slope past a pair of water tanks, thence past the enormous "V" landmark that is plainly visible from town. I carefully avoided walking right on the landmark, lest some authority in town spot me and try to thwart the attempt (although I am unaware if it is illegal in any matter - there were neither gates nor no-trespassing signs).

The 1,500 vertical feet from the edge of town was completed in one hour and, upon topping out, was greeted by a wonderful view northwest towards Reno and the High Sierra in the far west and southwest. The weather was perhaps 35-40 degrees with winds gusting to 30 MPH. However it was sunny and I only marginally required cold weather clothing.

I enjoyed watching and hearing a coal-fired locomotive as it carried tourists around the town's outskirts. Church bells rang from the town to mark the time, and this, together with the beautiful view of Virginia City but one-half mile diagonally downward, made for a unique summit experience.

I also successfully used a cell phone for the first time from a summit, having received it as a gift but earlier that week (it did not work on the summits of Mt Grant (Mineral County, NV) or Mt Jefferson south (Nye County, NV) the previous two days owing to their remote locations).

After a chocolate bar with dried pear and walnuts I descended uneventfully, taking but 40 minutes to reach my rented car. During the descent, noting that I had already visited the highpoint, I felt no need to avoid the landmark "V" and, passing by it, noted it to be ringed by tiny lights for the holiday season. I later learned in a gem shop that the "V" lights up at that time for all to admire.

I spent the afternoon enjoying much ice cream while purchasing fudge and chocolate truffles at one of the local speciality shops. I also acquired a 1-oz silver bullion bar from a local mint to commemorate my visit with something more durable than an apricot brandy truffle.

I highly recommend avoiding the Ophir Grade and just "gutting it out" by climbing up the east face by whatever route appears acceptable when you arrive. It takes less time and, having actually hiked from the same point in town you can gaze at from the summit but a short while later, is certainly more personally rewarding than driving up a road in need of repair.