OverviewLocated within Great Basin National Park in east central Nevada, at 12,305 feet, Baker Peak is the 4th highest peak in Nevada. The mountain, part of the Snake Range, a spectacular range of beautifully forested canyons, rugged glacial cirques and high desert peaks, lies about a mile south of the much more famous, Wheeler Peak. Although Baker's west summit, at 12,298 feet, lies directly along the north-south trending crest of the range, the mountain's higher east peak (12,305ft) lies a 1/2 mile or so east of the crest.
Because most of those visiting the obscure and out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Great Basin National Park come to check out Lehman Caves, hike up Wheeler Peak, see the impressive groves of ancient bristlecone pines or to ponder the glacier-or-not-a-glacier issue of the Wheeler Glacier nestled in the Wheeler-Jeff Davis cirque, Baker Peak is rarely visited.
As is typical with any of the high peaks of the Great Basin desert, the summit views are enormous and pleasing. Additionally, from Baker Peak's summit you get an interesting and seldom seen view of both Wheeler Peak and Jeff Davis Peak to the north.
Although most routes up Baker Peak are considered long for a Great Basin Peak, the mountain offers a variety of routes ranging from class 2 scrambles to class 5 rock climbing as well as some snow couloirs and alpine ice as well.
The 1000+ feet north face of Baker Peak isn't as large as the face on Wheeler Peak, but it is still one of the highest alpine faces in the Great Basin.
Getting ThereGreat Basin National Park is located approximately 50 miles east of Ely, Nevada, a few miles west of Baker, Nevada, and not far from highway 50 and the Utah border in east central Nevada.
Baker Creek Trailhead
From the town of Baker, drive west towards Lehman Caves and the visitor center. After about 5.6 miles (not exact), turn left or south towards the Baker Lake Campground. After about five miles or so you will reach the end of the road which is the trailhead.
Wheeler Peak Trailhead
The mountain is easily accessed just inside the park boundary via a paved road with obvious signage leading visitors to the upper campgrounds of the park. Follow the road for 12 miles or so to the parking lot just before Wheeler Peak Campground and park. Across the street from the parking lot is the trailhead for Wheeler Peak, the Wheeler Glacier, and a loop trail of the alpine lakes in the area.
West Face Trailhead
Drive to Spring Valley on the west side of the Snake Range. Make your way to the Minerva Highway which runs between Minerva and Majors Place. Just south of mile marker 9 and directly across from the Kerr Ranch turn east. This is a 4wd road so drive as far as you can. The road eventually reaches a T intersection at a ditch known as the West Ditch. Turn south and drive a short distance before turning east again. The road dead ends at the Hub Basin Mine which is the trailhead.
Routes OverviewThere are many possible routes on the mountain ranging in difficulty from Class 2 to Class 5. The main routes are outlines below.
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South Face from Baker Lake
This is the standard route on the mountain. There is a trail to Baker Lake and then it is a class 2 scramble. The route is 15 miles round trip with 4400 feet elevation gain. The route is fairly easy, but with scrambling over talus. The route can be done in one long day or two easy days.
This is the rugged ridge that forms the headwall of Baker Lake. It is longer and more challenging than the South Face Route. Opinions vary from it being one of the best scrambles in the park to a bit tedious. Most people do this route in two days, camping somewhere near Baker Lake.
There are no non-technical routes on the North Face. The best routes go up one of the two prominent couloirs on the face and between the two summits. This can be done on snow and/or ice. There is potential for other routes, but the face is loose and brecciated. The route is similar in distance and elevation gain to the South Face route, but is much more difficult, so two days is required.
This is not the recommended route in summer, but is a good winter and spring route. Access is usually easy in winter and spring. Avalanche danger is usually low if you stay on route.
This route has about 4800 feet elevation gain (if you can drive to the Hub Basin Mine) over a distance of less than three miles. There are no trails, but the windblown ridges make good winter and spring routes. If you can't drive to the Hub Basin Mine, add 8 miles round trip and plan on a very long day (you could also camp near the mine).
North Ridge via Wheeler Peak
This is the second most popular route to the summit of the mountain and simply follows the ridge south from Wheeler Peak to Baker Peak. The route provides a good view of the North Face of Baker Peak and is class 2 in difficulty.
Red TapeNo permits are needed for day climbing, but a permit is needed for overnight backpacking.
When to ClimbFor the South Face and Baker Ridge routes, late June through early October is the normal climbing season. In winter the road is not plowed so you will have to walk an extra 10 miles or so round trip.
For the North Face routes, May and June usually have the best snow conditions. By September, the climbing will be on all ice and will have more rockfall.
The normal season for the ridge traverse from Wheeler Peak would be late June until early October or so. The road is not plowed to the trailhead and climbing both Baker Peak and Wheeler Peak on the same trip in winter would be a real mini-expedition.
The West Face route is the easiest and fastest way to climb Baker Peak in winter and spring. In summer, the lower parts of the route will be hot (the route is steep as well).
There are several excellent campgrounds in the park.
Baker Creek Campground is near the trailhead for Baker Peak and is open May to October. The elevation is 7530 feet. Cost is $12 as of 2014.
Wheeler Peak campground is located at the Wheeler Peak Trailhead and is at 9886 feet elevation. Cost is $12 as of 2014. It is open June to October.
Lower Lehman Creek Campground is open mid-April to October and is at 7300 feet elevation. Cost is $12 as of 2014.
Upper Lehman Creek Campground is open year round and is at 7752 feet elevation. Cost is $12 as of 2014.
Backcountry camping requires a permit. There are many campsites along Baker Creek enroute to Baker Lake. There are also many campsites (which are very secluded) along the North Fork of Baker Creek and near the base of the North Face of Baker Peak.
Mountain ConditionsCall the park's visitor's center at 775-234-7331 for current road and climbing conditions.
CLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary for the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center. The data is from 1948-2013. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be much wetter and colder. The Visitor Center is at 6830 feet elevation, so expect the temperatures on the higher elevations of Baker Peak to be 15-25 degrees colder than at the Visitor Center.
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