OverviewLocated in Great Basin National Park, Bald Mountain is a fine peak that offers an outstanding (and probably the best) view of Wheeler Peak.
Infrequently climbed, the peak is an enjoyable and straightforward alternative for those chickening out on the more-challenging Wheeler Peak, which lies directly to the south. The peak, only 2 miles north of Wheeler Peak, is easily accessed from the saddle connecting the two mountains.
*You might also check out a fledgling outdoor site (www.backcountry-explorer.com), which provides access to trip reports, beta, photos and other stuff covering hiking, scrambling, climbing and canyoneering around Las Vegas. A new hiking and scrambling guidebook, Rambles & Scrambles: The Definitive Guide to Peakbagging Around Las Vegas, is now available.
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.
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 glacier, and a loop trail of the alpine lakes in the area.
The route is so simple that it does not even require its own route page.
Simply follow the well-signed trail from the Wheeler Peak trailhead up to the obvious saddle (approx. 11000 ft) due north of Wheeler. Once at the saddle, Bald Mountain will be the mountain to the north. While in the saddle, keep your eyes open for the bristlecone pines growing there and the huge number of deer that live in their thickets.
From the saddle, leave the trail and head north toward Bald Mountain. The grade is gentle, the terrain is never more than class 2, and it's only a mile or so to the summit.
The summit is marked by a small structure and a large windbreak built from rocks and boulders. Inside the windbreak, you will find a summit register.
Roundtrip is only about 6 miles, with around 1400 ft of gain.
Red TapeNo permits are required to park or to climb the mountain, however, I would inquire at the Visitor's Center about whether or not a permit is needed for those attempting the summit in winter.
When To ClimbThe mountain is most easily climbed from June-October when the roads are plowed and/or free of snow. During the snow months of winter and spring, the road is not plowed and climbers will need to start their climbs much lower (and farther away).
CampingThere are several excellent campgrounds in the park.
Wheeler Peak Campground, which is located at approximately 10,200 feet, provides convenient access to the majority of the park's trails and to the aforementioned trailhead to Wheeler Peak, etc. Of the 30 or so developed camp sites available at the Wheeler Peak Campground, most have either a stream running through or near them, a deer- and wildflower-filled meadow adjacent to them, and/or a spectacular view of Wheeler and Jeff Davis peaks from them. All sites have fire rings and picnic tables. They are available first-come first-served and a self-paid fee of $10 (cash or check) can be placed in a pay slot at the entrance to the campground.
Backcountry camping is limited to specific areas outside of the Wheeler Peak area and the park's esteemed bristlecone groves. Inquire at the visitor's center for a map outlining the specific areas that are off-limits to backcountry camping.
Mountain ConditionsCall the park's visitor's center at 775-234-7331 for current road and climbing conditions.
As always, start your ascent early to avoid inclement weather.