Jeff Davis Peak, which is located in Great Basin National Park, is the third highest peak in Nevada. Overshadowed by its neighbor, the slighter higher Wheeler Peak, which, unlike Jeff Davis Peak, has a class 1 route to the summit, the mountain is seldom climbed.
There are several routes of varying degrees of difficulty one can take to climb the mountain. The routes range from class 2/3 scrambles on the north, east and south sides of the mountain to technical climbs in the loose and generally icy couloirs or on the rock faces of the cirque that connects the mountain with Wheeler Peak to the west.
Mostly buried under a huge pile of rock debris at the base of the cirque between Jeff Davis Peak and Wheeler Peak is Nevada's only glacier. While some argue that the glacier, which does not have any visible crevasses, is merely a permanent snowfield, in early season it makes a nice spot to practice glacier travel, glissading, and whatnot on the gentle slopes of the ice.
Great Basin National Park is located 69 miles from 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.
No 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 Climb
The 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).
There are several excellent campgrounds in the park. Wheeler Peak Campground, which is located at approximately 10,000 feet, provides convenient access to the majority of the park's trails and to the aforementioned trailhead to Wheeler Peak, etc.
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.
Call 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.
Lehman Caves is a beautiful limestone cave system in Great Basin National Park that makes for a nice side trip before or after climbing Jeff Davis or Wheeler peaks or while waiting out inclement weather. The cave features many amazing stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstones, and popcorn formations and is well worth the tour. Fees are reasonable (click here). The caves are located at the eastern foot of Jeff Davis Peak (click here). Info supplied by Klenke.