Jefferson Needle (aka the "Nameless Tower") is a striking feature right next to Wheeler Peak (NV)
in the Snake Range within Great Basin National Park
. At 12,630 ft, it commands a presence over the Wheeler Peak Cirque even with Wheeler Peaks immense East Face. When viewed from below or from a distance from the north, Jefferson Needle stands out distinctly. However, when viewed from Jeff Davis Peak
, Wheeler Peak, or the ridge connecting the two, Jefferson Needle's "needle" appearance is less distinct. Jefferson Needle technically isn't a true summit because it's prominence is around 170' and it's isolation is around 0.4 miles, but its distinctive needle like appearance makes up for this along with the difficulties achieving the summit.
In the Wheeler Peak Cirque looking up at Jefferson Needle and Wheeler Peak
Jefferson Needle as view from the trail to Wheeler
Route InfoThe easiest way to access Jefferson Needle is by the connecting ridge
between Wheeler Peak and Jeff Davis Peak. From the summit of Wheeler, it is about 0.5 miles of class 2+ hiking on talus with awesome views. The last 40ft or so to the summit of Jefferson Needle is the business! From just below the summit ridge, obvious difficulties lie ahead and the exposure is real. Scamper out on very loose rock on the narrow ridge passing two catwalks to the small summit. Test and restest every foothold and handhold because the rock is barely hanging on to the summit. This last section to the summit is Class 4 with decent exposure.
Exposure getting to the summit
Start of the difficulties (photo shows our group coming down from the summit)
Final few few to the summit
The summit of Jefferson Needle
The hard way. Harder routes to the summit do exist and the mainly originate from the Wheeler Peak Cirque and go up prominent Shenandoah Wall (prominent North headwall of Jefferson Needle). There is an established route on this wall going by the same name with a rating of III, 5.8, A2 with 8-12 pitches. The rock quality of the Snake Range, especially the Wheeler Peak area is pretty chossy but apparently the rock here (Quartzite) is better then the stuff on Wheeler Peak.
Climbing potential on the north side of Jefferson Needle..bring a helmet
Red TapeJeffferson Needle lies within Great Basin National Park, so special restrictions apply. Check out THIS LINK for up to date information about road closures and conditions. Also, please don't knock rocks of the the summit if you can help it! There might be climbers below!
CampingCamping can be done pretty much anywhere in the park. There are plenty of established campgrounds along the way up the Wheeler Peak Road with the Wheeler Peak Campground providing the best access to Jefferson Needle. Fees vary from $12-$15. Backcountry camping is allowed in certain areas. It is not allowed within 1/4 mile of special use areas such as the Bristlecone Pine Forests and the Wheeler Peak Day Use areas. Permits for backcountry camping are free. Also, no fires are allowed over 10,000ft in elevation. For more information about backcountry camping, please click THIS LINK
Hiking along the ridge to access Jefferson NeedleFrom Baker: Head out West on HWY 488 into Great Basin National Park. Follow the road right prior to the visitor center and follow it as it winds it way up steep slopes past a few campgrounds. It will eventually level off and a trailhead for Wheeler Peak will be on the left. One can park there and hike or you could go down to the Wheeler Peak campground/day use area and park there to begin your hike. The lower trailhead is best used if you are accessing Jefferson Needle from the Wheeler Peak Cirque or from Jeff Davis Peak. The higher trailhead is better used if accessing Jefferson Needle from Wheeler Peak
External LinksUtah's West Desert
An awesome book by James Garret that has a section of the book devoted to climbing in the Great Basin National Park and on the Jefferson Needle (he calls it the "Nameless Tower").
Great information about Great Basin National Park hiking opportunities and just general information about the park.
Great Basin National Park
National Park Service website about Great Basin National Park.
Jefferson Needle Weather Conditions
Current conditions Jefferson Needle as forecasted by NOAA.
MiscIf you have any more additional information or photos, please contact me or add them to this page. Thank you!