*Please Read & Heed
Comments from Great Basin NP regarding this route:
"Unless it is winter and there is snow covering the ground, people need to stay on trail in the Bristlecone grove at the base of Wheeler Peak/Jeff Davis Peak.
This is an issue between Memorial Day and the end of September because of several reasons:
1. We tell people they need to stay on trail in the Bristlecone area because the high visitation is causing soil erosion.
2. Soil erosion kills the Bristlecone trees by exposing their roots.
3. One person seen leaving the trail encourages others to do the same thing.
4. Photo monitoring has documented considerable changes and some of the old trees are dead due to exposure of their roots caused by people leaving the trail."
Please help preserve these noble, ancient trees by heeding the park's recommendation and only using this approach when there is complete snow coverage in this area.
From the Wheeler Peak trailhead, follow signs to the glacier. Before reaching the toe of the glacier, you will pass through a grove of bristlecone pines with many interpretive signs. Take a few minutes, enjoy the grove, and learn about the ancient trees. Once past the end of the grove, rather than take the looping trail back toward where you came, continue on the left fork of the trail toward the glacier. Perhaps 50 yards later, leave the trail and start hiking cross country toward the mountain's north slope, which is obvious and across the moraine to the east.
Once you gain the north slope, work your way up the fairly stable talus and occasional loose and crappy scree toward the upper reaches of the mountain. There are limitless variations along the way, but just keep going up and stick to whatever terrain you feel most comfortable on. Generally speaking, you will find more class 3 terrain as you approach the ridgeline above the cirque and more class 2 if you stick to the north slope itself.
The route-finding is fairly simple: just take the path of least resistance to the top. Getting lost would be hard.
To descend, either brave the fairly stable talus and crappy, loose scree already mentioned and retrace your steps down or follow the directions for the Wheeler Peak traverse route.
For the there-and-back route mentioned above, expect about 7 miles roundtrip and about 2500 or so feet of gain, trailhead to trailhead.
In the summer months, hiking boots and water should generally suffice. In winter and spring, crampons and axe are needed.