Mount Jefferson South at 11,941 feet can be a challenging peak. If you have perfect weather like I did, it is a walk in the park. Mt. Jefferson was my 7th Nevada County Highpoint in 7 days. My climbing partner Dean and myself started on October 2, 2004 and climbed Desatoya, followed by Bunker Hill, Diamond Peak, Ruby Dome, Wheeler Peak (only me, not Dean), and Grafton where Dean came up lame. But that is another story, suffice it to say that Dean turned for home and left me in the middle of Nevada to climb Mt. Jefferson South and Mt. Grant by myself.
Getting to the Mt. Jefferson trailhead is easy enough and the road takes you through the commercialized ghost town of Belmont. The road up Meadow Creek to Jefferson Summit is picturesque also. Jefferson Summit is not the summit of Mt. Jefferson, but a saddle that the road reaches south of Mt. Jefferson at elevation 8,771ft. The last 1.4 miles of this road requires a high clearance vehicle, so don’t be driving your wife’s Honda up this road. If you have 4WD you can then drive north from Jefferson Summit towards Mt. Jefferson South. I drove my 2WD vehicle about .5 mile north until I got to Scotty’s knoll and car camped there for the night. The last little climb onto this knoll was a challenge for my 2WD.
I got an early start in the morning and followed the road north directly at Mt. Jefferson South. Looking at Jefferson it looks like the horn on the right is the highpoint. It isn’t. The highpoint is the broad plateau beyond the horn. The road splits and the roads parallel each other on either side of a fence. Take either one because they both end at the Wilderness Boundary at about 9,700 feet. From here there is a climber’s trail that heads north but it soon fades out and you are walking through short brush following cairns. Scotty’s report said he just attacked the hill straight on, but I continued to follow the cairns. Sometimes the cairns were hard to see but I just continued in a straight line in the direction (northwest) that they were leading. Eventually I stumbled across a well used climber’s trail that headed back northeast and up to the top of the bluff at about 10,500 ft.
Cairns and a trail showed the way towards Jefferson. The trail passes on the left of a couple rock outcroppings and eventually you reach the broad plateau that is the summit. The wind picked up here and I measured it at 25-30 Mph. It was time to tie down my hat and put on my windbreaker and gloves.
From the summit the views were limitless. North Jefferson is actually quite a ways away so I didn’t go over and tag that one on this trip. I signed the register and tried to eat lunch before I decided it was too cold and windy. I headed down to get out of the wind. Downhill, in the area where the cairns and trail were hard to follow, I didn’t bother with finding the trail and just headed cross country straight towards the parallel roads.
I got back to my car 4.75 hours after I started. This is about 9 miles round trip and 3,300 feet of elevation gain. This was Nevada County Highpoint #16 for me. Tomorrow, Mt. Grant will be #17 and last Nevada County Highpoints.
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