Traverse from Wheeler Peak

Traverse from Wheeler Peak

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.97030°N / 114.3161°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


Follow the directions on the main page to the Wheeler Peak trailhead.

Route Description

From the Wheeler Peak trailhead, follow obvious signage to Wheeler Peak (approx. 4 miles and 2900 ft of gain). From the summit of Wheeler Peak, Baker Peak is directly to the south and impossible to miss.

Walk westward a short distance along the summit ridge until you see the obvious slope of the south ridge leaving the summit ridge and heading down toward a saddle at about 12,000 feet between Wheeler and Baker. Start down along the south ridge.

While traversing the ridge, although at times it involves many ups and downs, staying near the crest of the ridge is much more pleasant than dropping down onto seemingly easier terrain (stable, but tedious, talus) on the west side of the ridge. If uncomfortable with the occasional class 3 terrain encountered along the ridge crest, merely drop slightly to the west, trying to stay near the crest, and look for easier terrain.

Once at the saddle between Wheeler and Baker, continue working your way over class 2 (and occasional, but easily avoided, class 3) talus, looking for paths of least resistance as you head up toward Baker's lower west peak. While traversing along the ridge, be sure to look down into the many ice couloirs you will be passing to the east.

Once you reach the base of the west peak, either scramble up the remaining 100 feet or so to the summit, or traverse around in an easterly direction and head straight toward the saddle separating the west from the east peak. The last 1/2 mile or so from the west to east peak is more of the same - easy, but tedious, class 2 talus.

To descend, retrace your steps back to Wheeler Peak and then follow the obvious trail back down to the trailhead.

** While traveling to Baker from Wheeler (or vice versa), so long as you stay on or near the ridge crest, it would require considerable effort to get lost.
*** As tempting as it may be, when initially approaching the 12,000 foot level (same level as the saddle between Wheeler and Baker) on Wheeler's north slope resist the urge to save yourself the extra loss and gain by traversing directly to the south along Wheeler's west side. The traverse is slightly tricky and substantially tedious as you move across a few steep talus (and sometimes, ice) chutes. Assuming you didn't bother with crampons and/or ice axe, which you normally wouldn't need for a summer ascent of Baker Peak, you might get a rude awakening. The shadowy, steep chutes encountered while traversing the west side of Wheeler Peak often hold ice late into the summer and could be treacherous if inadequately prepared. In my opinion, don't bother with the extra equipment in summer... despite the extra gain and loss, just stick with the safer and easier sure thing.)

For this route, expect about 12 miles (roundtrip) and 4500 feet of gain (with some loss thrown in in both directions on the traverse).

Essential Gear

Hiking boots and water should be sufficient during the summer months.
Ice axe and crampons are necessary in winter and spring.
As always, a topo map never hurts.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.


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