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Ellen D Mountain - 8633 Feet

Location: 41.78527°N, 114.84019°W

Date: 01/10/2008
Distance: 7.1 miles
Elevation gain: 2400' for just Ellen D, additional 300' for Tabletop Mountain
Class (difficulty): 2
Time: 6 hours
Range: Jarbidge
Prominence: 2079' Partner(s): Zach

In my annual search for winter peaks, I found a peak near Jackpot, Nevada that was suitable for Christmas time when I was in Twin Falls. Not only was the peak near the highway, it had 2000+ feet of prominence. Unfortunately the Christmas season saw bad weather, so climbing the peak never worked out. Some guys from work were having a party in Jackpot, so I decide to meet them down there and climb the peak on the same trip.

The stormy weather cleared and I convinced Zach to accompany me. From the Highway 93, the peak would be 10 miles roundtrip. Google Earth showed some buildings along our route, so I thought that would either stop our trip because of private property or make it easier because of winter maintained roads.

When we arrived, the houses were occupied and the road was plowed. After about 1/2 a mile we were beyond the houses and just on a maintained road with signs and equipment hinting a mining going on in the area. We sooned spotted a guy driving a bulldozer and he told us it was ok to be on the road and that the area was public land.

We pulled off the plowed dirt road 2 miles from the highway. We could see our objective, Ellen D Mountain from the starting point. We immediately put on our snowshoes and started following a snowbound road. The winds were blowing a bit at the trailhead, but the temps were near freezing and the sun was out. The snow was not great for the first 1/2 mile or so. It was at this point that we took a cross-country route that we hoped would get us on a road that crossed the east ridge of Ellen D Mountain. We quickly found this road and followed it to a saddle at 7200'. The wind was now becoming a factor. The snow from here to the top was in bullet proof and fully supported our weight. As we gained elevation, the wind speed increased as well.

We took our first short break at around 7800' and hid near a rock outcropping to escape the wind. Here we hydrated and ate a bit, watching swirling snow coming off the peak and even hearing noises from some windmills on the summit.

We continued on the road from our break spot. The winds were strong, but my equipment held up well and other than being annoying, the wind was not affecting our progress. We summited after 3 hours of hiking and hid behind a building on the summit to warm up. Photos from the top were difficult in the roaring wind and cold. The views were spectacular, with views of the central mountains hundreds of miles to our north, with the ability to even pick out individual peaks, like Smoky Dome and Iron Mountain in the Sawtooths. In Nevada we could see the Jarbidge Mountains, the Ruby Mountains, and several other impressive ranges.

On the way down we decided that it was about as easy to do a loop and tag the top of Tabletop Mountain, which sat just above where we parked our vehicle. This side trip was actually very neat, as the terrain was interesting with lots of granite outcroppings and a bit of scrambling near the summit.

We descended to the truck to finish out a great day in the mountains.

Getting There:
Drive to Contact, NV which is 15 miles south of Jackpot on US 93. Turn left onto Elko Avenue and head west. We drove 2 miles up this route to 6300' in elevation.

Note that this road continued another mile or so beyond our parking spot and remained plowed. However, the mining operation appeared to be being moved down lower. In fact, about 200 yards from where we parked. They might not continue to plow the road beyond our parking spot. Be prepared to even have to hike this road from the end of the housing area, which is about 1/2 mile from the highway.


Ellen D Mountain from the start of our snowshoe trip.
Ellen D Mountain after 1.2 miles of hiking.
Zach snowshoeing on the snowbound road.
Our view of Ellen D as we intersect the east ridge.
Looking south from our first break location.
Snow drifting on a slope above us.
Zach nearing the summit.
The summit of Ellen D.
Looking northeast from the summit.
After our descent, a view of Ellen D's southside.
A photo of the top of Tabletop Mountain.
The view of Ellen D from Tabletop.
Our route on Ellen D. The red is our ascent route. Green is descent. Blue circle is the truck.

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