Hayford Peak, Mount Stirling
By: Paul Nelson
For the first time in this leader's. experience, women climbers outnumbered the men on a DPS trip. In view of the "Woman's Lib" movement, I really did not know whether to be honored or get all shook. But I managed to keep my cool, and we started for the roadhead for Hayford. This road has recently been blocked off at the edge of the mountains by the U.S. Wildlife Services. Because of this the climb was longer than the schedule had advertised. After 7 miles, 4000 feet, and 5 hours, our group of 7 made the summit with the ladies doing just as well or better than the men. We left the summit at 2:00 and were back to the cars at 6:00. The highlight of the day was the sighting at close range of a herd of bighorn sheep, one ran, six ewes, and four young lambs. Because of a little car trouble, it was almost dark by the time we got back to the meeting place. We decided to camp near there rather than trying to find the Stirling roadhead. A good thing too, as even in daylight we had trouble finding the best road.
The Sheep Range is a very beautiful desert mountain area and is still almost a wilderness area. The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to keep motor vehicles out and does not even allow overnight backpacking. It has been proposed as a wilderness area and as such, back country campsites and springs would be developed and overnight hiking allowed. I believe that we should support this, as the range would then be accessible to hikers and not to the noisy motorcycles that disturb so much of the desert. I encourage all DPS members to visit this area (Ed note: Fat chance of that). It is no further a drive than one to Mammoth and certainly not as crowded.
Sunday's climb of Stirling was longer than necessary because of road finding problems. We finally got started about 9 and after 3-1/2 hours and 3000 feet we arrived at the summit. The weather was cool and clear and there was a fine view of the peaks in the Death Valley area. This too is a beautiful area although not as green or wooded as the Sheep Range. We were down from the peak and back at the main highway by 4. I would advise anyone leading this climb in the future to scout the roadhead, as the topo is not much help. The roads have changed some since it was made. We could have driven a mile closer and 500 feet higher. The road to Hayford is easy to find by map or directions can be obtained at Corn Creek, but a topo is a must for the climb itself. I can best express my feelings about these peaks by saying that I would be glad to climb them again anytime in the proper season.
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