MEN OF TROY... PEAK
MT. STIRLING & JAYBIRD PEAK
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MEN OF TROY... PEAK
A group of four mountaineers, Harlan, Ali, Mike Ryan and I set out to climb Troy Peak. Troy is located in a very remote section of Nevada, about 200 miles north of Las Vegas off of NV 318. However, the only route-finding difficulty we had on the whole trip was locating Mike Ryan's house! We picked him up on the way, but wound up taking quite a detour on the way.
We did finally locate Mike, which was fortunate since he got celebrate his birthday by summitting Troy Peak! The drive up included almost 30 miles on dirt roads, mostly in very good condition. After scouting out a not-so-flat area at the trailhead, we opted to camp at flatter spot about a quarter mile back from the trailhead at 7300'. The area was completely deserted and quite scenic. After gourmet dinners and much socializing, we were all asleep by 9:30 or so.
The night was pleasant, but not cold (mid-60's maybe). Since we were many miles from anywhere, the stars were spectacularly bright, and the Milky Way was dazzling. By 5:30, we were all awake, and we were on the trail by 6:30. The "trail" consisted of an old abandoned road, which gradually faded into a path winding up the north fork of Scofield Canyon.
We passed one huge and striking Ponderosa pine along the way that we all got our picture taken with I think. When the path finally ended near Sidehill Spring, we headed straight up a steep open slope. The going was steep, but as I told Mike, "you can't gain 3700' in 2.7 miles without it being steep!"
Near the top of the slope we passed through a brief aspen forest. The rest of the way up the ridge was quite rocky in places, although nothing more than class 2. We finally summitted around 10:00 and took in the spectacular views. The west face of Troy is a dramatic cliff face of nearly 1000'. Past this cliff band, the terrain dropped off to Railroad Valley. In all directions there was mountain range after mountain range. We identified some of the peaks we saw, but there too many to count. We actually saw a few small snow pockets despite the dry previous winter.
Despite the remoteness of the peak, there was cell coverage, so some of us called home, Mike took a nap, and Harlan told the story of his previous attempt of Troy. Four years previous, Harlan had been on an LVMC trip in which they had attempted to climb along the high ridge making a loop hike of Troy, but had gotten on the wrong ridge. They actually missed Troy Peak, so Harlan was pleased to have actually summitted the high point of the Grant range. Looking in the summit register, there were amazingly few entries. There were several in 2006 including our own Nick Nelson (possibly his last of the 50 LVMC Classic Peaks?), but none since 2003 before that! Ali dedicated his climb to his grandson, who just had his first birthday.
We made the descent a little tougher than need be. After descending the same ridge for a short distance, for some reason, we decided to drop off the ridge into steep drainage to the north. The descent was steep and involved some class 3 at the beginning. The going was tedious as we had to be careful not to send rocks down onto our comrades. We all wound up separating a bit and chose our own path. Harlan and I even found a spring trickling water on our descent. We all rendezvoused in the drainage just above Sidehill Spring, where we had gone up the ridge.
From there, we just retraced our steps back to the waiting car. We arrived back to the car just before 2:00 and made the journey home, stopping in Alamo for dinner at a quite good restaurant (but unimpressive from the outside) on the left side of the road as you enter Alamo. They serve burgers and Mexican food.
We arrived back in Las Vegas to find Harlan's car still there. Again, this was an improvement over Harlan's last Troy trip, in which his car was stolen while he was gone!
Troy Peak is said to have been John Muir's favorite Nevada peak, and we all found it to be an enjoyable trip.
MT. STIRLING AND JAYBIRD PEAK
Jim Freeland and I started hiking about 8:15AM along road 552 which headed south in between two ridges. After a short distance the road faded and turned into a wash. There were some trails made though from horses in the area which helped some, but there was a lot of bushwhacking. As the wash ended, we gained a ridge which headed south up towards the main ridge leading to Mt. Stirling.
The ridge leading up to the main ridge was straightforward, but there was some more bushwhacking involved and trees to get through. There was a lot of evidence of horses in the area but we did not see any. Once we reached about 6950 feet you could make out Papoose Lake and Bald Mountain, about 13 miles north of Groom Lake and Area 51.
We then gained the summit ridge at about 7,820 feet. The views were great to the north, west, and southwest towards Pahrump and Death Valley. From here it was an easy hike along the main ridge to Stirling. After a short distance we noticed a different ridge that we could take for the return trip. This was right off the highpoint before the main summit. There was a little loss in elevation after this where we reached a saddle before the final stretch up to the summit. Not far past this saddle we ran into some very nice petroglyphs.
The summit provided great views north to Mercury and the Nevada Test Site. The entire Sheep Range was visible to the east as well as the Spring Mountains to the southeast all the way down to Mt. Charleston. To the southwest you could see Pahrump and Death Valley. Telescope Peak was barely visible through the haze.
The total distance to the summit was 2.42 miles with about 2220 feet of elevation gain. The summit register was cool looking as well. We were the first two to summit Mt. Stirling since August 2006. I didn't realize this peak was so rarely climbed.
The return hike was nice. We just had to hike up a little bit from the saddle to get onto the sub-peak where we then took the other ridge down. This ridge was easier, and we should have taken it up.
Halfway down the ridge we were rewarded with a view of a wild burro. With all the evidence of horses and burros in the area, there had to be lots more. We saw a family picnicking under a tree right where the vehicles came into view coming down the ridge. The total distance roundtrip was 4.65 miles. Next we tackled Jaybird Peak.
Jim and I drove back down Road 552 from Stirling back onto 553. We then drove down 553 and then took the left turn for 553C. After 0.1 miles we turned right at the T-intersection for 553A and continued for about 0.4 miles. We finally found a spot to park without blocking the road to start for Jaybird. We finally found one about 0.18 miles SE of a rocky outcrop we could see on the ridge straight south of the steep cliff on the southwest side of Jaybird.
It started off as a pleasant ridge hike. After a rocky outcrop, we had about ½ mile of scree to hike up. This was painful. You could make switchbacks to make it easier. There were some class 3 sections as well. I had to use my hands and crawl in an offensive lineman’s stance several times because it was so steep. Near the top of the ridge below the cliffs we found a gully to take up and then we were just below the summit. It was 0.76 miles to the summit with about 980 feet of elevation gain.
We noticed the “Jaybird” Benchmark after we got onto the summit. This peak is not listed on the majority of maps and topographical software programs. There were some other USGS markers on the summit as well. I placed a summit log up there just next to the main USGS marker under some rocks.
Great views from Jaybird can be enjoyed. To the
southeast are Wheeler Peak, Willow Peak and the Spring Mountains which
you can see all the way up to Mt. Charleston and Lee Peak. To the south
is Mt. Stirling. The north provided good views of the Mercury military
site at the edge of the Nevada Test Range. The Sheep Range looked great
to the east as well.
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