Ascent of Sorrell Peak on 2021-07-18

Climber: David Sharg

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, July 18, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Sorrell Peak
    Elevation:7704 ft / 2348 m

Ascent Trip Report

Weldon and Sorrell Peaks

Total distance: 14.7 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,871 ft
Total time: 9 hours 26 minutes
Start time: 7:35am
Trailhead: Jawbone Canyon Road/Geringer Grade, pullout/parking lot about 25.3 miles from Highway 14.
Accomplishments by list: HPS #101 & #102

Difficulty of hike: 7 out of 10. I expected the heat to be an issue, but I got a nice surprise of rain in the morning and clouds most of the afternoon. The climb to Weldon was steep but not difficult as the first elevation gain of the day. The area around Sorrell was confusing with multiple trails not on any maps, but simply going cross country was a great solution.

Views during hike: 6 out of 10. From Weldon, there were good views of Sorrell, but not much else. From Sorrell, Kelso Valley 3500 ft below looked great. Besides that, the other prominent peak visible may have been Piute, but I'm not sure.

Ascent on the descent: too much to recount. Weldon alone is a top down hike, starting with 800 ft lost, then 800 ft to climb Weldon, then an 800 ft descent and an 800 ft climb to the trailhead. From there to get to Sorrell, there's a 300 ft climb to cross Jawbone Canyon Road, then the PCT undulates quite a bit between 6300 and 6700. Once going cross country to Sorrell, it's about 1000 ft of steady climbing and descent.

People seen during hike: none. First hike of 2021 with no one else seen the entire day.

Animals seen: 2 deer and a skunk within the first tenth of a mile from the trailhead. On the way back through this same area, 4 more deer were seen, though 2 might have been the same as before. Later on the PCT was a nice looking eagle. On the cross country climb to Sorrell, there was a rattlesnake hiding behind one of the downed trees. Had I stepped over this tree closer to where it was, it may have bit me.

I've been feeling like I've been falling behind in my Kern County peakbagging, so I wanted to get some more peaks in the area. I've been eyeing Weldon and Sorrell for a while. The only info I could find about Sorrell were 0.3 mile treks from right next to the summit. I had no interest in driving 3+ hours for a 15 minute hike, nor do I drive to multiple trailheads just for quick 15 minute outings. My rules for HPS summits is to park at 1 trailhead, hike, and then head home. Looking at the maps for Sorrell, I saw the PCT running parallel to the road to Sorrell, with about 400 ft of elevation change between them. The gradient didn't seem too bad, so I wondered if a cross country approach from the PCT was an option for Sorrell. I couldn't find a single such approach on Peakbagger or anywhere else, but from the picture of the area around Sorrell, I figured it was possible.

The other potential issue I encountered was the quality of the roads. I saw all sorts of different reports about Jawbone Canyon Road and the Geringer Grade, about them being difficult to drive, and possibly washed out. I didn't want to push my Honda Accord onto a road that requires an HCV, so I planned several options for this hike, including starting at the bottom of Geringer Grade, or driving all the way around, by Kelso Valley Road up to Piute Mountain Road to Claraville and back south. As it turns out, none of that was necessary. Both Jawbone Canyon Road and Geringer Grade were completely driveable in my Accord. I did have to drive slow, taking 1.5 hours from Highway 14 to the trailhead, but using lower gears on Geringer Grade made the climb totally doable. So with the current conditions of the road, I'd say any vehicle with a determined driver can reach the trailhead.

On top of all this, I was also concerned about the heat from hiking this area in July. My hope was to reach the summit of Weldon early enough in the morning before it got too hot so that I could climb the summit block. That didn't go as planned for different reasons. Most of the morning, it was actually raining. This was a nice break from the heat, but it did make the rocks of Weldon't summit block slippery, so I didn't get any higher than the first couple.

After the pretty straightforward trip to Weldon and back, I continued north on the PCT in the direction of Sorrell. Right after crossing Jawbone Canyon Road, Sorrell is immediately visible to the northeast, with a large valley inbetween. A hike to the north on the PCT is required before the climb to Sorrell can start with no elevation loss. I though this PCT section would be 1-2 miles, but it was closer to 3. Also, the map of the area I got was incorrect. It showed the PCT (or what I thought was the PCT) coming close to the 6800 contour before descending. But in reality, the PCT is further west, closer to Jawbone Canyon Road. To make matters worse, there were 3 or 4 other north-south running trails that weren't on any map. I have no idea where these went. Eventually I gave up trying to follow these, and headed cross country, directly uphill towards to road that leads to the actual trailhead. This was the right move, as this section of the forest is easy to traverse. I did no bushwacking at all the entire day, and vitrually any path up or downhill can be taken.

When I got to the actual trailhead for Sorrell, I took a more circuitous route up to the summit than the tracks I downloaded to my GPS. My path was longer but less steep. The summit block did require scrambling, but it wasn't as difficult as Weldon. While the register for Weldon was below the summit block, the one for Sorrell was right at the top.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
Ascent Part of Trip: Weldon & Sorrell

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Weldon Peak2021-07-18 
2Sorrell Peak2021-07-18 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by David Sharg
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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