Sawtooth Peak (S)
January 15, 2021
9 miles, +2,500’
Shannon and I were making our way back from a week in Las Vegas and decided to stop in the Southern Sierra for a few days to take advantage of the low (thus far) snow year and camp and climb some peaks in the area. Our first day involved a drive from Las Vegas, so we didn’t have time to try anything too aggressive. Additionally, winter road closures meant most of the peaks in the Domelands or north of Sherman Pass Road were a bit out of reach for a half day hike. Fortunately, Sherman Pass Road was open from the Owens Valley up to Kennedy Meadows, and Chimney Basin Road was open south of there, so we could access the Owens Peak Wilderness from all sides, including the SPS peaks along and near the Sierra Crest there: Owens Peak, Spanish Needle, Lamont Peak, and Sawtooth Peak (S).
Given the late start after our drive, we chose the relatively easy Sawtooth Peak (S) as our objective for the day and figured we’d follow our inspiration for the next day.
We hit the trail just before 1PM, heading south on the PCT from where it crosses Chimney Basin Road. After an enjoyable 3 miles, we reached the Sierra Crest at the head of Sand Canyon and headed north cross country for the summit of Sawtooth Peak. There were occasional use trails here and there, but about half of the travel was true cross country through somewhat brushy terrain. As we climbed above ~6,800’ we lost the use trail entirely and wandered upwards, searching for channels through the bushes.
Before too long we found ourselves at the base of some summit rocks which we scrambled over to the summit. From here there was a nice view of Owens Peak to the south and the southernmost reaches of the High Sierra to the north, including Mount Langley and some of the surrounding peaks, the Kaweahs, and the southernmost portion of the Great Western Divide. Despite the early winter setting, there was little to no snow on even the highest peaks.
I looked through the summit register a little bit. Despite being placed in 1966 it still wasn’t full. I noticed a few familiar names including Bob Burd and Matthew Holliman from 2004. But other than that, there wasn’t anything too exciting. This peak doesn’t get much attention, it would seem.
It was cold and the wind was blowing, so we didn’t linger too long. We found the descent easier than the ascent, likely a combination of the moderate elevation, the slightly sandy slope, and the gravity assisting rather than resisting our tumble through the brush.
Back on the trail, we made our way back to the trailhead just before headlamps would have been necessary. Our weekday mid-winter visit left us with a quiet campsite along Canebrake Road all to ourselves.