Mt Sorell is well known as a tough nut. With the reputation of thick scrub, steep cliffs, and a long walking time, I was both excited and nervous to be heading there. I started driving at 3am and arrived at the start of the walk, south of Queenstown, by 7am. The walk commences on an old survey/quarry road that winds up to the Darwin Plateau. I was meeting my friend Shelly up there after she had spent the night near the area we start the 'walk proper'. To save time, I rode my mountain bike; and after navigating the cluster of roads that was woefully described in the Abels book, I met Shelly around 8am. We headed off shortly afterwards, leaving from a rocky knoll with a fine view across the Clark River Valley and to Mt Sorell (which rises around 1,000m above the valley floor).
Shelly had gotten some info on a 'decent' track most of the way, but as we weren't prepared to rely purely on hear-say, we took care to make a sensible decision into the scrub. Soon after descending from our start point we found one of the old survey lines that had been cut into the valley; straight as an arrow. We followed this for some time until it became inundated with scrub, and a bit of bashing was to be done. We came out into an open Buttongrass field close to the river, and found another survey line, running perpendicular to the previous. We followed this and soon enough it changed direction to head due west. The line took us to the river, and presented a suitable place to cross. The river was gorgeous, thick with tannin stains, and studded with small Huon Pines on the banks. Once on the other side the line wasn't obvious, so we bashed up until we made it into the open Buttongrass leading up the slopes of Sorell. Once again we found an old line, and followed that straight up. It took us to a forested section right at the base of the cliff lines, and with no other feasible looking option, we headed into the scrub. For the next hour, the was a lot of swearing, and a lot of frustration, as we faced the thickest and worst scrub either of us have ever encountered. We had to haul ourselves up near vertical slopes, clad in slippery moss and near impenetrable vegetation. Finally we arrived at the top of the ridge, and heaven oh my; "Cairns!".
Once we found those cairns and we were on the ridge-line heading for the summit, the next 1.5km to the top absolutely flew by! The cloud had never risen from the summit as we walked up, and we had some light rain here and there. We reached the summit, complete with a trig destroyed by the wind, after 5 hours and 20 minutes of walking. We took shelter from the wind in the lee side of some rocks and had lunch, hoping for a view. The view never came, and after 30 minutes of summit time we headed back. Once we were at the point were we first found cairns, we took care to try to find a better way down. And sure enough, we found a path! Literally 5 metres from our bash-route up too! In fact, our entire journey back to our start point on our rocky knoll was pretty much on cut track and only took 3 and a half hours.
When we arrived on the summit, both of us were firmly in the camp of "never doing Sorell again", but now I know of the track, I would do it again. I want to see the view and it is an impressive place, regardless.
|Shelly is ready for a big day.|
|There it is, the beast, Mt Sorell.|
|Shelly summing up our feelings!|
|A whirling pool in the Clark River.|
|"Tape!" was always a pleasant thing to hear. (Note the pink tape on the tree).|
|Just above the scrub of doom.|
|Beautiful and open, the ridge of Sorell is stunning.|
|Fine views to Macquarie Harbour.|
|There's the summit!|
|Pretty distinct trig point. That's the Roaring 40s' for ya!|
|A beautiful little White Lipped Whip Snake.|
|Soaking up as much sun as it could, but I don't think it was very warm...|