Mt. Langley via Cottonwood Lakes and Old Army Pass

#1
With winter fast approaching in the Sierras I knew my time to get up into the high country was running out. Since I have a bunch of other commitments later in the month this past weekend was the only time I could eek out to escape to the mountains. I reserved my wilderness permit last week and then took off from work early on Friday so I cold make it to the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center to pick up said permit before they closed at 17:00. Made it there just in the nick of time (16:30) due to not getting out of work until an hour after I had expected to leave and traffic coming out of LA.



Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine

Permit in hand I headed up from Lone Pine to the Cottonwood Lakes trail head on Horseshoe Meadows Road. Arrived about 5:30, with light fading I set up my tent and proceeded to eat dinner. Although I was solo on this trip I've found you can always find someone at hiker campsites to sit around and BS with around the campfire. This was no exception. A couple of hikers from SF were in an adjacent site and were planning on day hiking Mount Langley the following morning. We hung out and BS'd for a while till we decided it was time to turn in around 23:00. I woke up the next morning around 5:30 and proceeded to break down my tent and re-pack all my gear including the requisite bear canister for food storage. Around 7:00 I set off for my base camp for the next day at Cottonwood Lake #5. You start out in Golden Trout Wilderness but a few miles later you cross into John Muir Wilderness.



The first 5 miles or so are relatively flat with minimal elevation gain while going through some densely wooded areas with a few meadows thrown in here and there. Once you come out of the woods though, you are greeted by wide open meadows, lakes and high sierra granite







Mount Langley front and center, reflected in a small tarn.

From there I proceeded through a couple of meadows and small stands of timber and several other lakes until I came to Lake #5. I found a sheltered spot to pitch my tent since the weather forecast called for winds later in the evening. With my tent pitched and my pack lightened of all unnecessary gear and food I proceeded around the end of Lake #4 and headed up Old Army Pass. OAP can be treacherous at times due to ice and snow in a few spots that don't normally melt. The NFS and NPS recommend that people hiking to Langley take New Army Pass due to this fact. But since this was one of the driest years on record there was no ice or snow at all on OAP so that was the route I took up.



Looking down from Old Army Pass with Cottonwood Lake #4 in the center and #5 to the left.



Once at the top of OAP you enter Sequoia National Park.

From there it's all uphill. OAP is at about 12K feet, and the summit of Langley is at 14K. About halfway from OAP the National Park Service decided to cut down on the number of random use trails that go up and down Langley by putting up large cairns to mark the "official" route up. When I say large I mean HUGE, about 8-10' tall.. This works well, until after you make a small scramble up and see the cairns going up the hill. From that point up it's a bunch of random use trails among the sand and scree from cairn to cairn. Finally you get to the top and you are greeted with one hell of a view.



Looking north east from the summit of Mount Langley across the Miter Basin with Sky Blue Lake, Iridescent Lake, and the highest point in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney.



Zoomed in shot of Mt. Whitney, with the summit hut visible at the top



Benchmark

The hike up to the top had taken a bit longer than I had anticipated - unless you have a few days to spend acclimating elevation will kick your ***. So after spending about a half hour at the top gawking and taking tons of pics I put on my windbreaker and headed down the mountain the way I came and headed back to camp. I arrived at my campsite right at 18:30 when it was getting dark. The wind had picked up and was getting pretty cold. I huddled in the break that I had pitched my tent and and made ramen and oatmeal for dinner before layering up and hopping in my tent and read a book until I started nodding off. I had originally planned on taking some nice star shots, but it was too dam cold and windy. IIRC it got down to the lower 20's that night. I woke up at 7:00 the next morning to a change in wind direction and building clouds.



Looking west from the eastern shore of Cottonwood Lake #5 towards Mount Langley and Old Army Pass

The weather forecast had said there was high chance of snow after 11:00 so I got my stuff packed up and hit the trail back to the truck at 8:30. Turns out the forecast had obviously changed and about 20 min into my hike it started to snow, light at first then gathering in intensity.



Hiking in the falling snow was great. The silence in the woods was amazing, the only sounds being the occasional bird and some random thunder. I made it to the border of Golden Trout Wilderness and to my truck for the 4 hour schlep back to LA.





Link to a map and gps track of my hike for anyone interested: http://caltopo.com/m/745M
 
#2
Nice hike and report , I hiked up to Langley with my sister back in the day . Have you been up to Whitney or any other peaks in the area? It's nice that the parking lot is at 10k feet lol...
 
#4
Nice hike and report , I hiked up to Langley with my sister back in the day . Have you been up to Whitney or any other peaks in the area? It's nice that the parking lot is at 10k feet lol...
Thanks! I hiked White Mountain Peak at the end of July, that was my first 14er. WMP is pretty easy in comparison to Langley. You start out at 12.5K at Barcroft (on open gate days) and it's 11 miles round trip..

Here's a graph that shows the elevations of the two hikes:
wmp_langley_graph.jpg

I plan on bagging all the ranked 14ers by the end of next season.. Only 10 more to go :)
 

Rallyroo

Expedition Leader
#5
I plan on bagging all the ranked 14ers by the end of next season.. Only 10 more to go :)
These two guys are hard core. Took them 22 days. Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright did all the 14ers (and some 13ers) in California by bicycle and foot. They started at Shasta and finished with Langley.

" the two biked more than 700 miles, hiked at least 100 miles, and climbed over 100,000 vertical feet, often via difficult technical rock climbs. "

http://www.climbing.com/news/honnold-wright-enchain-california-14ers-by-bike-foot-and-free-solo/



1. Mt. Shasta (Sargents Ridge)
2. North Palisade
3. Middle Palisade (traversed in from Norman Clyde—epic choss death mission)
4. Starlight Peak
5. Thunderbolt Peak
6. Polemonium Peak
7. Mt. Sill
8. Split Mountain
9. White Mountain Peak
10. Mt. Tyndall (Tyndall Effect)
11. Mt. Williamson
12. Mt. Russell (Mithril Dihedral)
13. Mt. Whitney (East Face/Keeler Needle)
14. Mt. Muir
15. Mt. Langley (Rest and Be Thankful)




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I just bagged Mt Kilimanjaro 19,341' a week ago. :wings:

(weird, what's up with the forum, I can't space out my paragraphs)
 
#6
These two guys are hard core. Took them 22 days. Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright did all the 14ers (and some 13ers) in California by bicycle and foot. They started at Shasta and finished with Langley.
I had heard about that one when it happened.. Pretty awesome feat, and they werent taking easy class 2/3 routes up either..

I just bagged Mt Kilimanjaro 19,341' a week ago. :wings:
Nice! That must have been a blast.. Lets see a TR :)

 
#8
Nice, I've done six 14ers.... have you looked into Thunderbolt yet? :ylsmoke:
Thunderbolt and Starlight are a bit above my skill set at the moment, hence setting the goal of all of the ranked peaks. Probably going to save North Pal for last. Maybe by that time I'll be up to tackling Thunderbolt and Starlight since I'll be right there anyhow.
 
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