Ascent of Mount Langley on 2018-09-10

Climber: Ray Thompson

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, September 10, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Mount Langley
    Elevation:14026 ft / 4275 m

Ascent Trip Report

At last, Mt. Langley, the capstone for my 2018 summer hiking season. Drove up to Lone Pine on a Sunday and again checked in at the Dow Villa. Went cross the street to the Lone Pine Smokehouse, a Texas style BBQ place. Was not impressed, sorry to say. Having scouted Horseshoe Meadows on the Olancha Peak trip the prior month I had no trouble getting to the parking lot in the early AM darkness and even got the space immediately adjacent to the trailhead. A good omen, for sure. Started up the trail right at 6AM sharp, and arrived at the front lip of Cottonwood Lakes basin at 7:30. And, wow, what a magnificent sight it was with the dawn lighting up Mt. Langley and Mt. Cirque. Turning around I could see Telescope Peak silhouetted by the rising sun. I wished Deni had been there to see it in person as the pictures, while good, just didn't do it justice.

I continued along the trail through the basin, making my way to the base of Old Army pass. I choose the Old Army pass route over New Army pass not so much because of the shorter distance but because I really don't like gaining altitude only to later loose it and then have to regain it to make the summit. ( Yes I am looking at you, White Mountain Peak. ) This decision led to a rather interesting experience as the trail up Old Army is no longer maintained by the powers that be and as such there are a few places where the trail has disappeared under slides. Those spots are then navigated by either newly formed use trails or short Class 2-ish scrambles. Anyway, upon finding myself at one such spot I could see a chute with some snow in it directly above me and going right to the top of the pass. And some evidence others had taken that route, too. Having mastered the mile long Class 2 scramble up Olancha Peak I figured, sure I could do this. Maybe even save some time and certainly some distance. Well, I was right about the latter but probably not the former. The first part of the assent into the chute was mainly loose scree. Eventually I got into the chute proper where the patch of snow was. My lack of spikes notwithstanding I had hoped it would be an easy walk up on the snow but that wasn't to be as it was as hard as cement. So I scuttled over to the rocky north side of the chute and continued my climb there, eventually popping out at the top and at the pass.

At the pass the trail heads north to Langley proper. Eventually the trail sort of disappears but the route to the summit is marked by a series of very large, well constructed cairns. Mini obelisks really. You find yourself just looking up and navigating your way from one giant cairn to another. There is one very small, short section between two of the cairns that involves a Class 2 climb. It should also be noted by the time you've reach the cairns you're really feeling the full effect of the altitude. One hiker I met on the summit offered that Langley was a much harder climb then was Whitney, which he had done the day before. Anyway the final hundred yards is an all but level stroll over the summit plateau to its high point on the eastern edge overlooking Lone Pine and the Owens Valley. The views in every direction were staggering and really made up and then some for the disappointment on the Olancha climb.

The hike back to the trailhead from the summit down though the Cottonwood basin was quick and scenic. It should be noted I went down Old Army pass by the standard trail. As is most often the case, trail finding is a lot easier going down than up. However upon leaving the Cottonwoods basin the hike just seemed to take forever and ever. And frankly was just plain boring. As such I was really delighted when I caught sight through the trees the bright orange color of my truck right there adjacent to the end of the trail. The drive down the mountain to Lone Pine was very scenic too and I arrived back at the Dow Villa with plenty of time for a dip in the jacuzzi and pool before making my way over to the Seasons Restaurant for dinner and a celebratory martini. Also very pleased to report the next morning I was able to get a seat in the Alabama Hill Cafe with only minimal waiting; I mentioned to the server I initially thought they were closed as there wasn't the usual line out in front.

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Old Army Pass and the basin of Cottonwood Lake #4. (2018-09-10). Photo by Ray Thompson.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4026 ft / 1227 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4026 ft / 1227 m
    Round-Trip Distance:20.5 mi / 33 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1, Class 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Slight breeze on the summit
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4026 ft / 1227 m
    Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:via Old Army Pass
    Start Trailhead:Horseshoe Meadows   10000 ft / 3048 m
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4026 ft / 1227 m
    Distance:10.5 mi / 16.9 km
    Route:via Old Army Pass
    End Trailhead:Horseshoe Meadows   10000 ft / 3048 m
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes

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