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cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney....

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cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney....

Postby yosemiteforlife67 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:45 pm

Can anyone give me some information on my possible cross country route i will be taking to Mt whitney , from cottonwood lakes trailhead, up mt langley, through lower soldier lake, sky blue lake, over crabtree pass, and over discovery pinnacle to trailcrest and mt whitney?? Most cross country routes i have seen, go through sky blue, and over crabtree pass, and back through lower crabtree lakes... I am thinking of just going straight over discovery pinnacle..Anyone who may have taken this route, and how rugged is it really??...
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby seano » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:22 pm

yosemiteforlife67 wrote:Anyone who may have taken this route, and how rugged is it really??...

I did it last October, and it's 3rd class if you contour around below McAdie and Marsh. I've heard it's milder (with a terrible sand hill) if you drop down to the lake.

EDIT: a couple of pics here.
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby yosemiteforlife67 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:11 am

Thanks, i am still trying to decide whether to just take the main trail from langley down to lower soldier lake, and just continue over guyot pass, through crabtree meadow and on up to guitar lake and onto trail crest, or take the adventurous route. I am not going to go, until the last week of july, but i appreciate the information on this route so i can decide whether we will take this route, my group numbers 10 so with the class 3 stuff, it might be a little challenging...
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby Princess Buttercup » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:32 am

It's basically a sand slog (called the "Dreaded Sand Hill" for a reason). If you do a search over at the Whitney Portal Store Message Board I'm sure you could find a number of threads/photos.
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby peninsula » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:45 pm

yosemiteforlife67 wrote:Thanks, i am still trying to decide whether to just take the main trail from langley down to lower soldier lake, and just continue over guyot pass, through crabtree meadow and on up to guitar lake and onto trail crest, or take the adventurous route. I am not going to go, until the last week of july, but i appreciate the information on this route so i can decide whether we will take this route, my group numbers 10 so with the class 3 stuff, it might be a little challenging...


I have hiked all over the area you are interested in, and my opinion is to stay on the main trail. Although it looks longer on the map, you will find it takes far less time by going over Guyot. Depending on your schedule, I'd recommend to take time for day hikes and explore Miter Basin.

Another option is to hike into Crabtree Lake Basin from Sky Blue, then down to the main trail in Crabtree Meadow. It is more about personal preferences in making this call; if you really prefer tedious cross-country mountaineering, then go for the "straight-line" cross-country route. My efforts always seem to get frustrated with more time and energy spent slogging through the cross-country routes than had I stayed on the main trail, those straight lines are not all that straight! For me, in terms of time spent on the trail, going from point A to point B, I find greater efficiency by using the main trail for the most part, and going off trail to access a lake basin here or there for solitude. Safety is another consideration, and who you plan to take with you. Class 3 routes are deceptively challenging! Chances for potentially serious injury are far greater than looking at a map might suggest. The greater the number in your party, the greater the odds for injury. One serious injury will completely change everything.
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby Bob Burd » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:46 pm

While I agree with peninsula's assertion for many cross-country routes, I'd have to respectfully disagree on this particular one. There is a very good use trail up Rock Creek all the way to Sky Blue Lake:

Image

It's also one of the prettier canyons in the area. From the lake to Crab Tree Pass is fairly pleasant class 2. From Crab Tree Pass, one can avoid any class 3 by dropping down to the lake before starting back up. The class 3 seano refers to saves about 500ft of extra descent, so you have an option if your party feels up to it. I've done it both ways and didn't find the contour to save time or effort. Here's what the north side of Crabtree Pass looks like:

Image

From the lake up to Discovery Pinnacle is exactly as Moosetracks describes it - a huge sand/gravel slog, 1,500ft worth. This pic shows about 2/3 of the slog up to Discovery Pinnacle:

Image

That said, it's hugely faster to reach Whitney via this route than going down to Crabtree Lakes/Meadow and back up the JMT. It's less than a mile and 1,500ft to Trail Crest via cross-country, vs. 10 miles and 3,000ft via Crabtree Meadow.
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby peninsula » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:02 pm

Bob Burd wrote:While I agree with peninsula's assertion for many cross-country routes, I'd have to respectfully disagree on this particular one. There is a very good use trail up Rock Creek all the way to Sky Blue Lake:

That said, it's hugely faster to reach Whitney via this route than going down to Crabtree Lakes/Meadow and back up the JMT. It's less than a mile and 1,500ft to Trail Crest via cross-country, vs. 10 miles and 3,000ft via Crabtree Meadow.


Hey Bob, if only I had you as my guide, I'd take your route in a heartbeat!
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby yosemiteforlife67 » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:45 am

Wow , i really appreciate the pictures , explanation and advice on this. I will certainly take this into consideration while making my decision. The "adventure" in me wants to take the cross country route, but i will have to confer with my group to see what we will do. I am just starting my physical training to prepare for the up and downs of the terrain, especially with a full pack.
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Re: cross country route from cottonwood lakes to mt whitney.

Postby mttaolp » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:24 pm

bob burd, hi,

this is the exact route i am planning to take this coming june, 2014. i live in lone pine and have never walked up mt whitney from the east side. i did go uo there one time coming from fresno, but just because i found myself in there area cross countrying on the high plateau. thanks for the pictures and the description.
if you are ever back this way. a favorite hike of mine is a short 2-3 night trip: uo shepherds trail: then north over forester pass: then turning east and going south again up center basin and up over junction pass back down to shepherds pass.
junction pass was the main trail before forester pass and the john muir trail. it is not named on many of the newer maps. at the top of the pass just below mt keith is what i call the island in the sky. a narrow flatish spit for lack of a better word, that separates center basin and the area tot the west that holds the john muir trail. from up there you have a 360 view of peaks. this is the highlight of the trip. i made a little campsite there years ago by just moving rocks to accommodate a tent space. there are rocks strewn all over on the spit.
i never saw another tent site there.
from there it is easy down to anvil camp. and mt keith is also accessible.

thanks again, scott s.
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