Big 23 mi day out of Cottonwood Lakes TH - lots of fun through Army Pass - great views from the top and super pretty down by the lakes
My hiking partner, Rich, and I started at Cottonwood Lakes trailhead.. slept in cars the night of June 18. Hiked in on June 19 to camp at High Lake. We took a look at High Lake and decided Long Lake was less exposed and pitched camp there. 40 lb pack (too much for this geezer) was a load carrying up. Beautiful day. Gorgeous hike. Mosquitoes descended upon us the sun went down. Treated water at well-flowing stream against an incredible mountain landscape, and mountain meadow and lake. On trail at 7am, June 20, and headed up New Army Pass (NAP.). Top part of trail covered in pile of snow, so we maneuvered up through rocks then across a small ledge then up through some more rocks and we were up on the pass (this detour was easier going up then coming down.. coming down on tired rubbery legs and looking, if one so chooses, down on a long drop takes my breath away. I chose not to look).
From NAP, we began the trek up toward Langley. We noticed three hikers cutting the trail across a field (to meet a more defined path headed toward Langley) moving in a direction parallel to Old Army Pass. We balked at this and took the marked trail which lead us toward Soldier Lake, and we became a little confused as the trail kept directing us away and down from our intended destination. We decided to change to a less defined path, which was guarded (and discouraged) by a line of small rocks, back up toward where the previously described path that the cutting hikers were headed. On our way back from the summit we became cutters, as well.
At that point on the way back, I was too spent to argue the point.
Back to our ascent, after a steady slog upwards we started following the cairns up towards the summit plateau and came to a decision. We chose to short cut the access to the top of the plateau, and fire go the suggested cairns route. Not smart. To the eye the climb up through the rocks looked much shorter to access the final walk up to the summit, as opposed to following the cairns. My partner Rich started climbing up through and got about 20-25 feet up ahead of me, reporting back as he went. I got to a place where I worried about getting back down should I decide to change my mind. Rich seemed like he was in his way so I told him to go on, I’d meet him at the top. This meant I would have to make my way down out of the rocks, down the short scree field and take the suggested route marked by cairns, which I did. I was cursing myself for not demanding that we take the marked cairns route in the first place. Plus, we were now split up, the cardinal rule of backcountry hiking, broken.
Long story shorter, I made it up to the summit where I met again with Rich, but not without a healthy dose of worry and speculation.
Follow the cairns! We made it safely back down to Long Lake and hiked out the next morning
FYI - The scree on the upper parts of the trail is deep and challenging, especially going up. Coming down is much easier, but the up part is a workout.
All in all a wonderfully beautiful trip with three days of cloudless blue sky (a blessing at this time of year in the high sierras), but the hike is arguably as tough or tougher than Mt. Whitney, which I was able to successfully summit (day hike) two years ago.
Follow the cairns!
I was wondering what the condition of the top of New Army Pass is.. snow/ice? Can you cross it with poles as opposed to axe and crampons?
Also, is there snow/ice at the class 2 short cliff section before the plateau approach to the summit?
Thanks for the trip report.
Long hike, never thought it would end! Took New Army Pass because Old Army was full of snow. Once over New Army, winds were pretty intense. Felt OK until the grade kicked up meaningfully at ~13,000'. Felt harder than Mt Whitney via trail. Was thinking of tagging Cirque Peak on the way back but was too spent.
Longish or perhaps it’s just my age. Great views from the summit.
Summited on September 10, 2017! Wrote up a little trip report too! Great weather and awesome views! love this trail! http://www.shedreamsofalpine.com/blog/2017/10/16/26-miles-backpacking-and-summiting-mount-langley-cottonwood-lakes-trail
Up the Northeast Coulier, camped somewhere about 10K'. Snow and weather was perfect. Solid summit day save for some surprisingly bad AMS at the summit.
Didn't sleep well so I ended up leaving the trailhead around 3am. Used the OAP route which was clear of snow. Round trip was about 8 hours 10 minutes.
Camped at Long lake, New Army Pass was pretty sketch at the top with a 4th class move protected by a wall of snow. Beautiful weather, no wind at summit.
Did the NE Couloir with my climbing buddy, Kent. Great route, did some route finding and Class 3+ scrambling to get back on track. Saw only three other people the entire time. Lots of bush whacking on the approach which was a pain but fun route.
A repeat of summiting in 2014. The NPS evidently shifted its huge cairns from two years ago, so the route differed slightly. It's still a grind to the top from New Army Pass but worth every minute of it.
Day hiked with trish via old army pass. Made it in just under ten hours car to car.
Did this as a day hike preparing for a Mt Williamson and Tyndall double bid. It was such a nice day hike, so gradual, only 4400 feet elevation gain and 11.79 miles to top. Use trail not obvious, sort of saw it from Pass, but had to hike around to it. There are more use trails than the map shows, but it is an obvious peak. And the climbing just keeps going. Its a long summit push, huge summit, with barely anyone to share it with compared to Mt. Whitney. But just as sweet.
The peak that really got me hooked...took Old Army Pass up and it started to snow ever so gently as we got to the summit. Absolutely beautiful.
Camped at south lake, up New Army pass, then up around the back side of the mountain. We descended by Old Army Pass.
Day after making it up Whitney, made it just under Army Pass and made camp. Moon was about half full so about 8pm decided to make it a night solo climb. There was enough light to make it without headlamps to the summit. Made the summit around 10pm and made it back down with headlamps to camp.
Beautiful clear night
Perfect day and a beautiful hike.
With Todd and John.
Easy first 6+ miles, then a warmup going up Old Army Pass, followed by another easy mile followed by the famous slog to the top. Some of the cairns marking the trail on this section were so big they deserve their own SP page. RT was about 9:45, including about a half hour on top. Long dayhike but certainly manageable.
Summit number 6