Old Army Pass

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Old Army Pass

by peninsula » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:46 pm

Reading a brief description of Old Army Pass co-written by Romain and johnk ( http://www.summitpost.org/route/156296/ ... route.html ), I'll copy and paste the following:

Most people use Old Army pass, at the edge of the last lake in the basin. This is both easier and shorter than New Army Pass, although the new Army Pass trail is better maintained.

I reckon I'm not most people as I have been in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin on numerous occasions and always proceeded over New Army Pass. I'm looking to visit this area late September and figure it is worth considering Old Army Pass. Is it reasonably doable with a full pack? Is anyone aware of winter developments making the route more hazardous? My destination is Mitre Basin and beyond.



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by Romain » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:58 pm

Old Army has a use trail when not covered by snow, which I assume will be the case in September. So yes, it should be very doable with a full pack. The climb to the top of the pass is pretty short, with or without snow. You can always reevaluate once there based on conditions in the Cottonwood Lakes area. If you don't see much snow in the gullies around, you could just head for Old Army.

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by peninsula » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:52 pm

Thanks, Romain

I'll give it a go. Looks to be a big time saver assuming a lack of snow.

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by rruby » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:19 am

Was just up there last week for a climb of langley (couldn't get permit for north fork). Stayed at the end of cottonwood Lake #3. There's snow in Old Army Pass, but none of it is on the use trail. It's hard to imagine there's a trail going up Old Army Pass when you first look at it, but it's there, and makes what looks intimidating (Old Army Pass) quite easy. There's a pretty good sized use trail running along lake #4, and this runs right up the pass. Plus of course if you're climbing langley, you save 300 ft of climbing by using old army vs new army.

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by chrismarks » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:59 pm

I had planned on climbing Langley last year with my girlfriend and we were advised by several people old army pass was the way to go. There was a serious storm creating trouble for us before we even reached the cottonwood basin though so I can't comment on the route personally.

All I can say is I have it on good authority thats the route of choice for most and that that's one very beautiful hike!

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by EManBevHills » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:05 am

As I understand it, the OAP/NAP conundrum is more a function of the amount of snow remaining on the route, the equipment on hand (ax/pons or not), and the experience of the hiker(s).

Snow stays on OAP considerably longer and tends to be icy at the crux of the route. Most problems, I believe, stem from not having the equipment or skills to navigate the short innocuous looking section approaching the pass.

The best analogy I can offer is a paddling one. It's not the major rapids that cause the most injury. It's the one's where -- if you are unprepared -- the consequences are far greater than they appear at a cursory glance.

And I'm speaking from experience here:


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by edge17 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:08 pm

Thinking about heading through Cottonwood Lakes around Oct. 1. Probably up OAP and down NAP. Anyone been over there recently that can comment on the conditions?
I'd imagine there's not any snow, but can't hurt to ask.

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by Day Hiker » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:43 am

OAP was completely dry, as expected, on 12 September. No new snow as of now. Check for new precip between now and 01 Oct, of course.

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by Kapelmuur » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:35 am

I was there a few weeks ago and thought the dire reports of Old Army being unmaintained were overblown. In effect, it's a well-trodden trail with maybe two sections where you have to do very minor/short/easy scrambles over sections of old rock fall. As mentioned, there was no snow on the trail whatsoever, but obviously early season ice could be an issue, so perhaps a safe bet would be to bring some modest traction.

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