Monday, September 12, 2011

Mt. Langley Trip Report & Photos

Monday September 5, 2011: Rest & Relaxation. The adventure continues......After Whitney I would be meeting up with my wife and our friend Patti to climb Mt. Langley. They would be meeting me Tuesday afternoon so I had Monday afternoon to rest up and clean up. I booked a room at the Dow Villa. I have stayed here before and have always enjoyed the experience. The rooms are nice and quaint, the only thing some don't like it the shared bathrooms with other guests, but I don't mind, a nice bed and a television to watch more football were all I needed. I finished Whitney earlier than expected which allowed me the time to do laundry across the street, it was nice to have clean clothes after a week and a half in the mountains. I had some more Subway for dinner and a nice ice cream for desert and hit the sack. After the terrible rest at the Portal Campground, the quiet room at the Dow Villa was wonderful and needed.
Tuesday September 6, 2011: Horseshoe Meadow Backpackers Camp. Woke up feeling refreshed and recharged after a great nights rest. Judy and Patti were due to arrive in Lone Pine around noon so I had time to grab some more Subway for breakfast and relax. I met Judy and Patti at the visitor center where we picked up our permit. We decided to have a good old Mexican lunch at Bonanza's. Judy and I have only eaten here after tough hikes and always enjoyed the food. But is it really good or were we just starving. Today we would find out. Turns out their food is good anytime. After picking up some firewood, hot dogs and a bottle of wine it was off to the Horseshoe Meadow Backpackers Campground. It was really nice to be with my wife backpacking again, a really special trip. She has been very supportive of my wild Sierra trips and I cannot thank her enough, couldn't do it without her. We set up a nice little camp, got a campfire going, grilled some hot dogs and drank some wine. Good times. The plan tomorrow was to make it to Cottonwood Lakes #3 and set up base camp. Another good night of sleep was in store.
Wednesday September 7, 2011: Cottonwood Lake #3. Woke up feeling good. We had an easy six mile trek into the Cottonwood Lakes Basin. We had some breakfast, packed up our gear and headed off at the leisurely hour of 9:30 am. The skies were filled with puffy white cumulus clouds. I had a weather report of a 20% chance of T-Storms tomorrow then some really nasty weather over the weekend, so these clouds shouldn't cause us any problems. We made good time to our camp alongside Cottonwood #3. We set up camp at an excellent site, very cozy. We would now watch the clouds come and go. Warm in the sun, quite chilly in the shade of the clouds. I had read reports that Army Pass was free of troublesome snow, so I decided this would be tomorrows route to Mt. Langley. We wandered on up to Cottonwood #4 to have a look at Army Pass and it was indeed very passable. We had a nice backpackers dinner and went to sleep rather early. Tomorrow would be a big day.
Judy At The Trailhead

Walking With A View

Cottonwood Lake #3

Thursday September 8, 2011: Mt. Langley. Originally we wanted to wake up at 5:00 am but it was windy and cold last night so we woke up with the sun at 6:00 am. It had been windy all night, but it was peaceful and clear in the morning. We got some breakfast and were off. First obstacle of the day was Army Pass. We found the going to be reasonable for a trail that hasn't been officially maintained for thirty years. There were a couple of boulders to go around and two small snowfields, but we made good time up the pass and before too long were on the plateau.
It was now a two and a half mile stroll over to the summit, if only it were that easy. We were at 12,000' atop the pass and Mt. Langley is 14,042'. There is no official trail to the summit, just a bunch of user paths through the sand. I had climbed Langley twice before and knew the general path we needed to follow. It is a gradual climb for the first mile, then it turns steep. Some places the trail is steep over loose sand, two steps up, one step down. Progress is slow and tiring doing this. I was keeping one eye on the building clouds to the east. Langley is a very exposed place to be in a thunderstorm and it is many miles to treeline. We made steady progress through the class two slopes and before too long made the summit plateau. It was now a fairly easy walk east to the summit. This was Judy and Patti's second fourteener, they both have climbed Whitney prior. We all took photos, had some lunch and soaked in the amazing views in all directions. Particularly impressive is Mt. Whitney. It really towers above all, very grand. For as hard as climbing in the sand can be, it is a blast going down. I gave a quick tutorial in scree surfing and off we went. We made it back to Army Pass in little over an hour. We made equally good time down the pass and back to camp ahead of the building clouds which were getting darker and darker by the minute.
We broke down camp and headed back to the trailhead at 4:00 pm. The clouds were really thick and dark above Langley, I was glad we were back in the trees. About two miles down the trail we got our first and only thunder from the clouds. It looked like it would break loose, but it never did. Just the one thunder and some sprinkles, we were fortunate. We made it back to the cars before sunset and back to Lone Pine in time to enjoy a pizza at the Pizza Factory. Good times indeed. My eleven day jaunt in the Sierra's was complete. 118.1 miles, +32,700' of elevation gain and six mountain climbed. The weather had held up great, but it looks like we got out just in time. The weather would turn ugly for the next week or so, lightning, thunder and snow descended upon the mountains as we drove home. I had a great adventure and was very happy with the results.
Morning Light

Army Pass From Cottonwood #4

Judy With Army Pass In Background

Steady Climbing

Looking Southwest From Army Pass

Mt. Langley

Looking West From Plateau

Tough Climbing With A Smile :)

We Will Angle Left Through The Sand & Talus

Steady As She Goes

Looking West From Summit Plateau

First View Of Mt. Whitney

Grand Vistas In All Directions

Congrats On Their Second 14er

Tough, But Worth It

Very Special To Summit With My Wife :)

Mt. Whitney Towers Above All

Lone Pine & The Owens Valley

All Smiles After Summiting

Steep North Face Of Mt. Langley

Heading On Down

Cottonwood #4 On Descent From Army Pass

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