Ascent of Mount Langley on 2012-06-03

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Collin Kamholz
Date:Sunday, June 3, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Mount Langley
    Elevation:14026 ft / 4275 m

Ascent Trip Report

Drove up the long switchbacked Horseshoe Meadows Road to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead, pitched my tent and went to bed at 1:00am, trying not to wake anyone else up or get bothered by bears. Woke up at 4:45am, packed up my stuff food in the (free/unsecured) bear lockers, and hit the trail later than expected at 5:50am. The Old and New Army Trails split at around 3.6 miles, we took Old Army (to the right). After passing several lakes and many bugs, the "crux" of the route was the steep north-facing flank of (Old) Army Pass. Two very steep snow-filled couloirs graced the NW flank, one of which had a climber about 70% of the way up to the top which Collin and I observed from the lake. We took the standard route, crossing several areas covered in deep snow, the last of which was inconveniently steep, slippery, and exposed to a big fall down into the rocky basin. The snow was soft and fairly wet with an icy crust, and we opted to leave our crampons in our packs as they seemed like they would just punch too deep and make things worse. The ice axes offered good security, and we tiptoed and post-holed our way across, and arrived at the actual Army Pass saddle just below 12000'. We covered our unneeded gear in rocks (for fear of marmots chewing straps and such), and began working our way toward the summit in the distance. The whole mountain seems to be made of decomposed granite, which is just like sand (soft, but slow and tedious). The last 2000' are no exception. The summit looks very close and low from the saddle, but it is an illusion of sorts. I would have bet money it was just 500-600 vertical feet, but is actually over 2000' from that pass. I felt strong on the upper mountain, and ended up taking one of the many indistinct trails that lead to some rocky cliff bands enroute to the top. I easily ascended these (arguably Class 3-), and overtook the climber I saw ascending the snow couloir earlier in the day. A group of three ladies from Santa Barbara, CA were on the summit enjoying the view, and began their descent a short while later. The climber from the couloir was Terry Cline, a veteran of many ascents. He explained that he had some trouble finding the route on the way up, so had just gone up the couloir instead! He requested to follow us down the standard (Old Army Pass route) rather than risk the descent of the very steep, melting snow couloir, which Collin and I were more than happy to oblige. We hiked down to the saddle/pass, retrieved our axes and crampons (cut my finger on a tip, damnit, but the marmot had left everything alone), and went back down the slippery melting snow without incident. Just looking at the steep snow couloir, I don't know how Terry would have made it down without waiting until morning for it to solidify! We parted with our new friend not far from the lake where he was camped, and began the long, tedious journey on the sandy trail back to the campground. Collin was limping on his sore knee, but still keeping a good pace. The long day hike ended with the long drive back to Las Vegas, NV. Driving near Badwater in Death Valley, Collin's GPS was reading -259', a 14285' lower elevation than we had been at just six hours before!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Extra Gain:274 ft / 83 m
    Distance:20.1 mi / 32.3 km
    Route:Cottonwood Lakes trail to Old Army Pass
    Trailhead:Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead  10074 ft / 3070 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Clear, warm day
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:5 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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