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This Summer, will be heading Mount Langley to climb our first 14er of 2021!

Mount Langley - Inyo National Forest, California

Length: 25 miles • Summit: 14,026 feet • Elevation Gain: 3,986 feet

July 16-18, 2021

Mt. Langley is the southernmost of California’s 15 fourteeners –mountains taller than 14,000ft in elevation – yet, it is just barely taller at 14026’. Langley has a very distinctive summit shape, with a large summit plateau, gently sloping off to the southwest from the summit. This makes the hike to the summit gentler and less steep than nearly every other fourteener in California. Thus its popularity, second only to Mt. Whitney.

The trailhead is in Horseshoe Meadows, a very large and nearly flat meadow region at high altitude, 10000’. The meadows are reached by a steep and stunning road from Lone Pine, originally built to service a Disney Ski Resort, that never got off the ground (much like in Mineral King). The elevation of this trailhead is another benefit to the hike. Less vertical to the summit! Also there is a backpacker’s campground at the trailhead, where you can camp the night before to help get acclimated to the elevation.

 

The hike to Cottonwood Lakes is a beautiful hike all on its own. A gently sloping trail leads up Cottonwood Creek, through meadows and pine forests, to the string of 10 alpine lakes in the upper valleys. There is plenty of water, but all must be filtered, because of the popularity of the region, and stock that also use the trails. We will hike just 5.4 miles, and 1000’ of elevation on the first day to our camp, which we will aim for to be just above Lake #2. That will leave plenty of time in the afternoon to explore, swim, play, set camp and eat, and of course an early bedtime. The Cottonwood Lakes are in stunning valleys and bowls with the high peaks surrounding them. We will have a commanding view of the peak we will summit the next day!

Day 2 we will be up at dawn, breakfast, and hit the trail before the sun is up. We will return downslope a bit to the New Army Pass trail, then head up past Long Lake and High Lake where we will leave the trees behind. Here at 11400’ we are above the timberline. Then is the steep climb up the rock and talus to New Army Pass, at 12310’. From here we will enter Sequoia National Park, and our views will open up all the way west across the Kern canyon, to the Great Western Divide beyond. We should be able to see our peak of 2 years ago, Sawtooth! From here we will descend 300’, before climbing again to the saddle at Old Army Pass. Then begins our final 3-mile approach up to Langley, mostly on trail and sand.  Eventually we will reach the summit block, where the last half mile is class 2 boulder hopping up. Then we will be standing on the summit! At the edge of the sheer north face cliffs, seeing north to Whitney and Williamson, even as far north as Split, Middle Palisade and White Mountain. All of Sequoia NP and the southern Sierra will be laid out below us as well.

 

On our return to camp, we will create a loop, taking the shorter way down the unmaintained trail below Old Army Pass, hike along Lake number 4 and 3 before reaching camp again. 7.2 miles up, and 6.4 miles down, for a fairly low mileage day of 13.6.  Food and whiskey and laughter at camp to celebrate our adventure. The next morning, sleep in a bit, then an easy walk out back to our cars.

General Info: 

 

Gear required:

  • 3 day Backpack. Min 60L

  • All typical backpacking gear, including sleeping gear, tent, cooking gear, appropriate clothing for the weather (TBD)

  • Sleeping bag, min of a 30° bag

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, bug protection REQUIRED

  • Personal water filter and containers REQUIRED

  • Bear canisters REQUIRED

  • Microspikes REQUIRED

  • Crampons and Ice Axe possible, depending on scale of the snow year

  • A more detailed gear list will be created and distributed to all hikers.

 

Challenges:

  • Altitude

  • Inclement weather, thunderstorms and snow, depending on the season

  • Snow on the passes and mountain in high snow year

  • Mosquitos at Cottonwood Lakes in early and mid summer

  • Hike is mostly Class 1; the summit block has some class 2 boulder scrambles, and the last 300’ of gain is all class 2. One of the 3 Class 1 fourteeners in California: Langley, Whitney, and White

Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

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