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A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

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A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby AlaskaIsCold » Thu May 24, 2018 5:45 am

So after being able to snag a permit I have a long (for me) trip planed in August, Langley to Whitney! Two other friends and I are making the trek, I am working on the logistical side of things so I was wondering about the difference between the new and old army pass. Does anyone know if old army pass is typically clear of snow (or can be traveled with minimal skill and trekking poles) in Early August (1st-2nd) I would much rather show them cottonwood basin and go up the old army pass than to take a trail ive never been on before (south fork trail) and camp up at high lake. We are planning to go summit Langley, then go through miter basin, into crabtree lakes then down and around to one of the lakes on the west side of Whitney, then summit Whitney and head out. I was also wondering if anyone has gone up to mount Hitchcock from the south (Crabtree lakes side), I have read that its class 1/2, just steep and annoying as hell. Google maps and other peoples pictures support that but some direct first hand accounts would be nice.
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby Jimr » Thu May 24, 2018 8:31 am

OAP should be fine come Aug 1-2. Nothing special needed.
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby CAMERONM » Thu May 24, 2018 11:17 am

I would seek a trip report closer to the event. I like Old Army but it is very rough in spots and giant boulders could take out sections of the trail today...or tomorrow. Rangers don't like sending people there, probably also because of the death event a few years ago, so they may all advise not doing it. It's generally fine, but you and your friends have to be comfortable potentially skirting some large rocks or trail blow-outs in some reasonably steep places.
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby bobby49 » Thu May 24, 2018 4:21 pm

I agree. Old Army Pass should be OK by August. Note that it will not be perfect. I don't think that it has been maintained in years. Last time I was there, all sorts of boulders had slid down across the trail. Multiply that by some snow and it can get pretty dicey. It is shorter than New Army Pass, though, especially if you are headed for Mount Langley.

Originally, Old Army Pass was the way to go. However, it is north-facing, so winter snow would hang there through too much of the summer. So, they constructed New Army Pass. It is south-facing, so the snow melts off more predictably, even if you have to ascend a few hundred feet higher.
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby maverick » Thu May 24, 2018 4:42 pm

OAP should be fine, if not, then go NAP, the main point is to stay within your comfort levels and not get in over your head. Here is a video of a group going up Mount Hitchcock from Crabtree Meadow area, it is a pretty easy scramble up the sandy class 1 slopes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwoPSTLtc5c
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby Dmasten » Thu May 24, 2018 8:51 pm

South Fork trail is unmaintained and the last 1/4 mile or so is difficult to follow. The blue route you show is off trail from the South Lakes outlet to Long Lake (or at least I've never seen a trail in that area). The maintained route is the New Army Pass Trail that goes along lakes 1 & 2. If you do go to New Army Pass, I'd camp at Long Lake rather than High lake as it is less exposed.

What map did you use for the illustration?
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby apeman45 » Thu May 24, 2018 9:45 pm

It's been a while but I seem to remember having to navigate a boulder field on the south lakes trail on my way to Long Lake. I never actually saw a trail so I was probably off route. Not particularly scenic and took longer than the lovely trail along the cottonwood lakes.
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Re: A Question about Mount Langley ...and Mount Hitchcock

Postby John Harper » Fri May 25, 2018 12:06 pm

There are some cairns I found last year just west of the middle (kiddie pool) South Fork Lakes that skirt the boulder fields. The route is actually pretty close to the blue line on your map just past the lower SF Lake. It looks like a sandy wash, and the walking is much easier than struggling over the boulder field. I was pretty stoked to find a much easier route from the lower SF lake to the upper. Boulder hopping that area gets stale real quick.

You want to be on the left (west) side of the lower SF Lake, that is where the trail goes, on up to Cirque Lake. Just stay on the left around SF Lake to the NW end, then look for the small sandy drainage that follows all the way up to the west of the outlet of the upper SF Lake.

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