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TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

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TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Bluewater » Sat Oct 01, 2016 2:58 pm

In the spirit of Alastair Humphrey's Microadventure I took off for a quick late season adventure into the High Sierra last weekend. In an effort to fit as much adventure into a 'micro' amount of time I decided to climb the two nearest 14'ers in the Southern Sierra and hike the distance between each one via a 30 mile cross country route along the way.

To make this a mini-thru hike I left a car at Horseshoe Meadows at the southern end of the route and took a shuttle to Whitney Portal in the north where I would begin. Although the route was only 30 miles the total elevation change was over 23,000 feet via mostly cross country terrain with a few class III climbs to keep things interesting.

Once the shuttle dropped me off at Whitney Portal the only way back to the car was to commit to the route. . . and I began to wonder if my plan was too adventurous for just one weekend.

whitney langley weekend 15.JPG


Day 1: 3 miles - 3,500' +

After an early start I arrived at the ranger station in time to get a 'walk-in' permit for the North Fork Lone Pine Creek, (aka the Mountaineers Route) up Mt. Whitney. By the time I reached Whitney Portal it was already 2:00 pm, which left just enough time to hike up to Upper Boy Scout Lake at 11,400' and camp for the night.

Camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake:

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Day 2: 9.5 miles - 4,600'+ / 4,200'-

After camping at Upper Boy Scout Lake I got an early start on the Mountaineers Route to Mt. Whitney. The use trails were easy to follow to Iceberg Lake, but from there the route climbs a 1,500' chute with loose talus and steep ledges to 'The Notch'. The 'Final 400' is a fun class III climb that leads to the peak and before long I was enjoying the view from the top of Mt. Whitney @ 14,500'.

It was only 1:00 pm so after taking a few photos I took the Whitney Trail down toward Discovery Pinnacle where I left the trail and followed a cross country route down the 'Sand Hill' to Crabtree Lakes, then over Crabtree Pass and finally to Sky Blue Lake just after dark.

Iceberg Lake from the chute:

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View from The Notch:

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The Final 400:

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Mt. Whitney:

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Heading down from Discovery Pinnacle to Crabtree Lakes:

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Day 3: 16 miles - 3,600'+ / 6,700'-

After a windy night near the shore of Sky Blue Lake I arose to crystal clear skies and enjoyed a relaxing hike through Miter Basin. After refilling with water at Upper Soldier Lake I started the sandy scree slog up up up to Mt. Langley. There are large cairns setup by the park service to lead the way and after a few hours I was on top, looking back at Mt. Whitney where I had been at the same time the day before!

The rest of the day was all down hill through the beautiful golden meadows in the Cottonwood Lakes area. I made it back to the car at Horseshoes Meadows by 6;00 pm, making it a 52 hour Microadventure.

The fall colors and shorter days reminded me that it was the end of the season and soon the first winter storms would arrive. This was a great way to end another summer in the High Sierra.

Morning in Miter Basin:

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Three Tree Lake:

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The NPS asks us not to move the cairns:

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I don't think anyone is going to be moving the cairns:)

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The view of Mt. Whitney from Mt. Langley:

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Finally at the top:

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Cottonwood Lakes from OAP:

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Fall colors:

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Thanks for reading.

If you're interested in more photos, route details, map and gear list check out:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.c ... ember.html



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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Dragonfly » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:11 pm

Really lovely pics! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby ERIC » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:46 pm

Nice. As always, great report with fantastically vivid photos that take the reader to the moment. You never disappoint. Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Bluewater » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:58 pm

Thanks Dragonfly & Eric for your feedback! I can't wait to get back out there before the first storms hit.
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Shawn » Sat Oct 01, 2016 11:05 pm

Kind of what they said; awesome photos and nice TR. I kept going back to look at "the final 400" photo, something about it really draws me in.
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Bluewater » Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:59 pm

Thanks Shawn!
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Hobbes » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:00 am

Animal.

Q; Now that you've done Frozen lake, Snow tongue, and Sky pilot, how would you compare them to the MR?
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Bluewater » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:36 pm

In order of difficulty probably FLP, MR, Sky Pilot and Snow Tongue (even though the last two don't have the class III 'final 400').

Frozen Lake has the steep loose chute and endless large talus on the north side but no class III climbing, the long talus makes it less fun, but probably easier overall.

Snow Tongue and Sky Pilot have steeper and overall more sketchy loose chutes on the north side.

Snow Tongue has more exposure at the top, at least it felt that way, and overall more sketch-factor than the MR.

The top of Sky Pilot was way more loose with hardly anything to hold on to and the very long talus approach (1 mile+) was tedious but no real class III climbing.

Of all those passes I like the MR best, it has a little of everything but not too much to make it unpleasant, definitely more fun than any of those three passes. The only really difficult class III 'move' was at the very bottom of the Final 400, just to get up into the ledge system. After that there were good hand/foot holds and nice ledges on the right side near the top. Good times!

Russell-Carillon Col is probably the most similar to the MR since it has some real class III at the top with similar exposure (on the Lake Tulainyo side) and a similar approach through Wallace/Wales basin.

At the very bottom right you can see how steep it gets at the top of Russell-Carillon Col:

Image
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby cslaght » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:23 pm

The Miter Basin shot is wonderful, what a cool place that's on my short list!
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby Bluewater » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:41 pm

Thanks cslaght!
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby maverick » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:47 pm

Nice shot of Tulainyo Lake BW. ;)
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Re: TR: X/C Traverse from Mt. Whitney to Mt. Langley

Postby oleander » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:41 pm

Epic. And I love Alastair Humphreys. His two books about cycling the world represent some of the best, most humble adventure writing ever.
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