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Army Pass

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Army Pass

Postby AvFan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:20 pm

Word late last week that Mr. Thomas Heng died near Army Pass was devastating news. My thoughts go to his friends and family during what is surely a difficult time. Unfortunately Mr. Heng is the second person in recent years to loose their life near Army Pass. While the circumstances of these two tragic events are likely different it is obvious Army Pass can be a risky proposition at any time of the year.

I'm visiting the Mt. Langley/Mitre Basin area in a couple of weeks and intended to use Army Pass. I have used all three passes (Cottonwood, New Army and Army) in the area during my previous three trips and I'm not put off by the unmaintained nature of Army Pass. Army Pass is rough in stretches and the very short section near the top requires you to be deliberate about where you put your feet but I found it perfectly acceptable. I have seen the snow at the top of Army and would never cross that snowfield so it has been completely snow free the times I've used it.

Last summer I finished a version of the High Sierra Trail by exiting at the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead via Army Pass. It was Labor Day weekend and many folks were ascending Army Pass to climb Mt. Langley. Army was as I remembered and I was quickly down to Lakes 4 & 5.

I'm now uncertain whether I want to use Army Pass this year. My questions for those who've used Army Pass this year and previous years: Has Army Pass deteriorated from last year? Are you still comfortable using it?

Thanks for the information!



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Re: Army Pass

Postby cloudlesssky » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:35 pm

I went over (old) Army Pass a couple times last year (Aug & Sep '11) and once so far this year (mid Jun '12). With the exception of a small section of snow near the top this year (which I'm sure is gone now), the pass seemed mostly the same to me. I wouldn't hesitate to go over it again and would actually choose it over New Army Pass.
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Re: Army Pass

Postby AvFan » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:02 am

Thanks for the information. One of my group is making their first trip to the Sierras and if Army Pass had deteriorated much I would have used NAP. But like you, I certainly prefer Army as it is more direct way over the crest and avoids the additional 300 climb required at NAP.
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Re: Army Pass

Postby Turtleggjp » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:16 pm

I had just gone up Army Pass the day before he died. I was just dayhiking, but I found Army Pass presented no major difficulties. I too came down Army Pass last year just after Labor Day and can remember crossing a couple of very short patches of snow. This year, nothing. I did see some snow near the top, but it was not on the trail. I wonder if he got lost in the clouds, and just started down as fast as he could, hit the snow (ice?) and slid down too far too fast. If he and his group came up over New Army Pass, he may have not been familiar with the route down Army Pass.

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Re: Old Army Pass

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:54 pm

I crossed Old Army Pass when there was snow and ice one it, and it was bad. I should not have crossed it. But if the snow/ice is gone, it is perfectly fine, as safe as any pass I have crossed. But that was 12 years ago:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com/whitney/whitney58.htm
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Re: Army Pass

Postby AvFan » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:51 pm

Thanks Turtle for the current conditions. I will stick with my plan to use Army Pass this year since there is no snow on the trail. I recall last year's snow patches but they were further down and not near the top.

Doyle, I'm glad you made it across that snow field at the top but as I noted I'll never cross it. I first saw it after using NAP in late June 2006 when we wandered over to take a look. The snowfield was there at the top and we were glad we didn't come up that way.
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Re: Army Pass

Postby Mradford » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:05 pm

On a trip i did in june we stopped by and checked out OAP after going over NAP and there wasnt much snow on it and it didnt look to scary. I can definitely see how if there was snow it would be a different story, especially going down it! :eek:
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