2-5 Jul 2003 - by Mike Griffo
After climbing Mt Whitney I met up with my Dad and my brother for a 4 day backpacking trip in the Cottonwood Lakes area. The first day we hiked out to Muir Lake and set up camp on the north side of the lake. With beautiful 85 F weather the next day, while my Dad and brother were flyfishing out of Muir Lake and the cottonwood lakes, I took the dogs that we brought with us and scouted the possible climbing routes for Langley. There are several high angle scree shoots above the highest lake butted up against the southern base of Langley. Even though the route to the summit would be shortest via the scree shoots, I decided against them because the idea of a never-ending shoot where I would be slipping backwards a foot every step I take forward didn't seem like much fun. The pass just south of peak 3915 had a large corniced snowfield at the top which made it impassable. The shelf on Army pass was covered in snow and from the base it looked impassable. So, the next morning I set out at 8:30am for New Army pass. To crest the pass there was a short scramble up some large rocks and about 10ft on snow. It was very stable, I saw many people with full packs traverse this section.
Once on the ridgeline I cruised up to the south east nose of Mt Langley and started up the ridge. Due to the large snow fields and my twisted route finding skills I ended up on the eastern face. Although most of it was moving through large 10ft diameter boulders there were a few surprising 5th class moves. About half way through the section I caught up to a couple that I had seen a 1/2 hour before. This reassuring, at least I wasn't completely off route. I summited by 12pm and spent an hour or so on the summit enjoying the views. I came back down the gentler western side and made it back to camp a couple of hours later.
The only mistake that I made on this trip was not to bring enough water. I brought about 1 liter in a platipus because I didn't want to fend off the mosquitoes while pumping water in the morning. I finished the water while eating lunch on the summit and was parched by the time I got back to camp. Because it only took me 3.5hrs to go up and 2hrs to come back down the mistake didn't have any serious consequences but did make the last stretch of the hike a little draining. Overall, it was a beautiful day with excellent views.
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