A group of three summited Langley yesterday am via the NE Couloir. I had previously seen some interesting trip reports of this route in both summer and spring. With the current snow conditions in the High Sierra we decided it was time for a road trip! We left Idyllwild Monday evening and camped in the Alabama Hills. Next morning, after an early breakfast, we packed up our gear in the coolness of Lone Pine park, picked up our permit and headed up to Tuttle Creek. With only having a sedan we had to park about a mile down the road from the true trailhead, darn it!!
The hike up to the Ashrama, or stone hut, was the first time for me, quite an interesting place. From there we took the use 'trail' and headed up the canyon. Tuttle creek is now flowing fast and furious so beware on the 'stream' crossings. At the second crossing there is a newly fallen tree across the creek. This is really useful in this area to safely cross the creek. I think more than anything else I personally get freaked out at large creek crossings due to the inherent dangers. Once you cross the creek you are then on intermittent snow and dirt until you climb about another 500'. From there on it is snow all the way!!
According to my Strava we hiked 6 miles in 6 hrs 45 including numerous rest stops with an altitude gain of 4700'. We camped just below 11,000' in a cluster of weathered pine trees. There was running water in a nearby stream from all the snow melt. Even though it got hot hiking up the canyon temps dropped pretty quickly after 7pm so we made dinner and retired to our warm bags before dark.
We woke at 3am and started our approach to the couloir at 4am. The snow was firm but not icy. The actual distance to the summit is less than 2 miles, according to my Strava data, but includes 3400' elevation gain in that distance! We erroneously thought climbing the couloir would be the hard part. Well, it wasn't! The last 200-300' climb up the ridge to the summit plateau was a challenge with the given snow conditions. It is pretty steep (not sure on the angle?) and the snow had formed into fins with pretty deep fissures in between. This made for a pretty challenging climb to get to the summit! Once on top it was a straightforward hike, sans crampons, to the top. It was pretty breezy and cool so we didn't hang around too long (forgot to take any photos!) and headed back down the way we came. Down climbing the fissured snow was another challenge. Approaching the chute we had hoped the snow had softened to allow us to glissade back to camp, and it had! I went first and almost made it all the way back to camp before soft snow stopped me. From there it was a quick plunge step to camp. That section had taken us about 6.5 hrs round trip, about 4 hours to the summit.
By now it was getting hot so we packed up camp and headed down canyon. It took us about 2 hrs 45 mins to hike back to the car where we were greeted with temps in the 90's, welcome back to the desert! After a quick bite in LP we were back in Idyllwild by 9pm.
What a great trip, can't wait to go back to the magical Sierras!!
P.S., Couldn't figure out how to post some pics?