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#52549 - 01/24/18 02:10 PM Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney
Yoseman Offline


Registered: 01/24/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Pennsylvania
I am looking for any details about summiting Mt. Langley from Old or New Army Pass then down into Miter Basin to camp at Sky Blue lake. Then over Crabtree Pass to Discovery Pinnacle and then the best way to summit Mt. Hitchcock then down to Crabtree lakes #1. for camp#2. The biggest help I need is info on getting from Mt. Langley to Sky Blue lake, I was wondering if I had to backtrack back to Old Army Pass of is there a route down the western slope that is more direct. Any help would be appreciated.

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#52550 - 01/24/18 06:58 PM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Yoseman]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 188
Loc: California
Unfortunately, I had to abort my attempt at that route a year and a half ago.

The easiest way would be to go down to Soldier Lakes from Langley. There's clear trail down to there. The problem with that is then you have to climb back up from Soldier Lakes to Sky Blue Lake.

I started that reclimb, but AMS made me turn around and abort the rest of that trip.

During my planning, I did see some trip reports and gps tracks that showed ways to go down from Langely around the north or south of the Major General, but when I was up there it wasn't obvious that there was a way.


Edited by WanderingJim (01/24/18 06:59 PM)

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#52551 - 01/25/18 07:12 AM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Yoseman]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 104
Loc: Oklahoma
Sounds like it'll be a great trip, Yoseman.

You can get to Sky Blue Lake from Mount Langley by a more direct route than backtracking to Old Army Pass. From the summit, follow the broad southwest ridge of Mount Langley to the saddle just short of the Major General. From there, a wide class 2 chute filled with loose scree descends toward the west-northwest and into the Rock Creek drainage which will lead you to Sky Blue Lake. Secor (The High Sierra, Peaks-Passes-Trails, 3rd ed.) calls this the “West Face” route. I climbed Mount Langley from Sky Blue Lake as a dayhike by that route. I recall that on the descent it was important to be sure and go all the way to the saddle before turning down off the ridge because, other than that one chute, it could get dicey.

Another option, as WanderingJim described, is to backtrack off the Mount Langley summit as far as the drainage to Upper Soldier Lake. Follow that down to below Upper Soldier and take the north fork of the inlet stream of Lower Soldier Lake up and over the ridge into the Rock Creek drainage.

Have fun!


Edited by Glenn (01/25/18 08:22 AM)

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#52555 - 01/25/18 11:39 PM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Glenn]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7262
Loc: Fresno, CA
Welcome, Yoseman!

Two summers back, I tried something similar: HM to Cottonwood Lakes, but I hiked to Cottonwood lake 6 the first day. The last hour was brutal, not helped by the fact I had to drive down from HM to get my permit, since they wouldn't put mine in the overnight box. So with a late start, that first day ended after sundown.

Day 2, I climbed from Lk 6 due west and hit the Langley trail. I had planned to carry my full pack up, and head west off of Langley. But I stopped short due to not enough planning and research: I wasn't sure I could get down the west-facing slope (I failed to look up the Secor book and description), and I failed to correctly read the topo maps -- you really need to haul your pack up to nearly the 4200M (13,800') contour before heading down the west slope. ...or maybe follow the contour from my topping out above Lk6, crossing over to the Major General, and then descending. Anyway, so much for plans.

Instead, I bailed from my plans, dropped down to the upper Soldier Lk from the Langley Trail due S of Major General. From there I screwed up again, (was really tired by then, too.) There IS a route from the upper lake northeast around that nose. However, I didn't climb high enough (at least to the 3460M contour), and instead saw the steep granite between the 3300 and 3400M contours. So I dropped to lower Soldier Lk, some brush crawling required. From there, I climbed out to the saddle west of lower Soldier, turned north, and hiked foreeeever to Sky Blue. Got to my campsite, tried to eat, and blew all my cookies. Altitude and exhaustion got the best of me.

Day 3 was not nearly as bad. But it was pretty long. Sky Blue over Crabtree Pass, and down to a hidden Packer Camp on Whitney Creek, about 30 min. below the JMT. Lots of small fish there, easy to catch.

From Sky Blue, I wandered to the lake west of the "WL 3697", but the east side of 3697 would have been more direct. Again, better research, and better use of my gps would have helped. Getting over Crabtree was relatively easy after all the previous stuff I'd hiked.

Couple of odd notes: 1. On the climb just below Sky Blue, I came upon some laundry and a water filter laying by the stream. Not a soul around, though. #2. I met a fellow wanderer west of #3697. He was looking for an "easy ridge to hike back to his camp" that a friend had described. I think he had also come up from Soldier Lk, but he couldn't tell me for sure. There is no "easy ridge" around there. Strange.

My day 4 was a circuitous route on the JMT to Wallace Creek, then up to Wallace Lk. Day 5 up to Tulainyo, over Russell-Carillion pass, and down to Whitney Portal. Days 6-7 were spent chilling in Lone Pine -- because of a fire, HM and my car were inaccessible. That's a whole different story.

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#52556 - 01/25/18 11:53 PM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Yoseman]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7262
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yoseman, as for your question about climbing to Discovery Pinnacle: Somewhere on this forum (here it is: Miter Basin, Discovery Pinnacle to Mt Whitney), there is an old description of a route from Crabtree Pass, generally following the contours from CP, and then climbing directly to DP. Kent Ashcraft (aka Kashcraft) and his sons did that and posted the description. If you really do want to hit DP, and THEN climb Hitchcock, I'd definitely try that.

It appears, from the topo contours and satellite views that you could reasonably (but slowly in some places), walk the ridge all the way from DP to Hitchcock. 3-4 years back, I climbed from the middle Crabtree Lk up to the overlook half way between Hitchcock and DP. (That was without gps, and I was aiming for DP, but stupidly followed all the use tracks and trails on the slope, and got too high waaay too soon. I followed contours from there on around and up to DP on that hike. Went on to Whitney and camped on top overnight.

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#52557 - 01/26/18 09:02 AM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Steve C]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 53
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Here's a link to my TR where I covered most of your proposed route save for the bits where you want to tag Mt. Langley and Mt. Hitchcock : http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/52320/Whitney_via_the_scenic_route_9

The route finding is pretty straight forward. Going from Crabtree Pass to Discovery Pinnacle is slow, regardless of what route you take. They dont call it the dreaded sand hill for nothing. We went around the cirque and up through the cliff bands. It looks a lot worse than it really is from Crabtree Pass.

There are links at the end of my post showing my proposed route vs actual path on caltopo plus all of my pics from the trip.

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#52560 - 01/26/18 12:49 PM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: psykokid]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 991
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
here you go Langley/shortcut to Miter/ to Crabtree PAss

photos and maps


Langley Miter Crabtree

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#52592 - 02/07/18 06:24 PM Re: Cottonwood lakes to Mt. Langley to Miter Basin to Whitney [Re: Glenn]
Yoseman Offline


Registered: 01/24/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Pennsylvania
I have the book, and I looked it up Thanks Glenn

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