Trip Report: Mt. Langley
Peak: Mt. Langley
Rank: 9 in CA
Elevation Change: about 7442 ft
Distance: about 18 miles
Route: North East Chute
Start at the trailhead of Tuttle Creek (my van wouldn’t make the entire dirt road, so walked an extra mile to the TH) and follow the trail until it crosses a creek, heading north to Ashram.
Turn south and begin route finding to the chute. You can see a “waterfall” in the distance, which is the base of the chute. The route finding is so so, for people have cairned the way but often intersecting with other paths.
As you begin ascending the chute, which you are not totally aware of doing, you quickly realize you have met the mental crux, a long sandy ascent. Keeping a rock cliff on your left, the east, and the “waterfall” on the right, the west, keep ascending. Once the foliage stops you, cross the spring and continue up and over the rib. Now you are in the chute. Work your way west until you find the dry river bed.
Take the dry river bed up. This is really not a river bed, but water runoff for snowmelt during the spring.
You will come upon a bench, head for the saddle and brave the sand! Continue pushing your way up the chute to the top of the chute.
Congratulations! You are ready to push. You have a nice long walk and can see the summit of Langley. Walk to Diaz Pass trending northwest gradually.
You have two options, Diaz pass or the rocky slope. Both get you to the south slopes. I would suggest Diaz pass unless you are comfortable with class 3+/4 scrambling because the rocky slope sets you up perfectly to send a not-so-obvious route to the summit. From Diaz pass continue walking west until you find a scramble you want to tackle, class 2-4 depending on your choice.
From here work your way to the summit, sign your name in the registry, eat lunch, and head home! Remember, you are only halfway!
The Story (the humanized version of the journey)
Waking up to my alarm at 02:00, I realized that 5 hours of darkness and my insecurity in route finding was not a combination I wished to endure. Resetting my alarm for 04:00 I would begin walking around 05:00 and have 2 hours of headlamp journey.
Turns out I forgot to turn ON my old alarm clock. But the time was correctly set. I awoke to first light around 06:30. Quickly, gargling down my thermos of tea and consuming my overnight oats, I had one last decision, bring the thermos of tea or no? The debate was rooted in the desire for more liquid versus the weight of the 40 oz Hydroflask. I decided to leave the extra liquid and do with my 48 oz of water in my bladder.
Excited to hit the trail, yet burning up in my wardrobe after walking a mile I stripped naked at the TH and work only pants and a sun hoodie in the shaded 40ish degree morning. Now it was send time!
Seeing the Ashram from the trail below I wanted to detour to see a piece of climbing history, but knew I was behind schedule, so I passed.
Now, for all of the trip reports and guide books that say follow the obvious chute, I’ve gotta give you all the middle finger! Yes, the chute is obvious, but that is when there isn’t towering foliage clocking your view of seeing the obvious chute. Route finding is frustrating. Sliding down the hill with each step in the sand, I realize my work is cut out for me. Tired of the sand, I scramble some class 3 slopes to the high point so I can see where I am at. To my surprise, I am headed in the right direction and have made decent progress, despite the copious, conflicting cairns sending all over hill-and-dale! Down-climbing and finding the line I am happy to say I’m ascending the river bed.
The ground was finally solid and I began moving quickly. So quickly I began losing my breath and could feel my heart pulsing through my ears. Taking a seat I caught my breath, allowing my heart rate to decrease. Continually making forward progress, the river bed gave way to sandy slopes. These slopes were the mental crux of the route.
As the sun peaked over the western ridge I headed for the trees to avoid the ever-increasing wind. That was a navigational error! On the bright side, I got a magnificent view of the Comb Ridge. Taking my breath away, I hung out for a bit. So, I guess it was worth it.
Making my way back to the chute, I ascended the second bench. Langley’s summit comes into view. Hunkering behind a boulder and out of the wind I check the time, 10:05.
“Not bad. I’m making progress!” my little pep-talk.
The soil was delightfully packed down, making the mile or so walk along the gat ridge quick. Not to mention a herd of 14 Big Horn sheep prancing ahead of me, their white butts all lined up as they ascended the ridge with Langley’s summit in sight. An image one should endure at some point in their life. Once again I headed a bit far north, this time on purpose to get another view of Comb Ridge. Striking is the size of these four peaks shooting out of the ground.
From here I had to decide. Ascend the ridge to Diaz pass or take the rock scramble in front of me. Greatly disliking the of descending a wee bit to the summit through Dias pass, I headed up. Stopping regularly to catch my breath, this climb might have been the most physically demanding on the route. My hands were clawing up and my jaw was clenching as the cold set in. Reaching the top, I sheltered myself from the wind in order to put on underwear, a fleece top, gloves, and a windbreaker. Noticing to summit form my location I would have to find a line along the south slopes to the summit. Cold and mentally exhausted, I decided to walk west until I could find an obvious line that would go at class 2. It worked! Soon I was on the summit eating lunch and signing the registry.
The descent went quickly, especially down the sandy slopes! The cry creek bed was rough on the knees, but the spring water refill was much needed! I actually finished that second 1.5 L by the timeI reached the ashram. Thankfully I had enough daylight to spare and relished in this modest, rock-building that supposedly housed Warren Harding’s “Low Sierra Eating, Drinking, and Farcing Society”!
Food, tea, and falling asleep by 19:15.
07:00 Left van
07:25 Trail Head
10:05 Second Bench (summit in sight)
14:10 Left Summit
18:55 Trail Head
18:15 Return to van