Mount Whitney Area Day Trips
Framed by one of the Alabama Hills most well-known arches, Mt. Whitney and its adjacent peaks beckon climbers and others who want to explore the high country. Traveling light, one day trips offer an option ranging from relatively easy to ambitious peak-bagging.
One of the easiest access points to the south is the Horseshoe meadows trailhead reached by the climb-to-the-sky switchback Horshoe meadows road that takes off at the 3.2 mile mark along the Whitney Portal road. From the 10,040-foot trailhead, the Cottonwood Lakes trail climbs gradually up to the Cottonwood Lakes Basin (4 miles) and then on to New Army Pass. With its golden trout fishery, these lakes are a ready target for fishermen, and the regulations stipulating catch and release for most of the lakes ensures plenty of action especially late in the season
Cottonwood Lake #4: The original Army Pass trail climbed up to the saddle above.
Small to medium sized golden trout are plentiful but must be taken only with barbless artificial lures and flies with the exception generally of Lake #5.
For the more ambitious, Mt. Langley, the southernmost 14,000-foot Sierra peak, is accessible by several routes. The most direct is a Class 2 scramble up to the crest at Diaz Pass (13,280 ft -0.4 miles SE of Langley) followed by a lengthy Class 1 grind up the western slope to the summit. During a recent September trip, I took the easy way out and went fishing while my brother Don headed for Mt. Langley. He was back and joined me at CW Lake #5 in a little more than 3 hours! Langley is of special historical interest because when first climbed in 1871, Clarence King and his partner believed they had climbed Mt. Whitney.
Mt. Langley in the center as viewed from lower Cottonwood Basin
Diaz Pass is the saddle on the crest. CW Lake #2 in the foreground.
Mt. Whitney Area Day Trips part 2