Normally June is a great month in the Sierra Nevada. But these days one never knows! For 2009 it has been cold with snow and rain in the range. Which makes it great for living in Bishop, but whole lot harder to climb in the mountains. Langley is also generally straight forward climbing to 14,042 feet but conditions always change things.
For our Langley climb participants were Burt Blodget and brothers Larry and Rich Brateman, along with Connie taking time off from the office to get out in the mountains. Guiding were SP and Bradon.
Wet snow fell as we left the Cottonwood trailhead and continued all the way to camp at Lake 3 (very imaginative naming of things here). We got camp set up before it really came down but precip came down most of the evening and night.
Next day was cloudy but at least not snowing so we headed up. Despite the conditions looking bad sometimes you need to put yourself in a situation where you can get lucky if things clear up. The old trail up to Old Army Pass still had snow on it requiring a lot of step kicking and plenty of care since a slip here would have been nasty.
This took more time than we had hoped and we eventually got to he pass which felt more like winter with new snow and a light win. Larry was feeling the altitude and had gone down with Bradon. (who then hiked back up – it’s great to be young and strong). Thing seemed to be holding but as we pulled onto the the summit plateau, SP felt his hair standing on end, a sure indication of electricity building. This is something never to mess with and the only choice is not to be there. So we turned tail and got out of there. Disappointing not to do the last short distance, but the best decision. Being stuck in a lightening storm is a very helpless feeling and there is nothing you can really do other than to swear that if you ever get out of it alive you will never be so foolish again.
So we headed back down,dealing with the steep snow on the trail again, which had softened making it even more tricky on the descent. We packed up camp and headed back out in light rain and cool temps.
Not the perfect June trip by any means but the clouds and mist make it all so beautiful and a different face of the mountains. Things do not always go according to plan, but any day one is out in the mountains is better than being in the big city.
For a video of this trip click here which will take you to our YouTube site.