We did this trip as an overnight. It was 108F in Lone Pine, so we started a little earlier on the first day. There had been some conflicting reports on whether Old Army pass was free of snow or not, including on the Ranger Station recording (which said it was snow covered). We went to the Cottonwood lakes to take a look. There was a main couloir straight up to the pass and this couloir was choked up with steep ice. Fortunately this was not the route we needed to take. The trail goes left and snakes up and traverses the left side of the canyon. The trail is very good and it was 100% clear of snow.
We camped just at the foot of the pass (Cottonwood Lake 4 or 5 depending on the map). The next morning, we started at 6am and it took us 45 min to get to the pass. We followed a good trail to the summit which we reached at 9:30am. We were the first to summit that day and proudly wrote the date in the summit register: 07/07/07; an easy date to remember for my last fourteener. One striking feature from the summit was the raging fire in Big Pine Canyon, which looked huge from the summit. We had started our trip the day before and had no idea about the fire.
On the way down, we ran into Jeff Fisher and Chris Franchuck on their way up, working on Jeff's goal to climb all the fourteeners in one year. They warned us about the closure of Hwy 395 N of Lone Pine due to the fire. We got back to camp at 11:30, packed up and were back at the cars at 3:30pm. The last part of that trail seems to last forever and actually climbs up slightly to the Parking lot. Kirsten kept the pace up hoping 395 would be reopened and allow for a yummy dinner at Shaat's or (yes) the M. station. Alas, the road was closed and we had to go through much less exciting Bakersfield.
Trip stats: Sat summit day: left camp 6am. Top of old Army pass: 6:45am, summited 9:30am, back to camp at 11: 30, arrived at Cottonwood Lakes parking lot 3:30pm
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