Ascent of Mount Russell on 2016-07-09

Climber: Scott Larson

Date:Saturday, July 9, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Russell
    Elevation:14088 ft / 4294 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mt. Russell
July 9, 2016

On Saturday, five of us (Peter C, Julian, Sarah D, Paul A, and I) summitted Mt Russell (14088 feet).
Sarah got there a day early and managed to score five walk-in permits for us. Great job!

At Sarah's insistance, we started incredibly early in the morning. We set a pretty fast pace up the North Fork route, getting up to 11000 feet in about two hours. I wanted to try the north-side Rockwell approach that Steve at WhitneyZone suggested, but I didn't research it well enough and didn't want to attempt it in the dark. The north fork route is pretty cruiser, and the two creek crossings were easier than expected, given the higher water flow this time of year.
Around 11200 feet, we left the standard North Fork route and turned northwest, up the sandy slope of Mt Carillon's southeast face. Our pace slowed as we took numerous food breaks and admired the alpenglow and beautiful sunrise over Lone Pine.
At 12800 feet, the slope levels off into a sandy plateau and it's a mild half mile to the Russell-Carillon saddle. It's here that the fun begins. Russell's east ridge is a class 2-3 affair with growing exposure as one gets closer to the summit. The scrambling along this ridgeline is fantastic. One can choose to stay at the very spine of the ridge for maximum exposure, or keep to the north of the ridge for a safer scramble.
From the saddle, it's a half mile to the lower east summit. The photo opportunities here are sublime, especially where the fishhook arete meets the crest. After a rest on the east summit, we continued to the true summit. It was a nice, sunny day with a gentle breeze (which, as forecast, would blow strong the next day). We spent over an hour and a half on the summit, napping, eating, taking photos, and admiring the amazing views around us. Mt Whitney looks amazing from up here!

Our rapid ascent and my inadequate caloric intake left me feeling pretty crappy and moving slowly. The scramble down the ridge line was fun (though punctuated by two bouts of vomit), and the sand down Carillon's southeast face provided a quick and soft descent. From here, we descended back down the north fork route, stopping occasionally to snack and wait for me to catch up (thanks guys!).
The descent always seems so much longer at the end of the day. I finally got to finish and see Whitney Portal in the light! In all my previous climbs up Whitney, I've always started and finished in the dark.

Mt Russell Timesheet
0143 - Start
0155 - Carillon Creek
0201 - North Fork turnoff
0234 - Second creek crossing
0308 - LBSL
0355 - Base of southeast face of Carillon
0620 - 12800 ft plateau
0709 - Russell-Carillon saddle
0913 - False (east) summit
0950 - Summit!
1130 - Depart summit
1146 - False (east) summit
1300 - Russell-Carillon saddle
1325 - 12800 ft plateau
1412 - Base of southeast face of Carillon
1454 - LBSL
1536 - Second creek crossing
1607 - North Fork turnoff
1613 - Carillon Creek
1624 - Finish!
Summary Total Data
    Route:East Ridge
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Part of Trip: Russell

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Russell-East Peak2016-07-09 
2Mount Russell2016-07-09 

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