Mount Russell

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Mount Russell from Iceberg Lake, on the Winter Mountaineering Trip 2011
East Ridge in the winter

Mt. Russell is a fantastic granite mountain very close to Mt. Whitney. The close proximity has advantages (the approach is well known, and it's seen quite a bit of development) but it also means it is often overlooked and as of 2007, it is very hard to access during the summer since it is in the Whitney Zone and requires a Whitney Zone permit for both dayhikes and overnight hikes.

It is quite possible to do routes on Mt. Russell in one day (so-called "car-to-car") in the summer, but this requires that at least one climber is familiar with the approach route, and it will be test your endurance. A much nicer option for the technical routes is to camp at Iceberg Lake, although this will limit your descent options (recommended descent is via the East Ridge). For ascending the East Ridge, you should camp no higher than Upper Boy Scout Lake.


Fishhook Arete

Rated 5.9. Less steep and intimidating than the Mithril Dihedral, but more real 5th class pitches. See Hamik's Picasa Album of Fishook Arete car-to-car.

East Ridge

Many climbers consider this one of the best 3rd class routes in the Sierras. This author (Stephen) has never ascended it, but descended it twice, and can recommend it as a descent but not as an ascent. The reason is that there is a 2,000' sandy slope that you must take to reach the ridge, and it's a blast going down but not so fun going up.

The ridge itself is one of the few places where you have a true 3rd class route but still with a lot of exposure. The final ridge line to the summit (the S. Face routes share this portion), is fantastic.

Mithril Dihedral

Rated 5.9+ or 5.10-, this is a spectacular climb. The famous Mithril Dihedral itself is done in anywhere from 1 pitch (probably 70m +) to 3 pitches, and has stiff 5.9 crack with a few off-width sections and a 9+ or 10- overhang crux at the very end (though the real crux is just having the stamina). The bottom two pitches are not too serious, and the final pitches are also not bad (mainly 4th class). Recommended descent is via the East Ridge.

See Gary Kleiger's trip report (with pictures) from a car-to-car Mithril climb with Stephen in 2008.

Bloody Corner

After a blocky pitch and a harder 10a OW pitch, you get to the business section in the heart of the Bloody corner. The corner is a full 60m long and the protection is good. It goes at 5.10c. After the corner, you get to the mountain's shoulder and easy 5 class and 4 takes you to the summit.


See the Supertopo High Sierra guidebook, which club members can access online. It covers the Fishook Arete (5.9) and East Ridge (3rd class). Our Library also has Moynier & Fiddler, which covers these routes.

Trip Reports and Photos