Friday June 8th: Drove to Whitney Portal to secure a backpackers campsite for the night. I was expecting the lot to be full, but it was not. Got a nice site, had some dinner and hit the sack early, I had just worked eleven days in a row and needed all the rest I could get.
Saturday June 9th: I slept rather well until the Whitney day hikers started showing up at 0200. They were in full party mode; loud chatter, music playing, headlights shining through the tent and best of all, people walking within feet of my tent, wtf dayhikers???
I was able to drift in and out of sleep until the alarm sounded at 0500. I packed up my site, had some oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast and was on the trail at 0600. I made good time up the Mountaineers Route enjoying the early morning light along the way. Being my first time up Mt. Russell, I was focused on the proper route. Right about Clyde Meadow I hung a right and started up the sandy/loose rock slope. I did my best to find solid looking rock, but most of the time it was two steps up, one step down. The views really opened up towards Whitney the higher I climbed, the grander the view. Before too long I climbed (it felt like crawled) to the saddle between Mt. Russell & Mt. Carillon. The footing greatly improved, nice hard packed sand and rock. I could now see the imposing east ridge of Mt. Russell. I did alot of homework before this climb, the intel suggested the route would look harder than it really was at first and they were right. The ridge is a knife edge with steep drop offs on both sides, but knowing the class three route would present itself as I moved along, off I went.
I wore my trusty Five Ten Guide Tennies for a little more traction on the rock and they did well. I moved along just to the north of the ridge with the rock became too steep or presently difficulty beyond class three. I was able to prod my way along finding the path of least resistance. One thing I did find was thousands of feet of exposure, a fall on either side of the ridge would be the end, especially the smooth granite north face. I really enjoyed the climbing, the views were spectacular looking north. Mt. Williamson looked large as did Mt. Barnard. A truly awesome sight was Tulainyo Lake. There was no snow around it, but the lake itself was frozen, made for great photos. Mt. Russell has two summits, the west summit and the higher true east summit. I arrived at the west summit and found myself looking across to the east summit and the rocky ridge separating the two. Heading up for the east summit from the saddle one comes across the trickiest move on the route. It is a class three move, easily done by someone a few inches taller than me. I had to what I can best describe as lay against the rock and slither up??? Once around the obstacle it was straight forward to the summit of Mt. Russell, elevation 14,086'. It felt good to be up there. I sent out my SPOT message to my wife and realized I had cell reception so I gave her a call. The signal was crystal clear, I barely get service at my house. The weather and views were great, crystal clear views in all directions. Mt. Whitney dominated the view south, Mt. Williamson the view north, the Arctic Lake drainage west and the Russell east ridge looking east.
I had my victory lunch on the summit and proceeded back down the way I had climbed up. The only bothersome part being the saddle between the peaks. Had to stop and measure out my route back down. I finally made the safe move and proceeded down the ridge. I made good time back to the Russell-Carillon saddle. I had plenty of time and energy left so I talus hopped the three hundred feet up the ridge to the summit of Mt. Carillon, elevation 13,552'. The view of Russell's razor ridge was great from this vantage point, really steep. I signed in on my second peak of the day and headed back down to the saddle. I followed my track back down the scree slope and zig-zagged my way down the loose and sandy slope. Didn't take long to get back to Clyde Meadow where I proceeded to soak my feet in the cool stream and take a siesta. Good times in the mountains.
|Up The Loose Scree Slope|
|Russell-Carillon Saddle Comes Into View|
|Mt. Whitney From Saddle|
|Mt. Russell East Ridge|
|Up The Ridge I Go|
|Near The Top Of The Ridge Or Just To The Right Is Safest|
|Nice Little Ledges With Lots Of Exposure|
|Looking West At The Great Western Divide|
|East Summit Of Mt. Russell|
|Taking A Look At The North Side....Not This Time|
|Keep Finding That Class Three, Getting Steep|
|West Summit Of Mt. Russell|
|The Difficult Mantle Move|
|Mt. Whitney From Summit|
|Arctic Lake Drainage & Kaweah's|
|Myself On Summit, WooHoo|
|East Ridge From Mt. Carillon Slopes|
|Mt. Whitney & Mt. Russell|