Mount Russell (14,088 feet)

Where: Sierra Nevada, California
When: September 2004
Partners: Joe Dawson
Route East Ridge (Class 3)
Mileage/Gain 9/5,900

The Nork Fork of Lone Pine Creek drainage

In late September 2004, Joe Dawson, Larry Reyes and I started out from Whitney Portal for the Right Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Joe and I intended to hike up Mount Russell's east ridge, while Larry, who's deathly afraid of heights and would have been in for a big surprise, elected to hang back and enjoy the lakes found in the drainage.
Mount Whitney from the Russell-Carillon plateau

Leaving Larry at Lower Boyscout Lake, Joe and I started up the steep and sandy slope toward the Mount Russell-Mount Carillon col. Soon enough, we were on the flattish, sand plateau below the saddle. There, we had great views over to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 49 states.
The imposing East Ridge of Mount Russell

Hiking up Mount Carillon from the col, we got our first good look at what lay ahead. It was an astonishingly exposed traverse of Mount Russell's east ridge. What a sight! And we also got to look down on the perpetually frozen (or half-frozen) Tulainyo Lake in the basin to the north.
Tulainyo Lake

Dropping from Carillon and getting onto Russell's east ridge, we found it to be a delight. Largely class 2, it had the occasional class 3 move that added to the joy of climbing it. Passing over the slightly lower east summit, it wasn't long before we stood on the higher, west summit of this glorious peak.
Approaching the summit

Although the ascent went rather well, the sinus infection I'd been nursing caught up to me as I zoomed down the sandy slope leading to Lower Boyscout Lake on the return. Getting to the lake, I was certain I was going to puke. Larry, who'd patiently waited for us at the lake, collected me as we bid farewell to Joe and walked out at our own (well, my) slow pace.


Photos courtesy of Rick Kent