Mt. Russell Fishhook Arête, August 10, 2010

Mt. Russell (14,086′, 4293m) is located immediately north of Mt. Whitney.  Although overshadowed by it’s much more popular the routes are more challenging and many Sierra aficionados consider them more aesthetically beautiful.

The Fishhook Arête is an 8-pitch climb with the hardest moves rated at 5.9.  Viewed from the south the ridges distinct shape is easily seen.  The rock is high quality granite in a magnificent setting offering spectacular views all around.

Mt. Russell's Fishhook Arête leads straight off the summit towards us i the center of this picture. Half way down the ridge it angles left.

Long time friend of SMI Ken Lewis joined SMI founder Kurt Wedberg for a climb of this classic route.  Ken climbed the East Face of Mt. Whitney with us car to car in one day last summer and wanted to step it up a notch this year.  We met the Whitney Portal trailhead with headlamps on for the approach to Mt. Russell.  We picked our way up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek and walked past Lower Boyscout Lake, Upper Boyscout Lake, and Iceberg Lake.  As the early morning sun started to turn the eastern horizon several pretty shades of orange we found ourselves at the Whitney/Russell Col ready to traverse to the base of Mt. Russell.

Ken at the Whitney/Russell Col with Iceberg Lake below and the orange color of dawn on the horizon.

The suns rays casting an early morning glow on the Mt. Whitney massif as seen from the Whitney/Russell Col.

The weather was clear and a morning breeze kept the temperature cool.  We roped up and began climbing the first couple of pitches of mid 5th class moves.  The route then traversed off the ridge to the left before climbing straight up to a notch in the ridge.  With exposure on both sides the ridge leads us straight up along superb quality granite.  Every move higher reveals increasingly dramatic views of Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park to the west and sights as far as Death Valley to the east.  The route takes us through a chimney necessitating pressing our feet and backs against opposite walls in a couple places before reaching blocky sections above.  The final two pitches take us over blocky terrain with sections of 5.7 to 5.9 climbing that take us straight on to the summit of Mt. Russell.

Thanks Ken for a great day!!

A few more pictures are below.  The entire photo gallery from this climb can be seen here:  Mt. Russell Fishhook Arête,  August 10, 2010.

Ken enjoying the climbing on the first pitch.

Ken traversing on pitch #3.

Ken climbing above the north on pitch #5.

Looking up at pitch #6.

Ken on pitch #8 removing a #2 Camalot on the short 5.9 hand crack that tops out at the summit of Mt. Russell.

Summit photo!!

Thanks Ken for a great day!!!

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