Mt Russell (14088 ft / 4294 m), Eastern Sierra, CA
July 2-3, 2006

After camping in Lee Vining, I leisurely made my way to Mammoth Lakes where I picked up a permit for Upper Boy Scout Lake at 8:30. By the time I got to the Whitney Portal trailhead and started hiking it was past noon, perhaps 1pm. I expected to run up and set up camp really quickly, but the trail was pretty challenging with a full backpack. I had my heavy 2-person tent as well as stove, fuel, and food for 2 days along with the general camping gear. Also I lugged up my climbing/approach shoes in addition to the boots I was wearing, which ended up being a good choice but added to the weight. I got to the lake in about 4 hours, not too bad. I lounged in my sleeping bag and ate gummy bears, raisins, and chocolate - yummy! Living in California is all about living large as Rich likes to say.

Eventually it got pretty cold and windy and I got motivated to set my tent up, filter some more water, and cook dinner. The dehydrated chili I picked was pretty gross but I ate almost the whole bag anyway - 2-persons' and 800 calories meal. Apparently I should've actually cooked it as opposed to pouring it in boiling water, because from thinking about it later and calculating, water seems to boil at around 87 degrees Celsius at that altitude, which is a big difference! That explains why the water did not get absorbed properly by the meal. Lesson learned. Speaking of the altitude (camp at ~11,500'/3500m), it made things feel more dry than normal due to the extra exhaling I guess. I was drinking a fair bit of water and that helped. As for sleeping, I got 9.5 hours of continuous sleep which felt really good!

By the time I started climbing in the morning, it was 8am. I was pretty relaxed and in no rush so I didn't set up an alarm. I headed straight up to the South Face scrambling over boulders and trudging up a little bit of scree until I got to a system of ledges that I could traverse and gain the ridge. This was a bit tedious but not too bad. From there, it was complete paradise. I ate, drank a lot, then I took off my boots and left my backpack behind. I switched into my rock/approach shoes and started up. There is a trail that avoids most difficulties on the right on the ridge and I tried to never take it. The ridge was solid throughout and offered some very fun challenges, I was stoked! I got to a little pinnacle which was overhanging on the other side, oops, time to retrace steps and bypass that one using the "trail". Overall it was amazing, I love ridges and this one is great.

On the way down I met 3 friendly folks from Bishop who were doing it as a day trip, starting brutally early in the morning. We later ran into each other at the trailhead over burgers, nice guys. I did Mt Carillon as a side-trip on the way down, got back to camp where I took a small nap and packed up. Made it back to the trailhead at 4:30pm, ate, and then drove all the way back to SF! About 6-6.5 hours of driving to top it all up, and "only" that much because of the lack of traffic during the night. Amazing weekend!

Check out my previous day's adventure in Tuolumne.

  Some ledges had to be scrambled on the way up with a full pack, fun! Looking down at the valley - big elevation delta! Hiking up the beautiful valley  

  Mt Whitney's summits  

  Lower Boy Scout Lake Lower Boy Scout Lake hiking up to Clyde Meadows  

  Upper Boy Scout Lake - where I camped living large - what the US is about! posing  

  getting cold, time to sleep! after a solid 9.5 hours of sleep at nearly 12,000'! Mt Russell's South Face  

  Upper Boy Scout Lake crossing some extremely sketchy snowslopes and kicking myself for leaving the crampons behind flowers  

  trudging up the views are opening up Mt Russell's South Face  

  steep! more flowers very high up  

  the start of the ridge the east ridge beautiful & exposed scrambling  

  the east summit looking back at the exposed ridge  

  looking back at the exposed ridge the real summit of Mt Russell and this is Whitney  



  one of the fun ridge sections (left) climbers visible on one of the fun ridge sections - saw very few people that day! high lake and Mt Carillon  

  another perspective of Russell's East Ridge Whitney (left) and Russell (right) Whitney  

  another view of Russell's ridge sand & scree descent. most people go up this - hard to believe! whohoo, a long ways down!  

  a beautiful lake and granite slabs the little yellow spot in the middle is my tent!  

  the tent posing hiking down these slabs gets your attention with a full pack hiking down these slabs gets your attention with a full pack  


  what the trail looks like good thing there's an easier way to go down on the left!  

  funny Mt Dana at sunset on the drive up Tioga Pass  

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