Mt. Russell

30 Jul 1996 - by Roger Crawley

It was a rainy night in Bishop. In July? Yep. It even rained at El Portal, the Mt Whitney trailhead. We squeezed in at the Backpacker's Camp. In the middle of the night Dave Wright woke up to find that a bear had scooped up his pack right beside him. Dave heard him in the bushes, and just went right up and demanded his pack!

In the morning the weather was beautiful and we started up North Lone Pine Creek to our camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake. Joanie Sutherland, who had just finished a week's trip into Milestone Basin, joined us there. Us: Bill Kirkpatrick, Dave Wright, Don Martin, Will Hurst, and myself, Roger Crawley.

Next day we got going early at 6:30. it's a steep grunt up the Russell-Carillon Saddle. From there we took the standard class 3 route up the east ridge. As one climbs the ridge the exposure can be unnerving. The rock is very good; there are plenty of holds; in hindsight there were no serious obstacles; one can go all the way by hugging the north side of the ridge. Yeah, but after a while the sheer height, the airiness, and the 2000' drop- off on both sides are at least exhilarating.

Joanie, Don, and I reached the East Horn and looked at the West Horn about 100 yards across. "Gee, those clouds are coming in." "Gee, we don't wanna be on this ridge if it rains." etc. "What the hell, let's just go as far as we can." Turns out it wasn't bad at all; there's an easy way around the other side of the west horn. We carefully climbed back down to the saddle.

Meanwhile the others climbed up on Mt. Carillon. We all headed down to camp and the weather broke loose; it rained and hailed for three hours. It's crucial to get up and get off of the long exposed ridge early, because afternoon storms are common. We stayed the second night at the lake. It's a beautiful place. In the morning we skipped breakfast, scrambled back to the cars, and drove as fast as we could to the finest restaurant in Bishop for brunch. Then we had a soak in Hot Creek.


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