For some reason I had not yet tagged Mt. Muir nor I had ever been over the Whitney-Russell col so rather than trekking up the trail, I planned an overly ambitious day. The idea was to go over the Whitney-Russell col, tag Hale and Young and then make my way up to Muir and down the trail. I really enjoyed the valley between Russell and the North Side of Whitney. Looking forward to attempting a Russell-Whitney double at some point in the future using the North Face. It was much slower going than I expected getting to Hale/Young and I didn't realize that I was dropping so much and would be in for a 10,000' elevation day if I tagged both, so I ended up skipping Hale/Young and headed down to Guitar Lake. Enjoyed hiking on the JMT up to Muir. Hadn't been back there before. When I got to Muir, I figured the cairns and route would be obvious. I picked the most obvious line and then encountered what I thought was a 4th class move so went down a bit and scouted out other options. I started to grow a bit frustrated but a group of two came up and had the right beta. I re-climbed the obvious line and then discovered a somewhat non-intuitive 3rd class move to circumvent the 4th class one. Tagged the summit (it was very windy!) and flew down the trail. It was about a 12 hour day with 8000' of gain and around 19 miles. Fun.
There are many ways to climb the North Face, but the route I found was crap. There was rotten class-4 rock, and some snow and ice that weren’t much better. Yes, there was some good climbing, but I’m in no hurry to do it again.