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Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
#58737 05/25/21 02:42 PM
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Fun and beautiful 13-hour solo car-to-car loop yesterday. Headed up to Carillon Col via North Fork of Lone Pine. From there it's 30 minutes to the top of Carillon. Then followed the East Ridge to the East and West summits of Russell. The new thin layer of unconsolidated snow that fell recently made the conditions slippery and a little tricky. Dropping down North of the ridge before the East Summit helped bring the grade down from Class 4/5 to a solid Class 3. Descended via the South Face with great views on the North Face of Whitney, then over Whitney - Russell pass down to Iceberg Lake. Saw a few climbers going up the snow-covered MR. The Whitney trail switchback appeared snow-covered as well.
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Last edited by danishclimber; 05/25/21 03:20 PM.
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Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
danishclimber #58744 05/25/21 10:23 PM
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Wow! Great pictures, awesome trip. Congratulations.
And thanks for posting the report.

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
Steve C #58750 05/26/21 05:51 AM
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These pictures are stunning. Thank you for sharing.

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
danishclimber #58766 05/27/21 12:52 PM
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Excellent. Russell is one my all time favorites. Thanks for sharing this trip report. Interesting choice in descent route. You wanted to mix it up and create a bit of a loop, or just find it to be an easier descent than the full east ridge?

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
jackeichler #58767 05/27/21 01:20 PM
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I found the concept of a loop appealing - nice to change it up with different scenery all the way down to Boyscout Lakes! Also, this was a great opportunity to take a closer look at the Fishook Arete and the North Face of Whitney for future reference, and get a sense for the current conditions on the MR.

I used the "South Face, Right Side, Class 3 variation" as described by Secor, but in reverse: "Ascend easy talus slopes immediately left (west) of the South Ridge to the headwall beneath the top of the ridge between the east and west peaks. [...] Climb the headwall by following a ledge that rises diagonally to the left".

The key on the descent is to head down the first gully closest to the East Peak - take note of it on the way over to the West Peak. Here's what the headwall looks like from the East Ridge below the East Peak - there's a short chimney section followed by a ramp/ledge system:
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This is the short chimney section seen from the top of the ramp/ledge:
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And here's the entire headwall with the ramp/ledge system easily visible cutting across diagonally, with the chimney section all the way at the top:
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Once you're past the ramp/ledge system, it's smooth sailing down sandy scree all the way to right below the Whitney-Russell Col:
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There's a 10 minute climb back up to the col. As Secor points out "This pass is also known as "Whitney Col." It is not the low point between Mount Whitney and Mount Russell, but rather then notch immediately northwest of Iceberg Lake". It can be seen on the picture above right before Whitney's northeast ridge gets really steep. It's Class 2 from the pass down to Iceberg Lake.

Last edited by danishclimber; 05/27/21 01:24 PM.
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Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
danishclimber #58773 05/28/21 07:42 AM
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Right on. Very nice description of the south face route. Looks fun.

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
danishclimber #58790 06/02/21 10:58 AM
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Danishclimber, thanks for sharing and great pictures too! I too have done the loop, but knowing how tedious Mt. R's south face is I've determined to return to the Col and sand-surf down to UBSL.

I do have a grave question though:

Reading your comments on the thin snow patches making the route slippery may shed some light on the tragedy that happened this past weekend. Do you think the snow you encountered was shaded enough to persist enough into the next week?


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
Snacking Bear #58792 06/02/21 11:26 AM
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Snacking Bear, I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind when I saw the news on the fallen climber.

As you know, the traditional way to overcome the difficulties close to the East Summit of Russell is to dip down 10-15 feet on to the North Face. This area is shaded and still had 2-3 feet of unconsolidated snow in places when I was there, particularly in gullies/couloirs. I realize this doesn't really come through from the pictures I uploaded, but was nevertheless my experience.

Given the amount of snow I saw was this last weekend in the Palisades area, I would not be surprised that there would have been enough melting snow left on Russell's East Ridge to create somewhat treacherous conditions. In particular the scenario that comes to mind would be mid-morning conditions: stepping on hardened crunchy snow that would have become detached from the rock surface overnight as a result of the melt/freeze cycles and would easily break off. Trying to navigate this kind of terrain without crampons would mean that losing your balance could be quite easy. I'm of course just theorizing and do not have any first hand knowledge to share about this tragic event.

For what it's worth, during my own trip I did run into a party on the East Ridge that was simul-climbing with ropes and setting in protection (cams) as they went along the ridge, and nevertheless decided to turn around just before reaching the East Summit due to the conditions. They described them as "sketchy" and having gotten "freaked out" a few times.

Take all this with a grain of salt - like I said I was not in the Whitney/Russell area this last weekend.

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
danishclimber #58793 06/02/21 11:31 AM
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Thanks for sharing.

My mistake on the timestamp. Your word on those ledges between the summit having that much snow is very telling how treacherous this classic Sierra climb can be.


@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain photos
Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
Snacking Bear #58816 06/07/21 07:22 PM
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Danish Climber - when you say Carillon Col, what are you referring to exactly? Are you referring to the Russell-Carillon saddle or the col between Carillon and Cleaver? I wasn't sure from your pics. If you went up the col between Cleaver and Carillon, how were the conditions?

Thanks

Re: Carillon & Russell East Ridge car-to-car loop
BFR #58848 06/14/21 05:33 PM
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Sorry for a slow response as I was recovering from a snake bite on a different hike here in SoCal (long story…). I was referring to the saddle between Carillon and Russell. It was completely dry.


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