Mt Whitney Zone
Posted By: climby_climber Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/07/22 08:17 PM
I am planning on doing Mt. Russell over this weekend. Unfortunately, the last time I did Whitney via the MR, we descended via the trail route and I did not bag Muir. So, I figured if I'm going to be in the Whitneyzone, it's worth to do a feasibility check of my plans for a Russell - Whitney - Muir linkup.

My main target for this trip is Russell. We're going to be bagging that first so we can get our primary objective done. From there, we will check if my partner and I are feeling it for the linkup. If not, we will just descend the standard route on Russell. From what I can see from some GPS tracks, people descended via the south face of Russell. Does anyone have any beta for this? I'm a little wary about downclimbing something that I haven't climbed up, especially this early in the season. If the descent on the South face of Russell has some non-trivial moves and spooky class 4 stuff, I know it's not going to be worth the downclimb for me. If anyone has some opinions for this, it would be greatly appreciated. And this is all assuming that the descent via the South face is actually the best option. I don't know if its worth going all the way down to UBSL and then back up the MR to avoid unknown downclimbing, but that looks a little silly from an energy management perspective.

And if we do descend the South face of Russell... then what? Should we stick to the North slopes of Whitney and aim for the summit? Or should we aim for the Russell - Whitney pass and go all the way down to Iceberg lake (which is what one GPX track tells me). What's the climbing like for those two options?

I'm looking at Google Maps and its telling me ~8500 ft vert over 15ish miles. It seems doable, and while I haven't been up Russell yet, I'm not too worried for Russell since my partner has already done that and he told me its fairly straightforward. My only motivation for doing this linkup is to also bag Muir, and I really don't care much for Whitney. But if anyone can tell me how realistic this looks, and what the climbing is like, it would clear up some unknowns for us.
Posted By: bobpickering Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/08/22 05:23 AM
It’s been a long time, but I’ve done the trifecta more than once. There is a class 3 way down the south face of Russell. I’ve only climbed the north face of Whitney once. The route I found was crap, though there may be better routes than mine. After Russell, I would just go up the Mountaineers’ Route to Whitney. The fastest way is to trot down the trail to Muir and then hike back up to Whitney. From there, you can downclimb the Mountaineers’ Route, which should be faster than the main trail.
Posted By: Steve C Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/08/22 04:30 PM
Very few people ever do the north slope of Whitney. A few have tried descending it and have died, as well. The only time I saw someone post a trip report going up that way was when it had a decent snow cover in early spring, so they could ascend the steepest parts using crampons.
Posted By: climby_climber Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/08/22 10:33 PM
Hey Bob. To be clear, are you saying that get off Russell, aim for the MR Chute + final 400, summit Whitney, then go for Muir and back up to Whitney summit and descend MR? I saw Secor's class 3 line off Russell. He's got it outlined well so that makes me less nervous. We have to take the line which is closest to the East Peak.

By the way, Muir should be doable and dry right? If not, there's no point in me actually doing the linkup. I don't know if anyone's been up there recently. Might have to post another thread to ask specifically about Muir. Also, if we ascend the MR chute, is it worth hauling the extra weight for mountaineering boots and crampons? Last time I went up there, it was suncupped enough that I thought I could get away with microspikes.
Posted By: climby_climber Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/08/22 10:33 PM
Don't do North Slopes. Got it smile
Posted By: bobpickering Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/09/22 05:19 AM
I looked up my records. Here is what I found:
4-21-09: Whitney via the MR, Muir, back to Whitney, down the MR, over the saddle NW of Iceberg Lake to Russell, up and down the class 3 south face, and back to camp at Iceberg Lake.
8-10-03: Up the MR almost to Whitney, down the trail to Muir, back to Whitney for real, down the MR, over the saddle NW of Iceberg Lake to Russell, up Russell via the class 3 south face, and then down the east ridge to the car.
9-20-02: Carillon, Russell, up the north face of Whitney almost to the top, Muir, back to Whitney for real, and then down the MR to the car.
Muir gets enough sun that there is rarely ever enough snow on it to be a problem (except for 1-31-93 when it snowed a foot the night before).
I think I saw somewhere that people were doing the MR without any gear. You should confirm that before going.
Posted By: climby_climber Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/09/22 05:34 PM
Thanks Bob. Those are some insane days! I'll look more into my route options and let you know how it goes.
Posted By: aastro Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/09/22 08:23 PM
Not sure if you've seen this, but here's a YouTube of someone going down the South of Russell and up the North of Whitney.
Posted By: BFR Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/10/22 05:21 AM
Wow, that video is nuts. This guy is really lucky to have made it!
Posted By: bobpickering Re: Russell-Whitney-Muir Linkup - 06/10/22 11:23 PM
I recognized many spots in that video. The descent from Russell looked very familiar. I didn’t recognize anything on the north face of Whitney. I think his route was more technical than mine, but mine had more loose crap. When I did my similar trip, I had the advantage of knowing all the rest of the climbing routes. I didn’t record my time, but I think it was between 10 and 11 hours, car to car, including Carillon. I’m not nearly that fast 20 years later.
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