OverviewMt. Carillon is the peak just east of Mt. Russell, and about 500' shorter. The East Face routes are steep and seldom climbed, although there has been recent new route activity. Shay and Andre put up a new 11-pitch route on this face, Sweet Carillon (sweet name) and it goes at 5.10 A0. Here's an opportunity for someone to grab the first free ascent...
Most summiters of Carillon ascend the South Slope routes, which are 2nd-to-easy 3rd class. Not surprisingly, Norman Clyde has the 1st ascent of this peak way back in 1925.
Getting ThereThe easiest access to the popular routes on Carillon is via the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. The trailhead is at the Whitney Portal, 13 miles west of Lone Pine via the Whitney Portal Road. The turnoff for the Whitney Portal Road is in Lone Pine, on Highway 395.
From the Portal, start up the Mt. Whitney tourist route. Stay on the trail for about a mile, until you reach the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. This is not the 1st stream that crosses the trail, but the second. When you reach the correct stream, turn off just before crossing, and stay on the north side of the creek. There is a trail on the south side as well, but it is in much worse condition, and there is an attempt to channel all hikers onto the same trail to mitigate damage from foot traffic in this heavily-used drainage. The trail continues up the drainage, and, contrary to what you may hear or read, the Ebersbacher Ledges are very easy to find, and very easy to climb, no harder than class 2. If you find it to be harder than this, reconsider your route-finding.
The next major landmark is Lower Boyscout Lake, soon to be Lower Boyscout Meadow. Stay on the east side of the lake, and stay low at first. There are many use trails through this section, but the best one is just above the south shore of the lake. Continue toward Lone Pine Creek, and follow the well-used trail that ascends just south of the stream. The trail is a little hard to follow through a section of monstrous talus, but there are markers to get you to the slabs. The slabs are just that - glacier-carved, smooth granite slabs. Normally this would not be the preferred terrain for walking, as the angle is relentless, but if you stray off of the slabs, you are in for a bush-whack.
Before you get to Upper Boy Scout Lake, you will see a long sandy slope, interspersed with short cliff bands (see the image). This is one way (possibly the shortest, but not necessarily the easiest) to reach the South Side routes. The trail continues on, to Iceberg Lake, and Whitney-Russell Pass. The other option from this side is the Rockwell Variation, which is a longer route to Russell-Carillon Pass, but is supposed be easier (ie., less sandy). To use this variation, continue up the North Fork drainage past Upper Boy Scout Lake to nearly the end of the drainage. Stay to the right of the steep cliffs of the East Ridge of Mt. Russell, and ascend a steep talus slope to the Carillon Plateau. From here the summit is easily attainable, and if you are after Russell as well, this is a good place to hop on the well-traveled East Ridge.
Red TapeThe North Fork of Lone Pine Creek is a quota area, so it is best to do this peak as a day-hike rather than a multi-day adventure. A wilderness permit is required for all overnight stays in this area. There are no campfires permitted anywhere in the North Fork drainage.
When To ClimbCarillon, like other peaks in the area, may be climbed at any time of the year, but the busiest times are during the spring-summer-fall hiking season. In most years there will be snow until May at least, and new snow starts falling usually in October or November.
CampingThe best campground in the area is the Tuttle Creek Campground, mostly because it is free, and seems to always have space. There is some camping available at the Whitney Portal, but it can be hard to get in the busy season.
One of the favorite campsites enroute is at Lower Boyscout Lake, but no fires are allowed.
Mountain ConditionsSince this peak is so close to Whitney, any source for Whitney conditions will be helpful. The area forecast is available from the National Weather Service, and the Whitney Portal Store Messsage Board will often have some useful posts. And don't forget to ask your fellow SPer's, we get out alot.
Etymology"The name was proposed by Chester Versteeg for the peak's bell-tower shape; approved by the BGN in 1938. (INF archives.) However, another reason has been cited for the original name. 'From the winds which whistle across the crest and through its shattered summit rocks producing the music of a carillon tower.' (Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1938.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada