Actually, you do need a permit to dayhike Russell, available only from the IAVC in Lone Pine, as the approach is in the Whitney Zone. Get more info here:http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsint ... n%20Passes
And their phone # is (760)876-6222
Basically, all the approaches are scree, no matter where you go. I'd actually say the 'nicest' approach is to climb the slabs on the north side of Lower Boy Scout Lake and aim high to gain some of the more solid rock above Clyde Meadow before getting into the main chute heading to the Russell-Carrilon plateau.
If you head to Upper Boy Scout and the drainage above, there is nice scrambling to be had to gain the entry to the Rockwell variation. There is a bit of a use trail from UBSL to the back of the drainage, but it's pretty sloppy also.
Some fun slabs and blocks to scramble to get above the headwall (on the right of the drainage):
I'm pretty sure the left of the photo was the entrance to the RV:
We were heading up the south face, right side to check it out last year, which is where the pics come from. We went at a quite leisurely pace and made the RT (up the south and down the east ridge) from the Portal in 12 hours. Very comfortable, really.http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics6 ... 849192579/
Now, if you're looking for a fun and different route, I might recommend the NE Ridge of Candlelight Peak, just outside of the Whitney Zone. No permit needed for a day hike since you start by hiking to Lone Pine Lake and head up from there. Route finding can be a bit tricky, though, especially starting out on the right ramp from LPL.http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics6 ... 850219560/
I found the scrambling there to be quite slab-u-licious...