Start at the Whitney Trail TH at Whitney Portal. You will need a permit for either overnight or day use. As of 2008, the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek drainage falls in the special Whitney Zone for which dayhike permits must be obtained from the Forest Service. Follow the trail for 1 mile, until you come to the second creek crossing. The first crossing is for Carillon Creek and a sign warns you that This is not the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Don't go up that first drainage unless you'd like to thrash about in the brush for a few hours before continuing. A simple sign at the second creek announces simply, "North Fork, Lone Pine Creek." Above this you will find USFS information on several placards. Follow the well-worn use trail on the right side of the creek.
About a third of a mile up, the trail crosses to the left side of the stream. Continue up another half mile until the trail crosses back to the right side. Almost immediately you should find yourself climbing the Ebersbacher Ledges. These have been well-ducked and there should be ample footprints along the ledges to follow the obvious path. They go up about 100ft before continuing in a regular path on the right side of the creek to Lower Boy Scout Lake.
Cross again to the left side of the creek at the outlet of Lower Boy Scout Lake. At the upper end of the meadow you'll find yourself climbing steepening slabs up to Clyde Meadow. Here you have several options for reaching the base of Russell's East Ridge.
The most obvious route is to follow the steep, sandy slope to the northwest above Clyde Meadow up to the Russell-Carillon Pass. This is a tedious sand/talus climb and is much better for a descent route. A second option is to take the Rockwell Variation - Follow the creek up to Upper Boy Scout Lake, and continue to follow the creek up towards the end of the canyon over compacted sand/talus and large morraine boulders. Once at the Southeast Face of Mt. Russell, head north up a tedious sand/talus slope (though less than the first option) to where you gain access to a very wide chute that leads diagonally right to the Russell-Carillon Pass. The climbing improves a good deal once you reach the chute (which you cannot actually see from the creek below).
It only takes about 15 minutes to climb Mt. Carillon from the Russell-Carillon Pass. From here you get a fantastic view of Mt. Russell's East Ridge.
From the Russell-Carillon Pass, head west up the boulders that comprise the lower part of the East Ridge. There are bits and pieces of use trails along the entire route that can make the climbing easier. The rock becomes more solid as you climb higher, and there are several places with exposure, though nothing extreme. Difficulties are bypassed by keeping to the north side of the ridge. Most of the route is class 2 with some class 3 in places. About 1/3 of the way up, one can follow the ridge more precisely for a good deal more exposed class 3 climbing - it is fairly exhilarating with no class 4-5.
The East Ridge merges with the South Ridge at the lower east summit of Mt. Russell. A 1/4 mile traverse along a sometimes exposed ridge leads to the higher west summit. The crux is a short class 3 mantle move above halfway between the two summits that cannot be easily bypassed on the right side. For most of this traverse, the left side is the steep class 5 headwall of Mt. Russell's South Face.
No technical gear required unless uncomfortable with class 3 exposure. In this case a rope for belays or a cheater sling offered from your partner can help you over the hardest sections (the sling works quite well for the mantle move on the summit traverse).
Winter conditions obviously call for additional gear. Normally the East Ridge is snow-free by June.
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