Start by ascending the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek off the Whitney trail.
Approach from Iceberg Lake:
Hike to Iceberg Lake via the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. From Iceberg, hike to the Whitney-Russell saddle by staying on the left side of the lake. Aim for the first low notch to the right of the mountaineers route. The South face is half a mile north of the saddle.
This is the notch from Iceburg lake
Looking back at Iceburg lake from the top of notch leading to southwest face of Russell.
Approach from Upper Boy Scout Lake (Rockwell variation):
Hike to Upper Boy Scout Lake via the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. From UBL follow the path on the right hand side of the lake past the lush grass. Climb steep gravelly talus slope above a cliff band. From there, hike west above the cliff band to a gap between the two pinnacles where you will cross the Sierra Crest. If you remain on route the climbing will not be any harder than class three. This traverse will take you to the base of the South Face.
There are two cruxes on this route. The first is entering the gully at the base of the chute between Fishhook Arete and Diamond Arete. This gully which disappears behind Diamond Arete is very steep at is entrance. Several variations exist using either the left or right side. You may want to use a rope through this short (one or two moves) section.
Looking down at the first crux.
As the route continues the steepness of the slabs lessens, and ledges or shelves are ascended for several hundred feet until the face steepens again.
The second crux is a short vertical chimney, found above a large ledge. Above the chimney there are two possibilities. To the left is another short section of class four that tops out just below the summit.
Second crux is this chimney near the top of the route. Follow the old rope.
To the right is a class three scramble that leads to the east ridge at the mantle (see main page).
Looking down at the last bit of class 3 before the ridge.
The class 3 tops out here. The class 4 tops out the at the notch in the center of the photo just below the summit. The boulder on the far right middle of the photo is the mantle.
You can climb over this boulder and follow the ridge to the summit or down climb to the right and traverse below the ridge toward the summit.
Short rope and small alpine rack.