Mount Russell and Bishop Pass Trail

H.W. Stockman
Sunday and Monday, Sept 5&6, 2004

(Four tough women, Branch, and me.)

  Mount Russell is just north of Mt. Whitney, and is a "14er." Norman Clyde made the first recorded ascent in 1926 -- so Russell was among the last-climbed California 14ers.

The route can be broken down into two sections: getting to the rocky, occasionally knife-edged summit ridge; and travel west along said ridge.

Most people choose to gain the summit ridge by going up the loose, 2000' talus slope to the ESE of the peak. Our trip leader, Branch Whitney, chose to avoid this talus slope for the ascent. Instead, we took a "modified Rockwell variation," travelling west past Upper Boy Scout Lake, before heading WNW, then NNE up a steep chute (the southern route on the GPS trace below). Later, we descended the infamous talus slope (the northern part of the GPS trace). With this particular ascent route, we didn't have much travel on extremely loose talus. However, the Rockwell route is little-used, so loose rocks have not been preened, and rather large boulders may slide under your weight before tumbling hundreds of feet. I found myself walking on all fours like a chimpanzee, to spread my weight out as much as possible.

The rock is good on the summit ridge, and there are cairned routes around every impossible-seeming part of the trip. Hence the route is "just" class 3 but the consequences of a fall look harsh. The exposure will get your attention; if you get vertigo, don't look down while on the knife edges. Most of the "knife edges" are actually fairly wide (3') and made of good rock -- but don't take anything for granted (or granite), as a few rocks broke off under my tread.

Click on any small image to see a larger picture. (Cliquez sur une petite image pour voir la grande image correspondante.) Order is essentially chronological. Even the large images are reduced in size to 20% the number of pixels in the originals. Contact me if you want the full-sized images. To save a large image under Windows, 1) click on the corresponding small image; 2) when the large image appears (fully), right-click on the image and choose "Save Picture As..." on the menu. Be sure to note where you saved the image!

Map with GPS trace for Russell trek.

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Start at Portal Parking lot ~6AM.

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Base of the Eberbacher Ledges.

 

 

 

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Still on the Eberbacher Ledges.

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More ledges.

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Heading E on the ledges.

 

 

 

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Finally off the Eberbacher Ledges, heading W.

Fuchsias.

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Below Lower Boy Scout Lake, heading W.

 

 

 

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View E.

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At Lower Boy Scout lake, view W to Mt. Whitney.

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Leaving L.B.S. Lake; there are people in this picture!

 

 

 

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View back E over L.B.S. Lake

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Rockfringe

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At Upper Boy Scout Lake, view NW to Russell.

 

 

 

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View back SE over U.B.S. Lake.

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Up the Rockwell route.

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View SE, U.B.S.L. visible in back.

 

 

 

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Lone Pine Peak in background.

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View NW, Cliffs of Russell in back.

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Up the Rockwell chute.

 

 

 

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Up, up the chute.

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Up, up, view ~SSE.

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At top of chute, Mt. Whitney in background.

 

 

 

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View NE over Tulainyo Lake.

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View W as we start climb up Russell ridge. We are about to go up the sharp ridge at left.

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View WNW. Lots of exposure to N (right).

 

 

 

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More view W up ridge.

I hope you don't have vertigo.

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Looking back E from ridge. You can see Tulainyo Lake to left, Mt. Carillon to right. The Owens Valley is in the distance.

 

 

 

View ESE over false summit. U.B.S.L. visible to right.

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Looking down to unnamed lake and Tulainyo.

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Coming up east summit.

 

 

 

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From East summit, view W to "true" west summit of Russell.

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View W as Debbie and Terri head to W summit. You can see a lone climber on top of the west peak.

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Looking back E as Susan comes down from E summit.

 

 

 

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View NW as Luba climbs last few feet.

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Standard cerebellum check. View W from summit.

 

 

 

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The group (minus photographer) on top, view W.

Stop and catch your breath. We are about to descend.

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Next few shots are looking E on descent.

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Rather steep, huh?

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Didn't the last shot convince you? Over 1000' of exposure to left.

 

 

 

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View NW as Luba lounges.

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Looking back W at rest of group. from Luba's lounge spot.

 

 

 

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More view back W.

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View back ENE to knife edge of Russell. Now we are on the gentle scree, about to head down the steep scree.

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Down the scree, the group heads east as the sun gets low in the west.

 

 

 

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Descent E to Eberbacher Ledges as the light grows dim (the sun effectively set before 6 PM, behind the Whitney Ridge).

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A 10' waterfall at the base of the ledges.

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Next day, view N, just below last climb to Bishop Pass. We bid farewell to Luba and Debbie, who are about to join Branch for 5 days of climbing.

 

 

 

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Hiking back out (N) with Susan.

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