Mt Russell, Fishhook Arete (III, 5.9, 8P)

Continued from: Mt Whitney, East Buttress (aka. Peewee Route) (III, 5.8 var., 11P)

May 12, 2012

Mt Russell seen as we passed the Sierra Crest.

After our acclimatization day of climbing Mt Whitney's E Buttress, Jared and I climbed 14,088' Mt Russell's classic Fishhook Arete (III, 5.9, 8P). We felt much stronger for this route as we had caught up on sleep and had acclimatized well. It was nice and warm, though the constant wind got us to keep our jackets on. On P7 I took what SuperTopo called a 5.7 variation that I thought was harder than any of the 5.9 sections of the route. It was a great variation, though - more interesting and much more true to the crest.

Mt Russell seen as we passed the Sierra Crest.
Nearing the base of Fishook Arete.
Fishook Arete, P1 exfoliating flakes.
Jared following P1.
Jared leading P2.
Jared at P2 belay. The P3 5.9 Crux is above.
P3 5_9 crux, before or after? I couldn't tell.
Jared leading P4.
Jared leading P4, riding the second tower.
Jared after the P5 5.8 downclimb.
Jared leading P5.
Jared leading P5.
Jared leading P5.
Leading P6, starting with wide 5.8.
Views east from P6.
Views east from P6.
Leading P6, wider 5.8.
P6 5.8 chimney. More like 5.6 to 5.7.
Mt Whitney from atop P6.
P7 cl. 4 ledge variation (lame). I took the more direct "5.7" variation to the left that was not 5.7.
P7, starting up the corner between two detached pillars. It was offwidthish. No Jesus piece until you're through it!
P7, through the OW variation, after I've tunneled between the pillars. As there was no pro, I flipped the rope after so that Jared could follow by what would normally be runout face climbing.
P7 second detached tower. I stepped back on the first tower to flip the rope so that Jared could climb the L variation to avoid the OW. This thin crack was really tough! You can tunnel through the upper blocks, or if your follower has a pack, do what I did and chimney the gap, straight up the center!
P7 inside the second detached tower. So tempting to do the squeeze, but Jared is following with a pack :-)
P7, inside the second tower.
P7, more chimneying up a strange slot behind the second tower.
Nearing the top.
P8, final 5.7 corner before topping out on the summit!
Jared on the summit. Sun is setting, so it's time to get down!

The way we took back to the base was fairly straightforward. Just as you near the east summit, when the summit ridge starts rising again, look for a way to cut to the right of the crest. It is straightforward enough to downclimb some very steep, but solid cl. 3-4 terrain for about a hundred feet or so before reaching the sand and talus slope. From there it is an easy romp to camp. We started the downclimb just when we needed to use our headlamps, so it really can't be that tricky if you hit it right.

Mt Russell at night.
Perfect bivy view of Mt Russell.
Mt Russell from the E Buttress of Mt Whitney.
Mt Russell's Mithral Dihedral & Fishook Arete from the E Buttress of Mt Whitney.


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