Western Front on Mount Russell

With an iffy forecast for the Cascades and Dale needing to get back to Mammoth, we hatched a plan late on Thursday night to fly down for a 3-day weekend. We arrived at LAX around 10:30pm and got a one-way rental car, which we drove straight to the Alabama Hills to get a few hours of sleep. We awoke around 5am, drove up to the Whitney Portal, and were moving by 6am.

Dale on Pitch 4 before the sustained corner

Dale on Pitch 4 before the sustained corner

Dale and I had previously done the Fishhook Arete, Mithral Dihedral, and Star Trekkin, so the Western Front was our last classic line to hit on Russell. When we eventually got to the Whitney-Russell Col, the face was still in the shade, so we took a nap. Charging up there from sea level was starting to hit me in the frontal lobe, so it felt good to drop my heart rate for a bit.

After our nap, we headed over to the route, figured out which line to climb, and started our way up. The crux felt pretty hard to both of us with a blind reach from an undercling to a less-than-awesome layback crack. The arete pitch was quite fun and surprisingly engaging despite being covered with cracks—everything felt slightly off and jams were hard to come by.

I belayed Dale from the arete as he stepped into the second crux sustained dihedral. No one move was terribly hard, but there weren't many rests until higher up and we both felt worked. The rest of the climb and scramble to the summit went smoothly. I fought off nausea for much of the climb, summit, and East Ridge descent, which detracted from the fun of the day a bit. It was a long slog out from Upper Boyscout, but worth it for a great day in the mountains.