Excellent rock, incredible exposure, high elevation, and panoramic views earn this the deserved status of one of the 100 best alpine climbs named in John Moynier and Claude Fiddler's "Sierra Classics".
I'm sure this has been done many times car-to-car by parties stronger than mine, but most will opt for at least one overnight at either Iceberg or Upper Boyscout Lakes to acclimatize and enjoy the surroundings. Consider combining with one of the Whitney routes (East Face, East Buttress) by camping an extra night at Iceberg.
The route itself is roughly 8 pitches, and follows a sharp crescent-shaped spine on the southern aspect of the peak. The start is a bit ambiguous, so just follow the path of least resistance for a pitch or so to gain the ridge proper. Continue along the ridge for several more pitches. At one point, you'll have to downclimb about 15' to a prominent notch. The pitch above the notch is the money pitch, on impeccable golden rock. Continue for several more pitches, staying on the spine for full value. From the summit, descend via the East Ridge. This will take you back to Upper Boy Scout Lake. Choose another descent option if you left gear at Iceberg Lake.
Allow *roughly* 6 hours from base to summit. Allow roughly 5 additional hours to descend from the summit back to the car at Whitney Portal.
From Iceberg Lake, scramble up and over the saddle between Whitney and Russell. Head north, picking up a faint climber's trail to the base of the arÍte. Several starts are possible.
A standard alpine rack will suffice. Hexes and/or tri-cams may be substituted for cams to keep the weight down. A couple double-length runners. Double ropes are nice, but not essential. There is no fixed gear on the route as I recall.
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Aug 18, 2006
Very fun clean route. We did the first pitch 5.9 variation. The obvious crack goes left or right. Stay left to gain ridge(easier) or right(harder) P2 is easy 5th class to the base of the next tower. P3 5.9- was one of the best. Try to stay close to the true arete and head for tower. There is an improbable move right (crux) this puts you on the arete. Bypass tower (left side) nice little airy move, and climb along the Arete to a Cool mantel move. Now down lead into notch. From here the you can bail (don't) P4 is right up the arete on easy climbing. P5 5.8 takes you up to an OW chimney deal to a nice belay. P6 5.9 really cool. Climb up to this huge detached flake that tapers to a small stance. go straight up crack 5.9 to cave and on to top of the block. You can also traverse to the Right corner and climb the face if you don't like the crack. The exposure here is amazing, you must take a quick look down. P7 climb up and traverse over to left side of the arete. P8 follow the left side of arete to summit. The summit is really cool with great views of Mt Whitney and a 360 view. There are many variation that can be done on this climb. Stay as close to the true arete as you can is really enough beta to do this climb. We did it sans topo. to decend take the SECOND gully (2-300 ft east) with a short downclimb to head back to Iceberg lake or decend the East Ridge to Upper Boyscout Lake.
|By C Miller|
Oct 22, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a
A fabulous route which takes your right to the summit. An early start means the lower pitches will be chilly but higher (and later) it warms up nicely. Watch for loose rock on this one. Take in the world class summit view and then descend off right down the obvious 3rd class gully.
Mar 6, 2007
It is possible to scramble into the gully to the right of the Fishhook arete and climb a loose pitch of 5.8/5.9 directly into the notch.
This is a good way to pass slow parties on the initial pitches or also get you on the route quickly if you woke up later than you wanted to.
Beware of off route gendarmes, this route goes pretty easy above the notch if you are crafty with your decision making, but you can also make it a lot harder if you get "pillar vision"...
From: Sacramento, CA
May 25, 2008
Notes from 6/04:
- Whitney Portal to Upper Boyscout (~4hrs).
- Hiking by 4:30am, 5:30 at Iceberg Lake, climbing by 6:30am. Summit around 12:45. Back to car (Whitney Portal) by 6pm.
From: flagstaff, az
Jul 14, 2008
enjoyed this route immensely, found and interesting and challenging variation on pitch one: immediately left of the giant overhanging flake which becomes the ridge below the belay for pitch two is a steep finger crack which goes for 25ft at probaby 10b.
Jul 25, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c
This route is lots of fun. I tried Supertopo's "5.10 variation" and thought it a bit sandbagged and insecure.
|By Justin York|
From: Phoenix, AZ
Nov 9, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a
My fav route so far in the Sierras. Super solid, not too hard, not too easy, great views, good pro. I thought the first pitch was a little easier than 5.9, and it depended on which way you went on the third pitch.
|By David M.H.|
From: los Angeles, ca
Jun 10, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a
Thought I was being smart hiking up into the canyon beyond UBL. It was very neat in there and no one else was around. I had taken a look at the "peaks passes & trails" book and saw a route that appeared to go up that canyon and then use the "sakai col" to get into the sandy bowl that leads to Fishhook. It worked, turned sharp right onto the sandy ledges at the end of the canyon. Miserably sandy, loose, and steep I should say. It seemed like we were going to hit a dead end all the way up but made it work somehow. Higher up it was better and the "sakai col" was not an issue. The ground on the way to fishhook after the "col" was also very sandy. Sorry for the complaining but I really have not yet had such a miserable approach in the sierras. The climbing was great after the notch section. Too inconsistent before the notch but there were a few good sections. We took the NE ridge off Russel, which was cool but for it to get such notoriety... well I have seen better ridge hikes. The ridge ends into another area with sand and loose rock. Kept trying to find a more direct route back to our camp through some notch/colouir. Each spot to drop down looked like it could just end in a drop. In the end we had to hike some steep loose sand & rock to get to the UBL then hike back up to our camp. As a result I cant recommend either my approach or the Russell-Carillon pass approach as they both go up miserably loose sand & scree.