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 cam...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
There is an alternate approach via the "Cartwell Variation" which continues past Upper Boyscout Lake. The was originally used to approach the East Ridge. Continue on a use trail past the right of Upper Boyscout. Keep going past an alpine lake, again passing on the right, and around a scree slope until you meet a slabby buttress. You can climb the slabby buttress at Class 3+ or continue on the faint tail. In either case you eventually work your way high under the south face of Russell heading for the "L Shaped Pass".
It is shorter than the Iceberg approach but the scree below the south face is truly heinous. 3/4 of the way through it I swore never to do it again (similar oaths have been uttered on the Whitney-Russell Col). In truth, both ways are kinda brutal.
Where I think this variation truly shines is getting down to Upper Boyscout in the event the East Ridge isn't an option. This happened to a partner and I due to a heavy dusting of snow on the upper reaches. East Ridge was a death trap, so we went back via Iceberg. This would have been a much better way down.
Just a note - in the description it states that a permit is required for "overnighting" in this area. As of 2013, I am pretty sure a permit is required for day trips up the N. Fork of Lone Pine Creek as well. Check with the Inyo NF to make sure you have the story straight.