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Mt. Russell
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Fishhook Arête 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1000', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Gary Colliver & John Cleare, June 1974
Season: Summer
Page Views: 26,458
Submitted By: M.Morley on Mar 5, 2006

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View from the Whitney-Russell pass of Fishhook Are...

  • Access limited from May to October every year MORE INFO >>>
  • WHITNEY PORTAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    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.

    Location 

    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 arête. Several starts are possible.

    Protection 

    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.


    Photos of Fishhook Arête Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: View of the base of the route. The start is on the...
    BETA PHOTO: View of the base of the route. The start is on the...
    Rock Climbing Photo: View looking down on Iceberg Lake, from the Whitne...
    View looking down on Iceberg Lake, from the Whitne...
    Rock Climbing Photo: A picture of Mt Russell from the saddle near Mt Wh...
    BETA PHOTO: A picture of Mt Russell from the saddle near Mt Wh...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Duke leading up the 5.8 chimney.
    Duke leading up the 5.8 chimney.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing summit
    Nearing summit
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fishhook Arete with climbers on P1 for scale.
    BETA PHOTO: Fishhook Arete with climbers on P1 for scale.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Eric Burt negotiating the crux of Pitch 3.
    BETA PHOTO: Eric Burt negotiating the crux of Pitch 3.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fishhook Arete & Mithral Dihedral
    Fishhook Arete & Mithral Dihedral
    Rock Climbing Photo: the arete
    BETA PHOTO: the arete
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4 (the way we did it) on the Fishhook Arete
    Pitch 4 (the way we did it) on the Fishhook Arete
    Rock Climbing Photo: The obligatory summit shot - June 2004.
    The obligatory summit shot - June 2004.
    Rock Climbing Photo: another photo of Fishhook and the East Arete from ...
    another photo of Fishhook and the East Arete from ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: It can get a little chilly up there in early Sprin...
    It can get a little chilly up there in early Sprin...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at Pitch 5 after downclimbing to the no...
    BETA PHOTO: Looking up at Pitch 5 after downclimbing to the no...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The beautiful East Ridge descent.
    The beautiful East Ridge descent.
    Rock Climbing Photo: starting up the arete
    starting up the arete
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lost in the maze of leaning flakes- p3 Fishhook Ar...
    Lost in the maze of leaning flakes- p3 Fishhook Ar...
    Rock Climbing Photo: P1 of the Fishhook Arete
    P1 of the Fishhook Arete
    Rock Climbing Photo: We opted for the 5.7 exposure on the arete up arou...
    BETA PHOTO: We opted for the 5.7 exposure on the arete up arou...
    Rock Climbing Photo: An East Ridge descent offers excellent views. And ...
    BETA PHOTO: An East Ridge descent offers excellent views. And ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: A 70m rope will get you from the notch to the chim...
    BETA PHOTO: A 70m rope will get you from the notch to the chim...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Russell from Iceberg Lake
    Russell from Iceberg Lake
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fishhook and the East Arete from Whitney
    Fishhook and the East Arete from Whitney
    Rock Climbing Photo: final corner
    final corner

    Show All 34 Photos

    Only the first 24 are shown above.

    Comments on Fishhook Arête Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 19, 2016
    By Floridaputz
    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
    Administrator
    Oct 22, 2006
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 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.
    By 426
    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"...
    By M.Morley
    Administrator
    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.
    By markguycan
    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.
    By Mike
    From: Phoenix
    Jul 25, 2008
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 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 17 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 17 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.
    By BrettAtBond
    Mar 30, 2015
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Snow travel significantly increased the approach and descent times.

    Plan water accordingly if attempting this route early or late in the season.

    rack brought:
    2 sets of nuts (only 1 used)
    cams BD 0.5-3, doubles 0.75-2
    Many long slings

    Day 1: Drive from LA, Hike to and camp at Upper Boy Scout
    Day 2: Summit, descend E Ridge, drive back to LA (long day)

    As of 3/28/15: Snow above lower boyscout lake. Water available at runoff from Upper Boy Scout. Iceberg lake covered in snow, would be difficult to get water there. Crampons and ice axe suggested (we used axe, no crampons above UBS, spikes would have been worth the weight). No snow on Fishhook Arete. Snow on East ridge descent.

    Packs were not an issue on the 5.8 "chimney"
    By Muscrat
    Administrator
    Jul 19, 2016
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    What ^ he said for gear. We had 3- .75's by accident, and used all 3 on at least 3 pitches. 11 shoulder slings, 2 doubles, 3 draws and used them all. Great line. Stay left on the third pitch for some wildly exposed 5.10 fun!
    The notch downclimb is easiest if you go across the blocks to the end and climb down on climbers right and back into the notch. (This will make sense when you see it).
    We had a #4 with us and used it a couple of times, not really needed, but good if you are unsure on wider stuff.
    Had another party in front of us, one of which got exhausted/altitude sickness. Helped them down. It is possible to lower unsure partners into the 4th class descent to some rap tat (with ring!) and rap the steep part of the descent. If you have one rope, go down the ramp, right, to an intermediate station. 2 ropes gets you straight down to the bottom of the 4th class into the dirt.

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